RSF has condemned a brutal 22 April 2004 attack on Palestinian photographer Jamal Aruri, who works for the French news agency Agence France-Presse (AFP). Aruri was attacked by masked men in the West Bank city of Ramallah.
RSF noted that this was the first attack against a Palestinian journalist in Ramallah since the start of a wave of violence against the news media in the Palestinian territories in September 2003. The organisation reiterated its urgent appeal for immediate and thorough investigations into these press freedom violations.
“Because of their slowness and passivity, the Palestinian security services bear a heavy responsibility for these repeated attacks on news media and journalists in the territories under their control. Until now, no investigation has produced results and no one has been brought to trial. These abuses have been allowed to go totally unpunished, leaving journalists vulnerable to the struggles between political clans and the unstable security situation,” the organisation said.
Aruri, aged 38, was beaten in the driveway of his home by two masked men armed with clubs. He received injuries to his elbow and suffered bruises to his face and body. He remained in hospital on 23 April and was expected to undergo an operation. “I don’t understand the reason for this attack,” he told AFP. “I don’t have problems here with anyone.” As part of their investigation, Aruri was questioned by Palestinian police.
RSF is aware of at least two physical attacks on Palestinian journalists since September 2003, and two cases of ransacking and vandalism of news media offices. These attacks have been carried out by armed and usually masked men. Journalist Khalil Al-Zebin was murdered in Gaza on 2 March 2004. He was editor of the twice-monthly publication “An-Nashra” and a close adviser to Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat.
On 2 March, RSF wrote to President Arafat urging him to do everything possible to “remedy the laxity of the security forces, which is unfortunately taking a toll on the Palestinian media.” The organisation said the results of investigations must be made public and those responsible for attacks on the safety and freedom of journalists must be prosecuted.