Silencing the Press
A Report on Israeli Aggression against Journalists
September 29 – November 20, 2000

Palestinian Centre for Human Rights
E-mail: pchr@pchrgaza.org
Web-page: http://www.pchrgaza.org/
-----------------------------------------------

“ Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”
(Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948.)
 

“Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing, or print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice.”
(Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of 1966)
 

“Journalists engaged in dangerous professional missions in areas of armed conflict shall be considered as civilians … They shall be protected as such under the Conventions and this protocol, provided that they take no action adversely affecting their status as civilians…”
(Article 79 of Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949 ‘Protocol 1.’)

-------

Introduction:
Since the outbreak of what has come to be known as "Al-Aqsa Intifada," journalists and reporters of local and international press agencies have not been immune to blatant violations perpetrated by the Israeli occupation forces against defenseless Palestinian civilians.  Many of these journalists, especially photographers and cameramen who were covering the incidents of Al-Aqsa Intifada, were chased, intimidated and shot by the Israeli occupation forces.  Shooting at international and local journalists and reporters, to hinder their covering of these incidents, has become a prominent aspect of a policy adopted by the Israeli occupation forces, which aims at hiding their crimes and killings against defenseless Palestinian civilians.  These particular actions escalated after waves of criticism directed at the Israeli government by the international community and public opinion.  Million of people watched on television stations the willful cold-blooded killing of Palestinian children and young men by the Israeli occupation forces, especially the assassination of the child Mohammed Al-Durreh at Al-Shuhada’ (Netzarim) junction in the Gaza Strip.  This child was assassinated before the eyes of the world, as a brave journalist covered it for all television stations in the world.  This crime has shaken all human feelings, and has revealed the real face of a racist and inhumane occupation.

Despite the consensus of the international community that journalists must be protected while carrying out their duties, the Israeli occupation forces, on several occasions willfully shot at them while they were covering clashes of Al-Aqsa Intifada, in a blatant violation of relevant international conventions and law.  These practices come as a tangible expression of slighting international law and international humanitarian law by the Israeli occupation forces.  These laws ensure, inter alia, the protection of journalists and the right to receive and impart information as preconditions to implementing the right to a free press.  The following section surveys significant practices by the Israeli occupation forces against journalists since the outbreak of clashes between Palestinian civilians and the Israeli occupation forces.
 

Israeli Practices against Journalists:

Israeli occupation forces shot at journalists and staff of international and local press agencies on several occasions during the period of September 28-November 20, 2000. These shootings are summarized below.

 ? On September 29, 2000:
A unit of the Israeli occupation forces beat the journalist Khaled Abu Akar, correspondent of France 2 and correspondent of The New York Times, when he was covering clashes between Palestinian civilians and the Israeli occupation forces inside Al-Haram Al-Sharif (the Holy Sanctuary).  The incident took place when Abu Akar refused to hand a rubber-coated metal bullet he found on the ground to an Israeli soldier.  Israeli soldiers started to beat the mentioned journalist with sticks.  On the same day, while he was covering the same clashes, the journalist Mahfouzh Abu Turk, a cameraman of France 2, was wounded with a rubber-coated metal bullet in the left side, shot by the Israeli occupation forces inside Al-Haram Al-Sharif.  This incident took place while Abu Turk was photographing clashes between Palestinian civilians and the Israeli occupation forces from behind a stone bar inside Al-Haram Al-Sharif.  Soldiers of the Israeli occupation forces also beat journalist Khaled Zaghri, a photographer of Reuters, while he was covering the same clashes.  The journalist Hazem Bader, a photographer of the Associated Press, was wounded with a rubber-coated metal bullet in the right eye.  Soldiers of the Israeli occupation forces also beat Awadh Awadh, a photographer of Agence France Presse, and tried to break his photography equipment, while he was covering the same clashes.

In Hebron, the Israeli occupation forces shot at Aamer El-Jabari, a reporter of NBC, wounding him with a bullet in the head, while he was covering clashes between Palestinian civilians and the Israeli occupation forces.  The wounded reporter was evacuated to Hadasa hospital.  The Israeli occupation forces also shot at Naji Dana, a cameraman of France 2, wounding him with a rubber-coated metal bullet, while he was covering the same clashes.  The Israeli occupation forces beat Luai Abu Haikal, a reporter of Reuters, and wounded Wael El-Shiokhi, an independent journalist, with a rubber-coated metal bullet in the side.  Read Awadh, a cameraman of the Palestinian television channel Watan, was wounded by a bullet in the foot.

Rami Noufal, a reprter of the Palestinian Broadcasting Station, was beaten by Israeli occupation troops at a roadblock stationed by these troops in Bethlehem.

