In a detailed report on the crisis in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Areas, the International Press Institute (IPI) highlighted the disturbing number of injuries to journalists and media professionals between 28 September and 22 November 2000.
Since the beginning of the crisis on 28 September, journalists have carried out their duties under extremely dangerous conditions, and both the Israeli and Palestinian authorities appear to be trying to prevent negative media coverage of the clashes.
The political climate throughout the Palestinian territories has turned explosive. Violence and bloodshed have replaced the attempts at a political solution. During the clashes, which began two months ago, over 280 people have been killed, 90 per cent of whom were Palestinian. The numbers of people wounded are estimated at between 6,000 and 10,000.
In the Appendix to the report, the summary of incidents involving press freedom violations displays a chilling pattern. Out of a total of 43 incidents, 18 journalists were shot, eight were assaulted, three broadcasting stations were effectively censored (either shutdown or suffered a missile attack), one foreign journalist’s accreditation was revoked, eight journalists were harassed and one threatened. In addition, three were denied entry to Israel from the West Bank, and all Palestinian journalists were denied Israeli press cards and thus severely obstructed in carrying out their profession.
Israeli authorities carried out 30 press freedom violations. At least six of these, however, have been contested. Four violations were committed by Israeli settlers, at least one of which has been contested. Palestinian authorities carried out another four violations, while a further six were carried out by Palestinian civilians, at least one of which has also been contested.
In the conclusion of the report, IPI states that the Israeli security forces must review their guidelines concerning protection of journalists; in particular, neither journalists nor the facilities in which they work should ever be military targets. Furthermore, the Palestinian authorities should end their arbitrary arrest and intimidation of journalists. They should also refrain from closing or censoring media outlets.
The entire report is available on the IPI Web site: www.freemedia.at