Israeli violations of press freedom

Al Mezan condemns the kidnapping of BBC journalist

Unknown persons kidnapped the BBC’s correspondent in the Gaza Strip. This incident brings to the fore the issue of the kidnapping of foreigners in Gaza and exerts a negative impact on the freedom of speech and access to information. According to Al Mezan’s field information, at approximately 14.45pm on 12 March 2007, four gunmen in a white Subaru blocked the way of the British journalist Alan Johnston, while he was driving down in Al Wehda Street, and forced him out of his car. No information on his whereabouts has yet been released. 

BBC's Alan Johnston second reporter kidnapped in Gaza this year

Reporters Without Borders voiced concern today after British journalist Alan Johnston, who has been the BBC’s correspondent in Gaza for more than three years, was kidnapped by gunmen near his office this afternoon as he was returning from the Erez Crossing between the Gaza Strip and Israel. “We call for the immediate release of this journalist, who has lived and worked in the Palestinian territories for years,” the press freedom organisation said. “We urge both President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh to react at once to speed up his release. A response from all of us is essential.” 

Journalists hit by Israeli stun grenades, tear-gassed

New York, March 8, 2007 - The Committee to Protect Journalists is concerned that two journalists were bruised by Israeli stun grenades at an Israeli military checkpoint between Jerusalem and the West Bank city of Ramallah today. Rami al-Faqih, a correspondent for the local Al-Quds Educational Television, and Iyad Hamad, a cameraman for The Associated Press, were each hit this morning as Israeli border police fired at journalists covering a peaceful protest marking International Women’s Day at the Qalandia checkpoint, the journalists told CPJ

Israeli army detains TV director, attacks journalists during Nablus raid

The Committee to Protect Journalists is deeply concerned by the Israel Defense Forces’ (IDF) arrest of a local television director and harassment of several journalists during a military operation in the West Bank city of Nablus. At around 3:00 a.m. on February 26, Israeli soldiers detained Nabegh Break, owner and managing director of the local Sanabel TV, after raiding his home in Nablus’ Old City, an eyewitness told CPJ. When the troops arrived at Break’s apartment, they ordered his family to leave and took Break to the first floor, which houses Sanabel TV’s office. 

Attack on Al-Arabia Satellite News Channel Condemned

PCHR strongly condemns the attack on the office of the Al-Arabia satellite news channel on Monday evening as unknown persons detonated an explosive device at the door of the office, causing severe damage. According to investigations conducted by PCHR, at approximately 21:20 on Monday, 22 January 2007, unknown persons detonated an explosive device in front of the office of the Al-Arabia satellite news channel on the 12th floor of the Al-Shorouq tower building in Al-Remal neighborhood in the center of Gaza City. The explosion caused severe damage to the office and the door of a neighboring office of Reuters news agency. 

Ramallah: Demonstration against violence towards journalists

On Sunday, the Palestinian union of journalists organized a sit-in strike in the central West Bank city of Ramallah, in protest of the Israeli invasion of the city on Thursday. The invasion resulted in the deaths of four Palestinians and the injury of over 30 civilians. The Ma’an news agency photojournalist Fadi Arouri was seriously injured while attempting to cover the invasion. Dozens of journalists, PLC members, faction leaders and civil dignitaries participated in the protest, despite the heavy rain. Foreigners showing solidarity with Palestinian journalists were also there. 

Relief at news that kidnapped AFP photographer has been freed

Reporters Without Borders voiced relief on learning that Peruvian photographer Jaime Razuri of Agence France-Presse was released in Gaza City today, a week after he was kidnapped outside the agency’s bureau. “We are extremely relieved by this news,” the press freedom organisation said. “But we call on the authorities to bring the kidnappers to justice. This is the only way to finally put an end to this series of abductions. So far, none of the people responsible for the abductions of six journalists in 2006 have been prosecuted. Letting this impunity continue will mean that other foreign journalists will be in danger of being kidnapped.” 

Journalist wounded by Israeli gunfire during raid on Ramallah

Palestinian journalist Fadi Arouri, who works for the privately-owned local news agency Maan and the daily newspaper “Al Ayyam”, was meanwhile wounded by Israeli gunfire on 4 January during an Israeli military incursion into the West Bank city of Ramallah. Aroury was shot in the abdomen but his injuries were reportedly not considered life-threatening. An RSF delegation visited Israel and the Gaza Strip from 3 to 7 December 2006 to meet with the authorities and discuss the plight of journalists, who are exposed to both Israeli gunfire and violence between the various Palestinian factions. RSF has published a report on this visit that includes recommendations for improving the security of journalists. 

Federation of Journalists and Palestinians Join Forces in Call for Release of Kidnapped Photographer

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and journalists across the Palestinian West Bank and Gaza Strip today demanded the immediate release of Peruvian photographer Jaime Razuri, kidnapped in Gaza on Monday. “Free him now and stop this cat-and-mouse intimidation of journalists and media staff,” said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. The IFJ says kidnapping of journalists, which has been a feature of tactics used by political extremists, only damages the Palestinian cause. Razuri, a 50-year-old Peruvian national working for Agence France-Presse (AFP), was abducted by gunmen on 1 January as he was about to enter his office in Gaza. 

Agence France-Presse photographer kidnapped in Gaza City

Every effort must be made to obtain the rapid release of Agence France-Presse photographer Jaime Razuri, a Peruvian national, who was kidnapped in Gaza City on 1 January 2007, RSF said, condemning a lack of political will on the part of the Palestinian authorities to put an end once and for all to the wave of criminal kidnappings of journalists in the Gaza Strip. “We realise that the chaotic situation prevailing in the Gaza Strip hampers law enforcement, but it is unacceptable that the government and the president do not take action to stop these kidnappings and punish those responsible, especially as the authorities are aware of their identities in most cases,” the press freedom organisation said.