In Gaza, the Israeli occupation forces beat Wafiq Mattar, a journalist of the Palestinian Political Steering Bueau, injuring him in several parts of the body.

 ? On September 30, 2000:
The Southern Commander of the Israeli army Yom Tov Samia, issue a decision preventing all those of Israeli nationality, including journalists and reporters, from entering the areas of the Palestinian National Authority.  This decision aimed at hiding facts about what was taking place in the occupied Palestinian territories, and preventing Arab citizens in Israel from learning what was going on there.

Mouaffaq Turki Qassem Mattar, 46 years old, a photographer of Falasteen Al-Yawm (Palestine Today) Press in Ramallah, was wounded with a rubber-coated metal bullet in the head, while he was covering clashes between Palestinian civilians and the Israeli occupation forces near Al-Shuhada’ (Netzarim) junction to the south of Gaza City.

 ? On October 2, 2000:
The car of Mawan El-Ghoul, a cameraman of CBC, and director of Mayadin Company for Media and Television Production, was shelled by an Israeli combat helicopter.  It was completely destroyed.  This incident took place near Al-Shuhada’ (Netzarim) junction in the Gaza Strip, while El-Ghoul was covering clashes between Palestinian civilians and the Israeli occupation forces.  El-Ghoul stated that his car was distinguished from all cars in the area as a press car by identifying signs in Arabic and English.  Inside the car, there was photography equipment estimated to be valued at no less than US$ 20,000.

Hazem Bader, a photographer of the Associated Press, was wounded with a live bullet in the right hand, shot by the Israeli occupation forces, while he was covering clashes between Palestinian civilians and these forces inside Al-Haram Al-Sharif.

Israeli occupation troops shot at Mazen Dana, a photographer of Reuters, wounding him with a rubber-coated metal bullet in the right leg, while he was covering clashes between the Palestinian civilians and the Israeli occupation forces in El-Shallala street in Hebron.

 ? On October 4, 2000:
Atta Oweisat, a photographer of Zoom 77 press agency, was beaten and humiliated by Israeli occupation troops, while he was covering a funeral procession of a Palestinian martyr, Mohammed El-Sarkhi, in the village of Jabal El-Mukabber near Jerusalem.  Oweisat stated that a group of seven Israeli soldiers attacked him, forced him to lie down and started hitting him in the stomach and neck.  As a result, he fainted and was evacuated to hospital.  He left hospital on the same day.

 ? On October 9, 2000:
Israeli occupation troops shot rubber-coated metal bullets at Luce Delahye, a photographer of Newsweek, hitting and damaging the lens of his camera.  The incident took place while he was covering clashes between Palestinian civilians and the Israeli occupation forces in Ramallah.  A week later, in the same city, Delahye was wounded by a rubber-coated metal bullet in the forehead, while he was photographing a young Palestinian man who had been wounded by a live bullet in the head during clashes between Palestinian civilians and the Israeli occupation forces.

 ? On October 14, 2000:
The car of journalists Hssan El-Titi and Abdel-Rahman Qousini, of the Associated Press, was attacked by Jewish settlers near the village of Hawwara near Nablus.  The front part  of the car and its glass were crushed.

 ? On October 17, 2000:

For the second time, the Israeli occupation forces shot at Mahfouzh Abu Turk, a photographer of Reuters, wounding him with a rubber-coated metal bullet in the hand.  This incident took place while Abu Turk was covering clashes between Palestinian civilians and the Israeli occupation forces in Bethlehem after a funeral procession of a Palestinian martyr.  Abu Turk was evacuated to Beit Jala hospital for treatment and left the hospital on the same day.

 ? On October 18, 2000:

Israeli occupation troops shot at Patrick Baz, a photographer of France Press, wounding him with a rubber-coated metal bullet in the hand.  This incident took place while he was covering clashes between Palestinian civilians and the Israeli occupation forces in Ramallah.  Eyewitnesses asserted that Baz was with another photographer and was wearing a helmet and a bulletproof vest, and that it was clear that he was a journalist photographing clashes between Palestinian civilians and the Israeli occupation forces.

 ? On October 20, 2000:

Israeli occupation forces shot at Abdel-Rahman El-Khatib, a photographer of Al-Ayyam daily local newspaper, wounding him with a rubber-coated metal bullet in the mouth.  This incident took place while El-Khatib was covering clashes between Palestinian civilians and the Israeli occupation forces near a military post of the Israeli occupation forces known as “Al-Nouria,” to the west of the refugee camp of Khan Yunis.  El-Khatib informed PCHR that on Friday, October 20, 2000, while he was photographing clashes between Palestinian civilians and the Israeli occupation forces near Neve Dekalim settlement from behind a big stone, he was shot with a rubber-coated metal bullet in the mouth by the Israeli occupation forces.  Following this, El-Khatib was evacuated to hospital where physicians found an injury in the upper lip, and a break in the right part of the upper teeth.

