Two Palestinian journalists beaten up by Israeli soldiers

On 20 May 2003, RSF voiced its outrage over the violent beating which two clearly identified Palestinian journalists received from Israeli soldiers in Bethlehem. The incident took place during the night of 19 to 20 May. One of the journalists sustained an injury to his right hand that will prevent him from working for some time.

While describing the incident as “a gratuitous physical attack,” RSF Secretary-General Robert Ménard said, “Israeli soldiers must learn the difference between a beating and an ID check that respects journalists’ freedom of movement and dignity.”

Ménard noted that the events were not as serious as the killing of two journalists - Nazeh Darwazi and James Miller - by the Israeli army in two recent incidents. “However, they are no less revealing of the intimidation that journalists systematically face from Israeli soldiers in the Palestinian Territories,” he added.

The victims of the beating were Joseph Handal, aged 27, a cameraman with the French public television station France 2, and Chaaban Qandel, aged 21, a cameraman with Arab Network News.

The journalists were driving along Bethlehem’s main road at around midnight (local time) in a car marked “press” and covered with “TV” stickers when they were stopped by a group of at least four Israeli soldiers, who hit them and threw them to the ground. Although the cameramen protested that they were journalists and showed their press cards, the soldiers continued to beat them with great force. Both were treated at Beit Jala hospital. Handal suffered a double fracture to his right hand.

More information:

For further information, contact Séverine Cazes-Tschann at RSF, rue Geoffroy Marie, Paris 75009, France, tel: +33 1 44 83 84 84, fax: +33 1 45 23 11 51, e-mail:, Internet:

For further information on the Miller case:

  • Autopsy suggests British cameraman James Miller was shot by Israeli army gunfire, RSF, 17 May 2003
  • CPJ calls for full and transparent investigation into British journalist’s death, CPJ, 7 May 2003
  • “No exchange of fire took place when Israeli soldiers shot dead a British journalist”, PCHR, 3 May 2003
  • IFJ demands end to military “whitewash” after top journalist is shot dead in Palestine, IFJ, 3 May 2003

    For further information on the Darwazeh case:

  • Israeli army asked about enquiry into killing of journalist, RSF, 29 April 2003
  • CPJ outraged by shooting death of Palestinian cameraman, CPJ, 22 April 2003
  • “Impossible to ignore evidence of israeli targeting of journalists”, IFJ, 21 April 2003
  • Israeli forces kill Palestinian cameraman in Nablus, RSF, 19 April 2003