Journalists in Danger

Journalists, others kidnapped as prison siege sparks violence

The Committee to Protect Journalists is deeply concerned by reports that Palestinian gunmen abducted journalists and other foreigners in Gaza City today. A wave of violence erupted in Gaza and elsewhere in the West Bank, after Israeli forces laid siege to a Jericho prison to arrest militants believed responsible for the 2001 assassination of an Israeli minister. CPJ sources said as many as four South Korean and French journalists were abducted from Gaza’s Dira hotel. Armed kidnappers stormed the hotel this afternoon, according to news reports, which said one gunman was killed in a confrontation with Palestinian police. 

No excuse for silence over travel ban on journalist Anton Shalhat

The distinguished journalist and literary critic Anton Shalhat was this month banned from leaving Israel until the end of the year, on the advice of the Shin Bet domestic security service. A year-long travel ban was issued on January 17, following the approval of two temporary orders - the first signed by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and the second by an Interior Ministry official - in late December. An accompanying letter from the Interior Ministry says that the decision to bar Mr Shalhat from leaving the country is based on classified information that he may “harm the security of the state”. 

Vanunu will appear in court for talking to press

The International Federation of Journalists has called for an end to official harassment of Mordechai Vanunu - the man who told the world that Israel possessed nuclear weapons - as Israeli judges moved to send him back to jail for speaking to journalists. Vanunu will appear in court tomorrow, charged with violating restrictions that prevent him leaving the country and ban him from speaking to foreigners. If found guilty, he could be jailed for nine months on a total of 21 criminal counts. “This man has served his time for revealing what everyone has known for many years,” said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. “Now he is being harassed simply for talking to journalists.” 

Al Arabiya journalist barred in latest case of discrimination against Arab media

Reporters Without Borders has said it shared the outrage of the pan-Arab satellite TV station Al Arabiya, which issued a statement on 27 December 2005 condemning an Israeli decision to ban one of its correspondents, British journalist Bassem El-Jamal, from entering the Palestinian Territories. The ban is the latest in a long series of press freedom violations by the Israeli army against the Arab media. “We call on the Israeli authorities to immediately lift the ban on Bassem El-Jamal, for which there are absolutely no grounds,” Reporters Without Borders said, adding that it was vital for journalists to be able to freely cover the run-up to the Palestinian legislative elections on 25 January 2006. 

Al Jazeera reporter arrested in West Bank

Reporters Without Borders has condemned the arrest of Palestinian journalist Awad Rajoub on 30 November 2005 at his home in Doura, 10 km from the West Bank city of Hebron. The organisation called on the Israeli military to explain why he is still being held. Rajoub reports for the Arabic-language website of the pan-Arab satellite television station Al Jazeera. “The Israeli army, which claims this has nothing to do with Rajoub’s work as a journalist, must say what it knows at once, otherwise there is no reason for holding him and he must be freed immediately,” the press freedom organisation said. Israeli soldiers took Rajoub’s computer and mobile phone when they arrested him. 

Al Jazeera cameraman beaten by soldiers

Reporters Without Borders has voiced outrage at the use of violence by Israeli soldiers on Al Jazeera cameraman Nabil Al Mazzawi, near the West Bank city of Ramallah, on 4 November 2005, and called on the Israeli authorities to give an explanation. Mazzawi was filming a demonstration at the Israeli-built separation barrier when he was beaten by Israeli soldiers and subsequently detained for several hours. “A rapid and thorough investigation must be carried out to establish the circumstances of this excessive behaviour,” the press freedom organisation said. An Israeli police spokesman confirmed that the cameraman was detained for several hours and claimed that he had attacked a border guard. Al Jazeera broadcast footage showing that this was not true. 

Gaza: Kidnapped journalists released

Yesterday, two foreign journalists were kidnapped in the Gaza Strip. Although both were released a few hours later, the crime reflects the recurrence of kidnapping cases, in the absence of effective measures by the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) against kidnappings and other forms of security chaos. On Wednesday, six gunmen stopped a car with five passengers, including two foreign journalists, Dion Nissenbaum and Adam Pletts. The gunmen took the journalists with them until their release later. This latest incident comes as part of a pattern of kidnappings that has recently escalated in the Gaza Strip. 

Investigation into shooting French reporter reactivated

Amid French judicial moves to reactivate an investigation into the near-fatal shooting of “Paris Match” reporter Jacques-Marie Bourget on 21 October 2000 in Ramallah, on the West Bank, RSF reported that it has been granted civil party status in the case before a high-level court in Paris. “We are calling for the clarification of the circumstances of the shooting in which Bourget nearly died,” the organisation said. “He has been demanding justice for five years and it is high time that all the witnesses, without exception, are finally questioned by judicial investigators.” French judge Michèle Ghanassia revived the case on 7 September 2005 by issuing a formal written request to the Israeli authorities to question the Israeli soldiers who witnessed the shooting, so that she can complete her investigation. 

Gaza: Kidnapped French TV soundman freed

A soundman for French television was released unharmed today, eight days after unidentified gunmen seized him in the Gaza Strip. Mohammed Ouathi of France 3 television told reporters he was well but made no further comment when he appeared at a Gaza City police station, international news agencies reported. No group has claimed responsibility for Ouathi’s abduction, which triggered a protest last week by Palestinian and foreign journalists in Gaza. Reuters reported that a Palestinian militant umbrella group called the Popular Resistance Committees said it had helped mediate Ouathi’s release but it did not identify the kidnappers. 

Abductions must stop and French media worker Mohammed al-Ouati must be released immediately

Amnesty International calls for the immediate release of Mohammad al-Ouati, a sound technician with the French TV France 3, who was abducted by armed Palestinians in the Gaza Strip on 14 August and whose whereabouts remain unknown. Mohammed al-Ouati, a French citizen of Algerian origin, was seized by Palestinian gunmen outside his hotel in Gaza City as he was returning to the hotel with three colleagues. He was forced into a car at gunpoint by three gunmen and taken to an unknown location. The gunmen also tried to seize Mohammed al-Ouati’s three colleagues, all French citizens and members of the France 3 team. They reported that the gunmen were not wearing masks.