Hammed Eghbareya, director of Sawt Al-Haq Walhorreya (the Voice of Right and Freedom) in Nazareth, was attacked by Israeli police and border guards while he was covering clashes between them and Arab citizens.  Israeli troops shot at Mahfouzh Abu Turk, a journalist from Jerusalem, wounding him with a bullet in the shoulder.

 ? On October 21, 2000:
Jacques-Marie Bourget, a reporter of Paris Match, was wounded with a live bullet in the left lung shot by the Israeli occupation forces, while he was covering clashes between these forces and Palestinian civilians in Ramallah.  Bourget was evacuated to Ramallah governmental hospital in serious condition before being transferred to Paris for treatment.  Thierry Esch, a photographer for the same magazine, who was behind Bourget, stated to his magazine that there was no doubt that it was Israeli occupation troops that shot Bourget.  Patrick Jarnoux, an editor of the same magazine, stated to The Toronto Star, that based on the place where Bourget was, no one could hurt him except those who were in front of him -- namely, the Israeli occupation troops.

Israeli occupation troops shot at Bruno Stephen, an independent photographer of the French Liberation and the German Stern, and nearly wounded him in the throat.  This incident took place while Stephen was covering clashes.  During the same clashes, another two journalists were moderately to seriously wounded.  They are: Ibrahim Al-Hosari, of Watan Television Channel, who was wounded with a bullet in the ear; and Jamal Aarori, a photographer of Al-Ayyam daily local newspaper, who was wounded with a rubber-coated metal bullet in the hand.

 ? On October 23, 2000:
The Israeli occupation forces prevented the access of Nasser Shiokhi, a correspondent and a photographer of Associated Press, to the village of Al-Sammoua near Hebron.  He was attempting to cover clashes taking place at the time between Palestinian civilians and the Israeli occupation forces.  These forces also confiscated his press identity card.

 ? On October 24, 2000:
Jewish settlers near the village of Hawwara in Nablus attacked the car of Abdel-Rahman Khbeisa, a photographer of the Associated Press, with a huge rock that could easily have killed him.  Khbeisa stated that he was surprised by a huge stone that weighed about 10 kilograms being thrown at his car from a blue Subaru of Jewish settlers.  The front of his car and the front glass were hit.  He miraculously escaped death as he was driving his car at high speed and the stone was huge.  This incident took place in front of a feed factory at the entrance of the village of Hawwara, while Khbeisa was on his way to work.

 ? On October 29, 2000:
Israeli occupation troops shot at three journalists who were travelling by car to Jericho hospital to see patients who were wounded during clashes between Palestinian civilians and the Israeli occupation forces in the refugee camp of Aqbat Jaber near Jericho.  They journalists are:
1) Aadel Abu Abu Naeima, a correspondent of Al-Ayyam daily local newspaper and Reuters;
2) Fathi Brahma, a correspondent of Sawt Fasteen (Voice of Palestine); and
3) Emad Abu Sonbol, a correspondent of Al-Hayat Al-Jadida daily local newspaper and France Press.
It is worth mentioning that none of the above-mentioned journalists were hurt.

 ? On October 31, 2000:
The Israeli occupation forces shot at Ben Wedeman, 41 years old, an American, and a correspondent of CNN, wounding him with a live bullet in the right side.  He was evacuated to Shifa’ hospital.  This incident took place near Al-Mentar (Karni) Outlet, when Wedeman was covering clashes between Palestinian demonstrators and the Israeli occupation forces.  Eyewitnesses asserted that Wedeman was wearing a helmet and a bulletproof vest.  They added that the situation in the area was relatively calm, but it escalated when the Israeli occupation forces started to shoot intensively and "walk" tank shells in the direction of Wedeman and other journalists.  Wedeman was forced to lie down to escape the shooting.  A few minutes after the shooting started, and while he was trying to stand up with his back opposite to the Israeli occupation forces, he was wounded with a live bullet in the right side, and then was evacuated to Shifa’ hospital.

Two hours earlier, the Israeli occupation forces shot at Sams Oudetallah, a cameraman of Reuters, but he was not injured.  He ran from the area, leaving his equipment behind.

On the same day, the Israeli occupation forces arrested Suleiman Al-Shafe’i, a correspondent of Israeli television channel 2, at Erez Checkpoint, while he was on his way from Gaza to Israel.  Soldiers of the Israeli occupation forces informed Al-Shafe’iy that he was in violation of the military orders that prohibited Israeli citizens from entering the occupied Palestinian territories.

