The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) today released its latest research into the cases of journalists wounded by Israeli gunfire while covering unrest in the West Bank and Gaza Strip since last September.
The research, which was presented last week to Israeli ambassador to the U.S. David Ivry by a six-person CPJ delegation, lists the cases of 15 journalists who were wounded by live rounds or rubber-coated steel bullets. During last week’s meeting, CPJ expressed its concern to the ambassador that in some of these cases, journalists may have been deliberately targeted. At the very least, Israel Defense Forces (IDF) acted recklessly by firing rounds that injured journalists.
“Unless the Israeli government takes immediate steps to put a stop to these incidents, it is only a matter of time before a journalist is killed,” CPJ board chairman Gene Roberts said after the June 11 meeting. In some of the cases documented by CPJ, journalists were shot in the legs or head, or even in the hand as it rested on the camera. In one case, a journalist’s camera lens was hit by a bullet. In another case, warning shots were fired at journalists with no justification.
The delegation expressed additional concern about the failure of Israeli authorities to seriously investigate cases in which journalists were injured. CPJ has repeatedly communicated its deep concern to Israeli authorities. But despite these requests, the IDF and the Israeli government have in all but a handful of cases failed to report the outcome of investigations into specific incidents or to adequately explain the circumstances of the shootings.
In a written response to CPJ’s research, Israel’s embassy in Washington stated that Ambassador Ivry “categorically rejects the implication that Israel deliberately targets journalists. On the contrary, the standing orders of the IDF explicitly prohibit such behavior. The IDF unequivocally takes disciplinary action against any soldier found in violation of this policy.” The statement added that the Ambassador “takes the concerns expressed by the Committee to Protect Journalists very seriously. The Government of Israel is committed not only to a free press but also to protecting the safety of journalists. Accordingly, Ambassador Ivry has sent a detailed report to the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem and to the Israel Defense Forces asking for their immediate attention to the specific incidents in the CPJ report, as well as to the matter as a whole.”
CPJ welcomes and awaits the responses of the Foreign Ministry and IDF.
The Committee to Protect Journalists is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to the defense of press freedom everywhere. For more information about the work of CPJ, including information about attacks on journalists worldwide, visit CPJ’s Web site
CPJ’s research and the Israeli embassy’s statement are attached below:
Journalists Wounded by Gunfire in Israel and the Occupied Territories
Research Conducted by the Committee to Protect Journalists
On May 15, Bertrand Aguirre, a correspondent for the French television channel TF1, was hit in the chest by a bullet fired by an Israeli border policeman while he was covering clashes between Palestinian demonstrators and Israeli troops near the West Bank city of Ramallah. The incident was recorded on videotape; Aguirre might have been killed had he not been wearing a bullet-proof vest.
A spokesman for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) pledged a “very strenuous and serious investigation.” It was the fifteenth case documented by CPJ of a journalist wounded by Israeli gunfire since the unrest began in the Occupied Territories late last September. There are also several other unconfirmed cases of shootings that CPJ has yet to fully investigate.
Such incidents represent the most dangerous and immediate threat to journalists covering the unrest. CPJ has repeatedly communicated its deep concern to Israeli authorities, but despite these requests, the IDF and the Israeli government have in all but a handful of cases failed to report the outcome of investigations into specific incidents or to adequately explain the circumstances of the shootings.
“I don’t remember the situation being as bad as this,” Howard Goller, chairman of the Foreign Press Association in Israel, told the Israeli paper Haaretz in May. Goller also criticized “the apparent failure of the government and the IDF to send clear and constantly reiterated directives to its troops in the field that reporters have an absolute right, an obligation, to be present at confrontations and clashes and are not merely ‘civilians’-as one officer suggested to the New York Times-caught unluckily in some dangerous place.”
Many of the recent cases follow a long-standing pattern. Over the years, CPJ has documented many cases in which journalists were wounded despite stationing themselves a considerable distance from demonstrators and being easily recognizable because of their camera equipment. In some cases, including during the current unrest, the IDF fired only a few rounds, hitting journalists in the legs or camera-holding hand with what seemed like pinpoint accuracy.
CPJ is concerned that in at least some of these cases, IDF soldiers may have targeted journalists deliberately (the IDF denies this). Based on the available evidence, we are convinced that the IDF has at the very least been guilty of gross recklessness. The Israeli authorities’ failure even to respond to many of the accusations, let alone investigate them seriously, suggests official indifference that could lead field commanders or individual soldiers to conclude that the IDF tolerates these abuses.
In its official response to this research document, Israel’s embassy in Washington wrote that Ambassador David Ivry “categorically rejects the implication that Israel deliberately targets journalists. On the contrary, the standing orders of the IDF explicitly prohibit such behavior. The IDF unequivocally takes disciplinary action against any soldier found in violation of this policy.” The embassy statement went on to say that “the Government of Israel is committed not only to a free press but also to protecting the safety of journalists.” Ambassador David Ivry has requested the Foreign Ministry and IDF’s “immediate attention to the specific incidents in the CPJ report, as well as to the matter as a whole.” The full text of the embassy’s statement is included in the appendix of this report.
Nearly all of the cases presented below have been published previously by CPJ in its research reports or in open letters to Israeli officials. Here, however, CPJ has added information on the status of the official investigations into each case. We summarize select cases from past years that highlight a long-term trend of similar shooting incidents.
