Reuters cameraman comes under gunfire

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is deeply concerned about an incident yesterday in which a Reuters television cameraman came under gunfire in the West Bank town of Hebron.

A single bullet pierced the side of the video recorder of veteran cameraman and CPJ 2001 International Press Freedom awardee Mazen Dana as he was filming from a window on the top floor of a three-story apartment building in Hebron. The journalist was filming the Israeli army’s destruction of a Palestinian Authority security forces building about 300 meters (330 yards) away. Several Israeli soldiers were stationed about 150 meters (165 yards) from his location.

Dana did not see who fired the shot, but said that there was no exchange of gunfire in the vicinity of the building at the time of the shooting and added that he had been filming from the same window for about 40 minutes without incident. Other Palestinian residents had been viewing the demolition from a window one floor below where Dana was stationed, also without incident.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) spokesman’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In a separate incident on Monday, June 24, the armored car of Reuters cameraman Hamouda Hassan and soundman Abdel Karim Khadr came under IDF gunfire at the entrance to the al-Amari refugee camp in Ramallah. Israeli soldiers then ordered the two journalists out of the car at gunpoint and briefly detained them for about an hour-and-a-half, said Hassan, who pointed out that his car was clearly marked as a press vehicle.

Elsewhere, the IDF has continued to restrict the movement of journalists in the West Bank since it launched its “Operation Determined Path” on June 21. The towns of Jenin, Tulkarem, Qalqiliya, Hebron, Ramallah, Nablus, and Bethlehem have been declared “closed military areas” and, therefore, off-limits to the press. Some journalists have said that they have been turned back by IDF while attempting to enter these cities, and those within the cities have said that they have experienced difficulties in moving around.

For more information about press freedom conditions in Israel and the Occupied Territories, visit CPJ is a New York-based, independent, nonprofit organization that works to safeguard press freedom worldwide.