Israeli troops attack foreign journalists

Israeli troops have thrown stun grenades at a convoy of 25 foreign journalists and consficated some of their identity cards during a confrontation in the West Bank.

The journalists, who were travelling in six armoured cars, were on their way to cover a US envoy’s meeting with the Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat, this morning.

The press pack spotted two Israeli jeeps and an unmarked vehicle blocking the access road to Mr Arafat’s compound in Ramallah, according to a Reuters correspondent, who was travelling with the group.

The soldiers inside the jeeps then threw stun grenades at the journalists. The grenades are used to disorient and frighten their targets by creating a loud noise and a giving off a bright flash.

As the convoy turned back, some of the journalists left their vehicles and fled on foot but the Israeli border police gave chase and confiscated the identification cards of some of the journalists.

A bullet hole was later discovered in the car used by the CNN crew. The Israeli army had no immediate comment on the incident.

US envoy Anthony Zinni was to meet Mr Arafat as part of international efforts to broker a halt to the West Bank offensive launched by Israel following a series of Palestinian suicide bombings.

Earlier this week journalists’ groups condemned the Israeli authorities for failing to protect press freedom in Ramallah.

Two organisations, the Committee to Protect Journalists and Reporters Sans Frontieres, issued protests after two reporters were wounded and a BBC crew came under fire.

But Israel has threatened legal action against CNN and NBC for ignoring military orders and broadcasting from the city.

The Israeli authorities have also revoked the accreditation of two Abu Dhabi TV journalists as part of the country’s crackdown on foreign coverage of its conflict with the Palestinians.