CPJ reiterates its recommendation that the Israeli government adopt the following measures in order to ensure the safety and freedom of journalists covering events in Israel and the Occupied Territories:
- Conduct thorough and independent investigations into every incident in which a journalist has been shot or wounded by Israeli forces. The findings should be made public.
- Ensure that soldiers or others found to have acted recklessly or criminally in injuring journalists are disciplined or prosecuted, as the circumstances warrant.
- Request that the army and security forces review their operational guidelines with special attention to protecting journalists from the shooting incidents that have occurred for many years.
CPJ urges all parties to the conflict to respect the absolute right of journalists to cover the news without interference of any kind. Journalists have been attacked from all sides since the unrest began in the West Bank and Gaza Strip nine months ago. They have been beaten by Israeli soldiers and Jewish settlers. Their freedom of movement has been restricted and in some cases Israeli forces have detained them. CPJ has also documented numerous cases of harassment, threats, and censorship carried out against journalists by Palestinian Authority officials and Palestinian civilians. (For a detailed list of these cases, as well as information about press conditions under the Palestinian Authority, visit CPJ’s Web site at www.cpj.org.)
The shooting of journalists by the IDF, however, is the most dangerous and immediate threat to media professionals covering the current unrest. The large number who have been wounded-many under circumstances that clearly distinguished them from the parties to the conflict-raises questions about the IDF’s willingness to ensure the safety of journalists.
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Journalists Injured/Threatened by Live Gunfire or Rubber-Coated Steel Bullets
May 15, 2001
Bertrand Aguirre, TF1
Aguirre, a reporter for the French television channel TF1, was wounded in the chest by a live Israeli round while covering clashes between Israeli troops and Palestinian demonstrators near the West Bank city of Ramallah. At the time of the incident, Aguirre had just finished a stand-up report. An Israeli border policeman opened fire from about 200 meters (218 yards) away with a single round that struck him in the chest. Aguirre’s bullet-proof vest stopped the round and most likely saved his life.
Aguirre was standing about 50 to 100 meters (54 to 109 yards) behind stone throwing Palestinian demonstrators who were between him and the border policeman. The incident occurred during a lull in the clashes, according to eyewitnesses. While it is uncertain whether the soldier was aiming at Aguirre, video footage shows the soldier opening fire in the direction of unarmed demonstrators and journalists. The footage shows that he was not in a life-threatening situation and had violated the IDF’s rules of engagement.
“It’s clear that the soldier opened fire with live ammunition on an unarmed crowed and that he was shooting to kill. Was he aiming at me or not? I can’t tell that,” Aguirre told CPJ. Aguirre said that he was easily recognized as a reporter, holding a microphone and wearing conspicuous white flak jacket as he stood alongside his camera crew.
Status of Investigation: IDF Spokesman Col. Olivier Rafowicz told CPJ in a telephone interview that the authorities “are carrying out a very strenuous and serious investigation into this incident.” He said that Israeli authorities had asked to examine Aguirre’s flak jacket, which was being shipped to France for tests. He said the IDF would seek to identify the soldier suspected of firing the live round but disputed the allegation that the soldier on the videotape was the culprit, saying his rifle was apparently equipped to fire rubber bullets. April 20, 2001
Layla Odeh, Abu Dhabi TV Layla Odeh, a correspondent for the United Arab Emirates-based Abu Dhabi TV, was shot by Israeli troops while she and two colleagues were on assignment in the town of Rafah in the Gaza Strip. At the time of the shooting, the journalists told CPJ, they were interviewing and filming local residents whose homes had been destroyed by Israeli forces. Suddenly, two live shots were fired in their direction from a nearby IDF position. When the crew attempted to flee the scene, a third shot was fired, striking Odeh in the back of her thigh. She was taken to the Shifa hospital where she underwent surgery to remove the bullet. At the time of the shooting, there were no clashes taking place in their vicinity, according to Odeh and her colleagues, who said they were clearly identifiable as journalists due to their conspicuous camera equipment. Video footage appears to confirm their account.
IDF spokesman Olivier Rafowicz expressed regret for the incident and said that an IDF investigation was underway. He told CPJ that “there was no intention to hit the journalists” and added that the Abu Dhabi crew had been working in a dangerous “area of violence.”
Status of Investigation: On April 25, CPJ protested the attack in a letter to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and urged him to ensure that Israeli authorities launched a thorough investigation into this incident, as well as other similar cases involving journalists wounded by Israeli gunfire. In a June 7 letter to CPJ executive director Ann Cooper, Prime Minister Sharon’s spokesman Raanan Gissin wrote that the Odeh incident was “under official IDF investigation” and that “we cannot release any of the findings yet.” Gissin added that “the Prime Minister and the IDF are serious about examining this matter thoroughly.”
In its June 19 response to this research document, Israel’s embassy in Washington, DC wrote: “There was an investigation into this incident. The investigation revealed that Ms. Odeh was hit by a rubber bullet fired from a raised lookout position. The severity of her injuries was due to the use of rubber bullets from this position. Because use of rubber bullets in this situation were found to be dangerous, their use has been forbidden in such cases.” (For the full embassy statement see the appendix below)
March 8, 2001
Christine Hauser, Ahmed Bahadou, and Suhaib Salem, Reuters
An IDF soldier in an armored carrier opened fire in the direction of three Reuters journalists at the Netzarim Junction in Gaza. According to Reuters, reporter Christine Hauser, cameraman Ahmed Bahadou, and free-lance photographer Suhaib Salem were about 50 meters (54 yards) from the armored carrier when the soldier started firing a heavy machine gun in their direction. The journalists quickly took cover.
