PCHR Condemns the Attacks on Journalists and Wafa News Agency Office in Khan Yunis and Gaza

PCHR is very concerned over the repeated attacks on journalists and media organizations by armed groups and others. The Centre views these attacks as a serious infringement on the freedom of expressions and the media in Palestinian National Authority (PNA) areas.

PCHR’s preliminary investigation indicates that at approximately 16:30 on Tuesday, 19 September 2006, a number of demonstrators in a march organized by Hamas attacked the photographer Khaled Jamal Bolbol (28) who works for Palestinian Television and the journalist Moafaq Turki Matar (52), who works for Al-Hayat Al-Jadida Newspaper. The attack took place in the Unknown Soldier Square near the Palestinian Legislative Council building in Gaza City, as both were covering the protestors attacking the government employees protest tent against the non-payment of salaries for several months. In a statement to the Centre, Bolbol stated that a number of demonstrators destroyed his camera and beat him. He suffered bruises and was taken to Shifa Hospital for treatment. According to Matar’s statement, he was beaten and his camera broken by a number of youth in the same demonstration and for the same motive.

At approximately 14:00 on the same day, a number of masked gunmen stormed the office of Wafa News Agency in Farra Street in Khan Yunis. They destroyed the office furniture and equipment. The journalist Amer Yehya Abdel Karim El-Farra (40), Wafa’s correspondent in the southern Gaza Strip, stated that he tried to stop the gunmen. However they beat him and detained him in one of the office rooms. El-Farra was taken to Naser Hospital for treatment of bruises and cuts in the face.

At approximately 20:00 on Monday, 18 September 2006, a number of demonstrators in the Unknown Soldier Square in Gaza City attacked the photographer Mohammad Ahmad Gharib (26), who works for Palestine Press Agency. They severely beat him with sticks as he photographed demonstrators burning the protest tent of governmental employees demanding their salaries in the area.

At approximately 12:00 on Thursday, 14 September 2006, the journalist Samar Shahin (32) received a phone call in the office of Al-Hayat Al-Jadida Newpaper in the Palestine Bank Building. The caller claimed to be from Yaser Arafat Battalions. He threatened to attack her for a news item published under her name in Al-Quds newspaper that day. The caller claimed that the news item was biased to Hamas.

PCHR strongly condemns attacks on media organizations, and:

  • Calls upon the PNA, represented by the Attorney-General, to seriously investigate these crimes and bring the perpetrators to justice;
  • Is very concerned over the polarization in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and its effect on freedom of expression and the media; and
  • Calls upon all parties, including the PNA and political parties, to respect the work of the media and exert al efforts to ensure that journalists are able to perform their work to publish information and exchange it freely.

    The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) is an independent legal body based in Gaza City dedicated to protecting human rights, promoting the rule of law and upholding democratic principles in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. It holds Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the United Nations and is an affiliate of the International Commission of Jurists, the F d ration Internationale des Ligues des Droits de l’Homme (FIDH), and the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network. PCHR is a recipient of the 1996 French Republic Award for Human Rights.