Journalists in Danger

Vanunu journalist, Peter Hounam arrested

Reporters Without Borders protested at the arrest from his hotel room of British journalist Peter Hounam of the Sunday Times, who in 1986, wrote an article on Israeli nuclear secrets, based on revelations by atomic technician Mordechai Vanunu. RSF demanded an explanation from the Israeli authorities for this surprising arrest, complaining of official silence on the reasons for it and on where the journalist was being held. “We are perturbed by this arrest which seems to have a direct link with Peter Hounam’s work on Mordechai Vanunu. The Israeli authorities seem prepared to go to any lengths to stifle news on the nuclear issue in Israel. This arrest and the blackout that followed it are serious violations of press freedom. We await your explanations,” it said. 

Israeli helicopters attack office of Palestinian magazine

Israeli helicopters launched a missile at the office of al-Resala weekly, located on the first floor of a building in Gaza City. The missile hit the office and destroyed it completely. Two Palestinian civilians living in the area were injured. No casualties were reported among al-Resala’s staff. The magazine is a licensed magazine published by the Palestinian Salvation Party since 1997. On May 2, Israeli helicopters launched missiles at the Aqsa Broadcasting station. The office was located on the upper floor of a building in the center of Gaza City. The offices were severely damaged, but no casualties were reported. 

AFP photographer shot and wounded in Deir Al-Balah

RSF has called on Israeli Defence Minister Shaul Mofaz to hold an “impartial, swift and rigorous” investigation into the shooting of Agence France-Presse (AFP) photographer Mahmoud Hams in the Gaza Strip on 5 May 2004. Hams, aged 25, was shot in the left thigh while taking photographs of young Palestinians throwing stones at soldiers during an Israeli army incursion into the central Gaza city of Deir Al-Balah. He was also injured by shrapnel in his right thigh and is being treated at Deir Al-Balah hospital. Late on 5 May, doctors said his condition was stable. Eyewitnesses said that there had been no exchange of fire in the sector when Hams was injured. 

Israeli helicopters fire missiles at Palestinian radio station

On the eve of World Press Freedom Day, Israeli helicopters launched three missiles at the office of the local al-Aqsa broadcasting station, located on the top floor of an appartment building in Gaza City. Two of the missiles directly hit the station, a third missile destroyed a part of the roof of the building. A number of Palestinian civilians were reported to be suffering from shock, but no other injuries were reported. Since September 2000, Israeli forces have killed 8 journalists. 

Israel's High Court overturns government ban on press accreditation of Palestinian journalists

Israel’s High court overturned a sweeping government ban on press accreditation for Palestinian journalists in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The court ruled on Sunday, April 25, that Israel’s Government Press Office (GPO) could not impose a blanket restriction on accreditation for Palestinian journalists, and that Palestinian journalists should receive press credentials provided they are given security clearance. The court ruled in response to separate law suits brought by Reuters news agency and the Qatar-based Arabic news channel Al-Jazeera regarding the accreditation of their reporters. 

Masked men attack and injure Palestinian photographer

RSF has condemned a brutal 22 April 2004 attack on Palestinian photographer Jamal Aruri, who works for the French news agency Agence France-Presse (AFP). Aruri was attacked by masked men in the West Bank city of Ramallah. Aruri, aged 38, was beaten in the driveway of his home by two masked men armed with clubs. He received injuries to his elbow and suffered bruises to his face and body. He remained in hospital on 23 April and was expected to undergo an operation. “I don’t understand the reason for this attack,” he told AFP. “I don’t have problems here with anyone.” 

Israeli documentary filmmaker brutally assaulted by Israeli security guards

Media watchdog RSF has expressed shock over a brutal attack on award-winning Israeli documentary filmmaker David Benchetrit in front of the Defence Ministry in Tel Aviv. Benchetrit, who is currently working on a film about “refuzniks” - Israeli soldiers who, as conscientious objectors, refuse to serve in the Palestinian territories - was attacked on 21 April on his way to a meeting with Defence Ministry spokesperson Ruth Yaron. “In 30 years of covering wars, I have been injured several times, but I have never been as afraid as I was then, ironically, right by my own home,” Benchetrit told RSF

Media watchdog calls for investigation into killing of journalism student

Reporters Without Borders has called on Israeli Defence Minister Shaul Mofaz to open an investigation into the death of journalism student Mohammad Abu Halimeh, who was killed on 22 March 2004 while covering clashes at the Balata refugee camp in Nablus. Palestinian hospital and security sources said a bullet had apparently fatally wounded Halimeh in the stomach. Eyewitnesses told RSF that the journalism student was standing about 50 metres from the soldier who opened fire on him. He was reportedly standing in front of one of the Balata camp’s main entrances and had a camera around his neck. 

AFP photographer shot in Jenin

Media watchdog CPJ is concerned by today’s shooting by Israel Defense Forces (IDF) of Palestinian photographer Saif Dahla in the West Bank city of Jenin. Two witnesses told CPJ that there were about half a dozen journalists standing together on the sidewalk of a residential neighborhood in Jenin, covering an Israeli incursion into the city in the early afternoon when the shooting occurred. Dahla was shot when a soldier in a tank about 20 meters away fired a few rounds from a machine gun. 

Media watchdog expresses distress over killing of Arafat's media advisor

Media watchdog RSF has expressed its “distress and indignation” to Palestinian president Yasser Arafat, 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, publisher of the twice-monthly “An-Nashra” and a 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. Since September 2003, media watchdogs have voiced growing alarm over a rising toll of attacks on journalists.