Reuters reported that when the shooting occurred, Bahadou and Salem were pointing their cameras in the opposite direction from the carrier, and that Hauser had taken out her notebook. The journalists said they made eye contact with the IDF gunner in order to assure him that they were press. The Netzarim Junction was described as quiet at the time.
IDF spokesman Olivier Rafowicz later characterized the gunfire as “warning shots,” according to Reuters, claiming the journalists had put themselves at risk by approaching the IDF outpost. Due to the “tense security situation in Gaza,” Rafowicz told Reuters, “civilians are not allowed to approach Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) outposts because of a present threat of terror activity.” He added that the journalists failed to inform the IDF ahead of time of their presence in the area. However, Reuters pointed out that the IDF requires no such notification from journalists working in that particular area.
Status of Investigation: In a March 13 letter to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, CPJ urged him to ensure that the IDF launch an immediate and thorough investigation into the incident and make its findings public. CPJ received no response from the Israeli government or the IDF. In its June 19 response to this research document, however, Israel’s embassy in Washington, DC wrote that an “investigation was launched the day of the incident. The investigation found that the soldiers involved acted within IDF guidelines. An official statement from the IDF Spokesman was issued.”
February 9, 2001
Laurent van der Stock, Gamma photo agency and Newsweek
At about 3:15 p.m. on February 9, Van der Stock, 36, a veteran photographer working for the Gamma photo agency and Newsweek magazine, was struck in the left knee by a live bullet while covering clashes between Palestinian demonstrators and Israeli troops near Ramallah. The bullet entered above his knee and exited through the back of his leg, severing an artery and causing nerve damage.
At the time of the attack, Van der Stock and several other photojournalists had been covering clashes near the City Inn Hotel, along Ramallah’s border with its sister city of Al-Bireh, for about two hours. An Israeli army position composed of soldiers in jeeps was located near the hotel. According to journalists at the scene, armed Israeli troops were also stationed in buildings situated on the high ground behind the jeeps, some 500 meters (546 yards) from the journalists. The Israeli jeeps were estimated to be about 100 meters (109 yards) away.
According to the journalists, Palestinian demonstrators had launched several attacks on the Israeli jeeps, using stones, pipes, and slingshots. The soldiers frequently responded by exiting their jeeps and opening fire with rubber bullets, tear gas, or stun grenades. Palestinian gunmen in buildings along the main road also fired sporadically on the Israeli positions in the course of the afternoon.
At about 3:15 p.m., Van der Stock ventured into the middle of the road during clashes in order to photograph Palestinian youths retreating from an IDF counterattack. “I understood the demonstrators would run back, so I ran [out] about 20 seconds ahead of time and photographed people running [retreating] toward me,” Van der Stock told CPJ. “I was shot in the [left] knee.”
Van der Stock described the situation just prior to the incident as chaotic, but added that anyone firing live ammunition into the crowd should have known that he was a photographer, since he carried two cameras around his neck.
In a telephone interview, IDF spokesman Olivier Rafowicz told CPJ that IDF troops and Palestinian gunmen were engaged in a fierce gun battle at the time Van der Stock was shot. Because of the general confusion and because the bullet that entered the photographer’s leg was never retrieved, the army was unable to determine who fired the shot, Rafowicz claimed.
Nonetheless, Van der Stock and eyewitnesses interviewed by CPJ maintained that the shot was likely fired by an Israeli soldier stationed either on the ground or in a nearby building. “The way the bullet came and hit him straight in the knee, there was no doubt it came from straight ahead [i.e. the Israeli positions],” one photographer at the scene told CPJ. “The Palestinian gunmen who were firing earlier were in the buildings…100 meters [109 yards] to the left and right but behind Laurent. His back would have been to the Palestinian gunmen…From what I saw…it would have to be a ballistic miracle for him to have been hit by Palestinian fire.” Moreover, journalists on the scene added that gunfire from the Palestinian side had ceased for some time before Van der Stock was shot.
Status of Investigation: On March 13, CPJ wrote the IDF spokesman’s office to urge the IDF to launch a serious and thorough investigation to determine if one of its soldiers in fact fired the round that injured Laurent Van der Stock, and for what reason. CPJ also requested that the IDF release the findings of this investigation, along with any additional information that might shed light on this disturbing incident. The IDF responded that it was looking into the incident and promised to reply in detail to CPJ’s concerns. CPJ has yet to receive a detailed reply from the IDF.
November 11, 2000
Yola Monakhov, The Associated Press
Monakhov, a 26-year-old free-lance photographer working with The Associated Press, was struck in the lower abdomen by a live round fired by an Israeli soldier in the West Bank town of Bethlehem. She sustained serious injuries to her bladder and other internal organs. Her pelvis was also fractured in several places.
According to the AP, Monakhov had been with a small group of Palestinian youths near Rachel’s Tomb, the site of many Israeli-Palestinian clashes. The youths were breaking up stones to use in their slingshots. Some were hurling stones toward an Israeli outpost, the AP reported. Suddenly, an Israeli solider appeared from around a corner and took aim at the group from an estimated distance of 50 meters (54 feet). Monakhov fled along with the youths, who took shelter in a small recess behind a closed gate.
