Israeli violations of press freedom

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. 

Israel bans Palestinian journalists from covering Gaza disengagement

The International Federation of Journalists today renewed its appeal to Israel to end the ban on accreditation for Palestinian journalists, which prevents local media from covering the end of the Israeli occupation of the Gaza Strip. “This is a historic moment for Palestinians,” said Aidan White, General Secretary of the IFJ, as the work to remove settlements in the area began, “but local journalists cannot cover the story because Israel discriminates against Palestinian journalists and refuses to grant them press cards that will give them access to the area.” Only a handful of Palestinian journalists have been granted a card allowing them to cross into Gaza to cover the story. 

Gunmen kidnap France 3 soundman in Gaza

Media watchdog Reporters Without Borders has condemned the 14 August 2005 kidnapping of France 3 television crew soundman Mohamed Ouathi by three gunmen in Gaza and urged the Palestinian authorities to do everything possible to ensure that he is quickly released. Ouathi and the three other members of the French television station’s crew - Gwenaëlle Lenoir, Michel Anglade and Franck Pairaud - were returning to their hotel when they were intercepted by three gunmen. The other crew members were able to escape but Ouathi was taken away at gunpoint. France 3 condemned Ouathi’s abduction as a “violation of press freedom” and called for his “immediate release.” 

French journalist turned back while trying to enter West Bank

Reporters Without Borders has condemned the action of the Israeli authorities in turning back French journalist Houda Ibrahim, of Radio France Internationale (RFI), as she tried to cross into the West Bank from Jordan on 3 July 2005. “It is completely unacceptable that a French journalist, who is moreover representing the French government, should be prevented from doing her job, and we call on the Israeli government to explain this arbitrary measure,” the organisation said. Ibrahim flew from Paris to the Jordanian capital of Amman and went overland in a French consulate vehicle to the West Bank border, where she was refused entry into the occupied Palestinian territories. 

Israeli army to take no action against officer in journalist's death

The Israel Defense Forces said today that it would not take disciplinary action against an officer thought responsible for the May 2003 shooting death of British freelance cameraman and film director James Miller in the Gaza Strip. The Committee to Protect Journalists is deeply disturbed by the decision, which comes one month after the army declined to press criminal charges against the officer. “We are appalled that nearly two years after the death of James Miller, no one has been held accountable,” CPJ Executive Director Ann Cooper said. “The failure to assign any responsibility for this shocking and unnecessary death reflects an official disregard for the safety of journalists.”