RSF has expressed its “distress and indignation” to Yasser Arafat, the president of the Palestinian National Authority, following the assassination of Khalil Al-Zebin, one of his key advisors and publisher of “An-Nashra” magazine, in Gaza on 2 March 2004.
Al-Zebin, aged 59, publisher of the twice-monthly “An-Nashra” and a key media advisor to Arafat, was assassinated by a group of armed men as he was leaving his office in central Gaza City on the night of 1 to 2 March. It is not yet known who was responsible for the killing.
“Our organisation calls on you to immediately take clear, well-defined and effective steps to shed light on this case and bring an end to the impunity with which Palestinian journalists are being attacked. This is the only way that press freedom can be restored to the territories under your control,” RSF said.
Since September 2003, the organisation has voiced growing alarm over a rising toll of attacks, acts of vandalism and threats against journalists and the Palestinian media. “We received no reply to our demands,” said RSF. “Outside of official statements, the security forces have visibly not acted with sufficient firmness and determination, triggering a rapid deterioration in the situation.”
The organisation called on the Palestinian leader “to ensure the safety of journalists, who are victims of growing political instability, and to do everything in your power to remedy the security forces’ negligence, for which the Palestinian media are unfortunately paying the price.”
On 4 February, RSF wrote to Interior Minister Hakam Balaawi following the ransacking of the weekly “Al-Dar“ ‘s Gaza offices, calling on him to open investigations so that those responsible could be tracked down and brought to justice.