“There was maybe one youth pressed in the doorway with me,” she told the AP, explaining that her bulky backpack prevented her from entering the narrow space behind the gate. “I was waiting for the shot. And a second later I collapsed.”
The Israeli army initially denied that a journalist had been shot that day, but on November 17, an army spokesman acknowledged that Israeli troops had shot Monakhov, according to the AP. The army said it was investigating the incident.
Status of Investigation: In early December, after intense media criticism, the IDF formally apologized to Monakhov, stating that the soldier who fired the shot had violated IDF rules of engagement but had not intentionally targeted the journalist. The IDF statement added that both the soldier and his commanding officer would face a court martial. (See Israeli embassy statement below.) However, in early 2001, CPJ received unconfirmed reports that one of the soldiers involved in the shooting incident had been spotted on active duty in the West Bank. On March 11, CPJ wrote to the IDF spokesman requesting the names of the two officers and detailed information about the types of punishment and/or disciplinary action taken against them. While the IDF has acknowledged receipt of CPJ’s letter, it has yet to respond to our concerns.
October 31, 2000
Ben Wedeman, CNN
Wedeman, CNN’s Cairo bureau chief, was hit in the back (near his waist) by a live round at the Karni border crossing between Gaza and Israel. Wedeman told CPJ that he had gone to Karni crossing following reports of clashes there earlier in the day. He and his crew initially stationed themselves across the street from a group of Palestinians whom he presumed had been among the protestors earlier.
“[They] were on one side of the street and a handful of journalists [were] on the other side,” Wedeman said. He described the situation as tense but relatively stable at first, although there was sporadic gunfire. Journalists at the scene were wearing flak jackets and helmets. As Wedeman and CNN cameraman Muhammad Assad walked down the road toward an olive grove, a burst of gunfire erupted.
“Within minutes there was shooting. Intense shooting,” he said. “I heard bullets over my head. We realized we were not in a good position.” He added that what appeared to be a shell landed 15 to 20 meters (16-22 yards) away. About five minutes later, while Wedeman was taking down his tripod and preparing to leave the area during a lull in the firing, he was struck in the back. The bullet passed through Wedeman’s flak jacket.
He could not determine the source of the shot, but did say that his back was to the Israeli position, between 400 meters (437 yards) and one kilometer (0.62 miles) away. Agence France-Presse reported that Israeli forces had fired on the CNN crew and other journalists in the area. A CNN official told CPJ that there was “no reason to believe whoever fired upon Wedeman knew he was a journalist.”
Status of Investigation: The case of Ben Wedeman was one of 17 documented cases of journalists wounded by IDF gunfire or harassed by Israeli forces published by CPJ in its November 9, 2000 report, “Peril in the Palestinian Territories.” In the report, CPJ called on Israeli authorities to “release any new information that might emerge in the course of these investigations [into attacks against journalists], and to ensure that anyone found guilty of wrongdoing is quickly brought to justice.” In its November 15 response to CPJ’s report, the IDF criticized CPJ’s findings but has failed to provide specific details about Wedeman’s case and the 16 other cases highlighted in the report.
However, on December 4, the Israeli daily Haaretz reported that the battalion commander in charge of the investigation into the Wedeman incident determined that it was “unreasonable” to say that his soldiers had opened fire on an American reporter. “I saw the reporters taking cover,” the paper quoted the commander as saying, “and that is why I limited the area of the soldiers’ action so that the reporters would not get hurt.” According to Haaretz: “Aerial photographs of the incident showed that the CNN team had been located separately from the other reporters, whom the battalion commander had seen and whom he had cautioned his soldiers not to harm. He could not have seen the CNN team. His soldiers, it later clearly emerged, had in fact been responsible for the shooting.”
October 21, 2000
Bruno Stephens, Liberation, Stern
Stephens, a free-lance photographer working with the French newspaper Liberation and the German magazine Stern, was grazed in the throat by a live bullet while covering clashes between Israelis and Palestinians in Ramallah. Stephens was standing with several other journalists, well away from Palestinian demonstrators. He said the bullet, which he believed was fired by Israeli troops, passed over the head of a British free-lance photographer and then ricocheted off a wall before grazing his throat. He suffered a minor burn.
The incident took place just minutes after the shooting of Paris-Match’s Jacques-Marie Bourget (see below), who was part of the same group of journalists.
Status of Investigation: The case of Bruno Stephens was published by CPJ on November 9, 2000 in its report “Peril in the Palestinian Territories.” In the report, CPJ called on Israeli authorities to “release any new information that might emerge in the course of these investigations, and to ensure that anyone found guilty of wrongdoing is quickly brought to justice.” In its November 15 response to CPJ’s report, the IDF criticized CPJ’s findings but has failed to provide specific details about Stephen’s case and the other cases highlighted in the report.
October 21, 2000
Jacques-Marie Bourget, Paris-Match
Bourget, a reporter for the French magazine Paris-Match, was seriously injured when he was struck in the chest by a live bullet while covering clashes between stone-throwing Palestinians and Israeli troops in Ramallah. He was hospitalized in Ramallah and then flown to Paris for treatment 24 hours later.
At the time of the incident, Bourget was standing along a wall with a group of journalists and other bystanders. They were near, but not among, a group of demonstrators, Paris- Match reported and other eyewitnesses confirmed. A bullet then struck Bourget in the chest, entering his lung. It was unclear exactly who fired the round, but Bourget’s colleagues accused Israeli forces.
“Of course it was fired by an Israeli. Everybody knows it,” Paris-Match photographer Thierry Esch told Agence France-Presse. Esch was standing next to Bourget when he was hit.
A Paris-Match editor in Paris told CPJ that the magazine was not sure who fired the round that hit Bourget, and that the magazine did not believe he was targeted intentionally. However, another Paris-Match journalist had a different view.
“From where he was standing, only those in front of him could have hit him. And those in front of him were Israeli soldiers,” Paris-Match deputy editor Patrick Jarnoux told The Toronto Star. “He was nowhere near the clashes, standing alone with a photographer,” Jarnoux added. “And a 57-year-old man can’t easily be mistaken for a 15-year-old rock thrower.”
Status of Investigation: Bourget’s case was highlighted in CPJ’s November 9, 2000 report, but the Israeli authorities have not directly responded to CPJ about this case. However, Haaretz (December 4, 2000) reported that an “investigation was conducted in the Benjamin brigade command, and the brigade commander, Colonel Gal Hirsch, held a long talk with Esch, the photographer standing next to Bourget when he was hit.” The Haaretz article also quoted then-IDF spokesman Major Yarden Vatikai saying that “it is indeed quite possible that the journalist was hit by our fire.” But Vatikai added, that it was determined that shots were not fired intentionally. “The journalist stood in the vicinity of serious clashes and the soldiers, who were about 70 meters away, could not have spotted him,” Vatikai said, according to Haaretz.
October 18, 2000
Patrick Baz, Agence France-Presse
An Israeli soldier shot Baz in the finger with a rubber-coated metal bullet while the photographer was covering clashes between Israeli forces and stone-throwing Palestinian protesters in Ramallah. Baz was standing with another photographer at the time. “It was obvious [we were journalists]. We were wearing white helmets and flak jackets,” Baz told CPJ. “I got it on my finger while [the finger] was on my camera…I can’t say it was a stray bullet.”
“I would not complain if I was in the middle of the demonstration …[but] we were on the side between demonstrators and soldiers and in an empty field really,” he continued. “You could call it a no-mans land.”
Although Palestinian militiamen or police at the scene later engaged in gunfire with the Israeli forces, Baz said this happened later on in the clashes, after he was hit.
Status of Investigation: Baz’s case was highlighted in CPJ’s November 9, 2000 report. CPJ has received no information from the IDF or the Israeli government about the status of any investigation launched into this incident.
October 17, 2000
Mahfouz Abu Turk, Reuters
Abu Turk, a photographer working with Reuters, was wounded in the hand by a rubber-coated metal bullet fired by Israeli troops. He had been covering clashes between Palestinians and Israeli forces that erupted in Bethlehem after the funeral of a Palestinian boy.
Just before the attack, Abu Turk was filming the clashes from behind a cement block. He was taken to hospital in Beit Jala where he received four stitches for the wound.
Abu Turk claimed that the camera he was holding clearly identified him as a journalist.
Status of Investigation: Abu Turk’s case was highlighted in CPJ’s November 9, 2000 report. The organization has received no information from the IDF or Israeli government about the status of any investigation into this incident.
October 9, 2000
Luc Delahaye, Magnum, Newsweek
A rubber-coated metal bullet fired by Israeli forces hit the camera lens of Delahaye, a free-lance photographer with the Magnum photo agency and Newsweek magazine. At the time of the incident, he was filming clashes between Israeli forces and Palestinian demonstrators in Ramallah. Delahaye estimated that he was shot at a range of 40 meters (44 yards). His camera was destroyed.
While working at the same location the next day, his head was grazed by another rubber bullet. One week later, he was hit on the forehead by a third rubber bullet while photographing a Palestinian protester who had just been hit in the head by a live round.
“In the three incidents I was definitely targeted by the soldiers, but I cannot say if I was targeted as a human being or as a journalist,” Delahaye told CPJ, adding that he was wearing only a T-shirt and not a flak jacket. “It is impossible to say.”
Status of Investigation: Delahaye’s case was highlighted in CPJ’s November 9, 2000 report. CPJ has received no information from the IDF or the Israeli government about the status of any investigation into this incident.
October 2, 2000
Loay Abu Haykal, Reuters
Abu Haykel, a Reuters photojournalist, was hit in the leg by a rubber bullet while covering clashes between Palestinians and Israelis in the West Bank city of Hebron. His injury was described as not serious.
Status of Investigation: Abu Haykal’s case was highlighted in CPJ’s November 9, 2000 report. The organization has received no information from the IDF or the Israeli government about the status of any investigation into this incident.
October 2, 2000
Mazen Dana, Reuters
Dana, a Hebron-based cameraman who was covering clashes on Hebron’s Shalalah Street for Reuters, was hit in the left foot and leg by live rounds fired by Israeli forces. A day earlier, Dana had been wounded in the same leg by a rubber bullet.
Status of Investigation: Dana’s case was highlighted in CPJ’s November 9, 2000 report. We have received no information from the IDF or Israeli government about the status of any investigation into this incident. September 29, 2000 Mahfouz Abu Turk, Reuters Abu Turk was hit in the left thigh with a rubber-coated metal bullet fired by Israeli troops. He had been covering the clashes at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque and was taking cover behind a large stone column. Wounded, he fled the scene but still kept filming while heading in the direction of the mosque. Shortly thereafter, he was hit in the right foot by another rubber bullet. He was taken to Al-Makased Hospital for treatment and released the same day. Status of Investigation: Abu Turk’s case was highlighted in CPJ’s November 9, 2000 report. The organization has received no information from the IDF or Israeli government about the status of any investigation into this incident.
September 29, 2000
Khaled Zeghari, Reuters
Israeli soldiers beat Zeghari, a cameraman stringing for Reuters, and shot him in the leg with a rubber-coated metal bullet while the journalist was covering clashes at the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem. The attack took place about five minutes after Hazem Bader, a cameraman for the Associated Press, was shot (see below).
“I was filming the crowd during Friday prayers and when the clashes took place by the Magharbeh Gate I took refuge behind a large rock [stone column] in the courtyard of the Islamic Museum,” Zeghari said. “I witnessed how the wounded youth were falling on the ground as the shooting intensified.”
He said that after ten minutes or so, a group of Israeli soldiers stormed the courtyard and opened fire.
“At that time I was filming the event while lying down on the ground. All of a sudden the soldiers approached me and began beating me with bats and sticks on my head and shoulders,” Zeghari said. “Trying to protect my head against their fierce beating I ran toward Magharbeh Gate and from there I was [taken], bleeding from my head and right leg, to Hadassah Hospital in Ein Karem for treatment.”
Zeghari did not realize until doctors examined him at the hospital that he had been hit in the leg by a rubber-coated metal bullet. The bullet, which left a gash measuring 2 cm by 2cm by 4cm (.8 by .8 by 1.6 inches) and lodged in Zeghari’s leg, was apparently fired at close range. Zeghari said the shooting might have occurred in the initial moments of the soldiers’ attack.
In addition to the bullet wound, Zeghari suffered a cut and several bruises on his head as well as bruises on his back, right shoulder and left hand. He lost his camera during the melee.
Status of Investigation: Zeghari’s case was highlighted in CPJ’s November 9, 2000 report. CPJ has received no information from the IDF or Israeli government about the status of any investigation into this incident.
September 29, 2000
Hazem Bader, The Associated Press
Bader, a cameraman stringing for The Associated Press, was wounded in his right hand by a rubber-coated metal bullet while covering clashes between Israeli troops and Palestinian demonstrators at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque. The bullet was fired by an Israeli soldier from an estimated range of 15 meters (16 yards), according to Bader and another eyewitness.
Bader said he and a small group of photographers and cameramen had been filming soldiers shooting at demonstrators near Magharbeh Gate (overlooking the Western Wall). The journalists were stationed behind a stone column about 15 meters (16 yards) away from the soldiers. Bader claimed he was hit on purpose. “It was a clear shot at us,” he said. “We were far from the demonstrators.”
The bullet broke three bones in Bader’s hand. The journalist has since had two metal plates inserted. He told CPJ that he still has no movement in two of his fingers and has been unable to work since the attack.
Status of Investigation: Bader’s case was highlighted in CPJ’s November 9, 2000 report. The organization has received no information from the IDF or Israeli government about the status of any investigation into this incident.
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Over the last decade, CPJ has documented numerous other cases of journalists who have been injured by IDF gunfire in circumstances that suggest they may have been intentionally targeted or were the victims of IDF recklessness. Eight examples are listed below in order to show that the current spate of journalists wounded by IDF gunfire conforms to a long-standing pattern of similar incidents over the years.
Selected Cases Documented by CPJ 1993-2000:
May 15, 2000
Mazen Dana, Reuters
Dana, a cameraman working with Reuters, was wounded in his right leg by an Israeli soldier firing rubber-coated metal bullets on Shuhada Street in Hebron. He and two other colleagues had been filming clashes between Palestinian youths and Israeli soldiers. When Dana was hit, he and his colleagues took cover behind a metal shop door. Soldiers continued firing shots hitting the door. The journalists say that they were well away from stone throwing protestors at the time of the shooting and that they were clearly identifiable as cameramen by their equipment.
December 19, 1998
Naji Dana, TF1
Dana, a cameraman for the French channel TF1, was wounded in both legs by rubber-coated metal bullets while covering pro-Iraq demonstrations by stone throwing Palestinian youths in Hebron. Dozens were wounded in the clashes. “I was far away from the [demonstrating] youths,” said Dana, who was hit while carrying his bulky video camera. “There were two bullets fired. It’s hard to say this was accidental.” Dana said he was about 100 meters (109 yards) from protestors and shot at a distance of 200-300 meters (218 to 328 yards).
October 8, 1998
Hossam Abu Alan, Agence France-Presse
Abu Alan, a photographer for Agence France-Presse, was critically wounded in the back of the head by a rubber-coated metal while filming a wounded youth at the entrance to Hebron’s Shuhada Street. At the time of the shooting, Abu Alan had stepped from his position along the sidewalk into the street where clashes were taking place. He had gone to photograph a teenager who lay wounded by a rubber bullet. Abu Alan said he had taken advantage of a lull in the violence, a time, journalists say, when demonstrators and the army commonly halt hostilities so that the wounded can be tended to.
“I went to take the photo, but couldn’t. And that’s all I remember,” said Abu Alan. A rubber bullet pierced Abu Alan’s skull at the back of his head, leaving a 2.5 cm (.9 inches) hole. As the photographer collapsed forward, his head crashed into his camera leaving a large gash that required 17 stitches.
Witnesses described Abu Alan as being about 30-40 meters (32 to 43 yards) away from the soldier believed to have shot him. The shooter in question was apparently sitting in a chair with a newspaper in front of him as he fired rounds into the crowd.
Before the shooting, Abu Alan and Mazen Dana were stationed close to Israeli troops who were confronting the stone-throwers, but decided to move closer opposite the youths to film from a different vantage point. “We moved to the other side. At the time, three people had been wounded [by Israeli fire],” recalled Dana. “The youths came in to tend to the wounded. There was no shooting or stone throwing.”
March 15, 1998
Avichai Nudel, Maariv
Nudel, a photographer for the Israeli daily Maariv, was wounded in the stomach by a rubber bullet fired by Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers while he was covering clashes between Israelis and Palestinians in the West Bank city of Hebron.
Nudel was far from the disturbances, with other journalists, when he was shot. He was sent to the hospital for treatment and is recovering from his injuries.
“I wasn’t in the middle of the clashes,” Nudel later told CPJ. He and other journalists “were standing behind some cars and not in the line of fire.” The bullet, one of only six that Israeli troops fired that day, passed through his stomach, causing serious injuries for which he was expected to undergo a second operation last year.
“Avichai was shot from a 40-meter (43 yards) range,” wrote Maariv editor Yaacov Erez. “It was not accidentally discharged or a stray bullet. It’s possible that the soldier who shot him had intended to shoot at the journalists who were covering the unrest, or that he acted in haste and was criminally negligent.”
March 13, 1998
Nael Shiyoukhi, Reuters
Mazen Dana, Reuters
Majdi al-Tamimi, ABC
Amer Jabari, ABC
Hazem Bader, Associated Press
Imad al-Said, Associated Press
Wael Shiyoukhi, Amal TV
Ayman al-Kurd, Amal TV
Bilal al-Joneidi, Reuters
Israeli soldiers in Hebron opened fire with rubber-coated metal bullets on a group of reporters covering clashes between Palestinian protestors and Israeli troops. Those wounded included: Nael Shiyoukhi, Mazen Dana, and Bilal al-Joneidi of Reuters; Majdi al-Tamimi and Amer Jabari of ABC News; Hazem Bader and Imad al-Said of the Associated Press; and Wael Shiyoukhi and Ayman al-Kurd of Amal TV.
Witnesses characterized the incident as the IDF’s intentional targeting of the journalists, who were in the vicinity of the clashes. Three of the wounded journalists told CPJ that they were at least 100 to 200 meters from Palestinian protestors when they were fired upon. These journalists also maintain that soldiers continued shooting at them despite their attempts to identify themselves as members of the press and entreaties to the soldiers to halt their fire.
The incident took place after several journalists were covering clashes between Palestinians and Jewish settlers on Al-Karantina Street, near the Jewish settlement of Avraham Avinu, which began when a large group of demonstrating settlers stormed into the Palestinian-controlled sector of the city. About an hour after the riot started, the IDF restored order and pushed the settlers back into their own enclaves. Shiyoukhi and the other journalists, meanwhile, were packing up to go home. “Everything was quiet,” Shiyoukhi recalled. “We were about to leave. I took my mobile phone out and called the office to figure out how to get them my footage. Then I saw Israeli border police coming towards me, so I started filming them.”
“Suddenly, they took positions on one knee and started firing at me from not more than 20 meters away,” Shiyoukhi continued. The closest Palestinian demonstrators were about 100 meters away on top of a hill, where they were burning tires and throwing stones. Shiyoukhi and the others initially thought the soldiers were heading for the protesters. “There were three soldiers at first,” he said. “We shouted that we were journalists. They could hear us clearly. I shouted in Hebrew, Arabic, and English.”
A rubber-coated metal bullet then struck Shiyoukhi on the forehead and knocked him to the ground. Blood streaming down his face, he struggled to get to his feet while his colleagues took cover behind a garbage dumpster about one meter away from him. They shouted at the soldiers to hold fire, repeatedly identifying themselves as journalists. At one point, Mazen Dana tried to go to Shiyoukhi’s aid, but was forced to retreat when he took a rubber bullet in the shoulder.
As Shiyoukhi lay on the ground, writhing in pain and covered in blood, he was struck by two additional rounds, one in the chest and another in the back. His colleagues could not come to his aid for fear of gunfire. Eventually, Shiyoukhi was dragged to safety, by Hazem Bader of The Associated Press, and bundled into a car that friends had driven to the scene and positioned in front of the dumpster to block the Israeli fire.
In all, some eight journalists were wounded in the encounter. The shocking, two-minute ordeal was captured on film by some of Shiyoukhi’s colleagues and then broadcast across the world, triggering a firestorm of criticism against the IDF.
The IDF’s initial response was that all eight journalists had been hit by stray ricochets. The IDF also claimed that it was too dark for the soldiers to identify Shiyoukhi and his colleagues as journalists, and that a Palestinian demonstrator had run into the crowd of reporters. The IDF later claimed, variously, that the journalists were mingling with the rioters and that Shiyoukhi had been hit by a Palestinian-thrown rock.
But video footage of the incident indicates that Shiyoukhi was clearly illuminated by camera lights and streetlights. The demonstrators were over a hundred meters away. Moreover, the journalists repeatedly identified themselves as press.
July 13, 1997
Imad al-Said, Associated Press Television
Mazen Dana, Reuters
Amer Jaabari, ABC
Diya Juabi, Abu Dhabi Television
Israel Defense Forces soldiers shot rubber bullets at Al-Said, Dana, Jabari, and Juabi-respectively, cameramen for APTV, Reuters, ABC, and Abu Dhabi TV. The journalists were covering a demonstration in which Palestinians were burning an Israeli flag. Eyewitnesses said the soldiers intentionally fired on the journalists, most of whom were at a considerable distance from the demonstrators and carried conspicuous camera equipment that clearly identified them as media. “The youths started burning the flag and instead of shooting at them they shot at us,” Dana, who was wounded in the shoulder, later told CPJ. “Then my colleagues came to help me and then they shot Amer [ABC News cameraman Amer Jabari]. And when Imad [AP TV cameraman Imad al-Said] came to help they shot him and then another journalist.”
In a strongly worded letter of protest to IDF Spokesman Oded Ben Ami, the Foreign Press Association in Israel wrote that “the journalists were covering a flag-burning protest in the city, and television footage indicates that they were well to the side and separated from the demonstrators.” The letter concluded, “It would seem that they were intentionally targeted.”
CPJ on July 23 wrote to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, urging an immediate investigation. The next day, the IDF said a special investigation would be conducted, but to CPJ’s knowledge no details were ever released.
July 16, 1993
Taher Shriteh, Reuters, New York Times
Shriteh was filming an army patrol driving through Shati refugee camp when an Israeli army officer fired at him. The last vehicle in the patrol stopped and an officer got out and aimed an M-16 rifle at Shriteh’s head. Shriteh immediately dropped his video camera. As the officer continued to aim at him, Shriteh jumped behind a wall. The officer fired at his head and missed. Shiteh reported that the officer then let out a loud laugh, got back into his vehicle and drove off.
June 1, 1992
Taher Shriteh, Reuters, New York Times
Shriteh was filming violent clashes between soldiers and demonstrators in Gaza City’s Sheikh Radwan neighborhood when soldiers began firing at him. He mounted his video camera on a tripod and set it to record automatically. An Army sniper then fired at the camera and destroyed it.
* * *
The Israeli Embassy’s response to this research document, which was presented to Ambassador David Ivry on June 11, 2001 (Response received on June 19, 2001)
Ambassador David Ivry takes the concerns expressed by the Committee to Protect Journalists very seriously. The Government of Israel is committed not only to a free press but also to protecting the safety of journalists. Accordingly, Ambassador Ivry has sent a detailed report to the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem and to the Israel Defense Forces asking for their immediate attention to the specific incidents in the CPJ report, as well as to the matter as a whole.
Ambassador Ivry categorically rejects the implication that Israel deliberately targets journalists. On the contrary, the standing orders of the IDF explicitly prohibit such behavior. The IDF unequivocally takes disciplinary action against any soldier found in violation of this policy.
In the framework of military engagements there is always the risk of injuring non-combatants. This is an unfortunate reality. The IDF does its best to limit these occurrences. There are standing orders demanding vigilance to avoid harming non-combatants while performing their duties. The Central Command’s Standing Orders read in part: “It is the right of Israeli and International Media to cover the events in the area of the Central Command [areas including the West Bank and Gaza], including the activities of our forces…No force will be used against journalists. They cannot be detained nor can any of their material be confiscated. They must be treated with respect and politeness. If they have broken the law, soldiers may only take their personal details and file an official report with the police…In every situation involving confrontation with journalists, soldiers must immediately file a report to the operations department and with the Spokesman’s Office of the Central Command”.
Ambassador Ivry is deeply concerned about the number of incidents cited in the report and has requested that the proper departments investigate further. Any new information will be forwarded to the Committee as it is received. Information that we have been able to acquire, to date, is attached. Ambassador Ivry has also sent a special request to the IDF command that the long-standing orders given to ensure journalists’ safety are reiterated and passed down through the ranks. Israel shares with CPJ a commitment to a free press and concerns about the safety of journalists covering volatile situations. Israel will continue to seek opportunities to work with CPJ in advancing their mutual goals.
Layla Odeh-Abu Dhabi TV
April 20, 2001
There was an investigation into this incident. The investigation revealed that Ms. Odeh was hit by a rubber bullet fired from a raised lookout position. The severity of her injuries was due to the use of rubber bullets from this position. Because use of rubber bullets in this situation were found to be dangerous, their use has been forbidden in such cases.
March 8, 2001
Christine Hauser, Ahmed Bahadou, and Suhaib Salem-Reuters
An investigation was launched the day of the incident. The investigation found that the soldiers involved acted within IDF guidelines. An official statement from the IDF Spokesman was issued.
Yola Monakhov-Associated Press
November 11, 2000
This case was investigated with the involvement of the Chief of Staff. Disciplinary action was taken against an officer and a soldier involved in the incident. By the order of the Chief of Staff, this case was transferred to the Military Compensation Unit of the Ministry of Defense. Ms. Monakhov was found to be a victim of terror and will be compensated for her injuries.
October 31, 2000
There was an investigation into this incident followed by a meeting between IDF personnel and CNN.