 ? On November 9, 2000:
The Israeli occupation forces shot at French journalist Robers Laubrant, a correspondent of Associated Press, wounding him with a live bullet in the thigh.  He was evacuated to hospital.  This incident took place while Laubrant was covering clashes between Palestinian civilians and the Israeli occupation forces near Al-Tuffah roadblock, between Khan Yunis city and Al-Mawasi (agricultural) area, under the control of the Israeli occupation forces.

 ? On November 11, 2000:
The Israeli occupation forces shot at American journalist Jaula Monakov, 37 years old, a correspondent of the Associated Press, wounding her with two live bullets in the pelvis and the bladder.  This incident took place while she was covering clashes between Palestinian civilians and the Israeli occupation forces in the vicinity of Bilal Ben Rabah mosque in Bethlehem.

On the same day, the car of journalist Marwan El-Ghoul was shot at for the second time by the Israeli occupation forces.  This incident took place while El-Ghoul was covering the burning of a civilian car in which two Palestinian civilians were shot dead by the Israeli occupation forces near Al-Matahen junction in Al-Qarara.  In his testimony to PCHR, El-Ghoul stated that he immediately went to the area when he learned about the shooting at a civilian car by the Israeli occupation forces.  He saw Israeli occupation troops using a robot to inhumanely pull the bodies of two Palestinian civilians from the car.  He added that Palestinian citizens in the area started to shout “Allah Akbar” (Allah is the greatest) as soon as they saw the inhumane way in which the Israeli occupation forces were dealing with the bodies of the Palestinian martyrs.  Immediately, the Israeli occupation forces shot at Palestinian citizens, wounding a number of them seriously.  At that time, El-Ghouls says he tried to reach his car to leave the area.  He was about two meters away from his car when it was shot at intensively.  As a result it was severely damaged.

On the same day, Samir Khalifa, a correspondent of the Palestinian Television, and a staff of accompanying cameramen were evacuated to Shifa’ hospital in Gaza, due to inhaling tear gas used by the Israeli occupation forces in the area where the above-mentioned Palestinian civilians were shot dead.  Khalifa and the staff were trapped under fire opened up by the Israeli occupation forces.

 ? On November 16, 2000:
Israeli occupation troops positioned in the vicinity of City Inn in Ramallah shot at Mohammed Zeid El-Kielani, a cameraman of Arab News Network (ANN), wounding him with a rubber-coated metal bullet in the shoulder.  This incident took place while El-Kielani was covering clashes between Palestinian civilians and the Israeli occupation forces at the entrance of Al-Bireh.

 ? On November 19, 2000:
Mouaffaq Turki Qassem Mattar, 46 years old, a photographer of Falasteen Al-Yawm (Palestine Today) Press in Ramallah, was wounded again, with a rubber-coated bullet in the head.  This incident took place while Mattar was covering clashes in Al-Mentar area to the east of Gaza City, during which the Israeli occupation forces shot dead a 14-year-old Palestinian child and wounded 23 Palestinian civilians, including Mattar himself.

PCHR condemns such practices by the Israeli occupation forces against local and international journalists.  PCHR considers these belligerent actions to be a part of the racist practices of the Israeli occupation forces.  PCHR stresses the following:

 ? The basic duty of journalists is to convey facts honestly, objectively and without bias to any party.  Achieving this requires the freedom to receive and impart information, without any restrictions that may hinder journalists from carrying out their duty.

 ? Practices of the Israeli occupation forces against journalists of local and international press agencies are part and parcel of the practices of these forces against defenseless Palestinian civilians.  The practices have caused the deaths of more than 210 Palestinians, while wounding thousands more.

 ? In light of the above, PCHR stresses that practices of the Israeli occupation forces against local and international journalists aim at terrifying them, so that they will stop imparting information and photos of the crimes committed by these forces against defenseless Palestinian civilians.  They aim at imposing media isolation on the occupied Palestinian territories in order to pave the way for the Israeli occupation forces to commit more crimes against defenseless Palestinian civilians. These crimes would be carried out away from the eyes of the world and without journalists being able to document them.

 ? Through these practices, the Israeli occupation forces seek to prevent journalists from documenting their crimes against defenseless Palestinian civilians in order to avoid being condemned by the international community and public opinion.

 ? PCHR is concerned about such practices because of the serious possibility that the Israeli occupation forces might escalate their crimes against defenseless Palestinian civilians in the occupied Palestinian territories.  In this context, PCHR reminds the international community of the practices of the Israeli occupation forces in 1982, when these forces isolated the refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila and oversaw a ruthless massacre of the Palestinian people; killing in cold blood and with collaboration from the Lebanese Al-Kataeb more than 3,000 defenseless Palestinian civilians in the two refugee camps.

 ? In light of the above, PCHR calls on the international community, especially the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention, to immediately intervene to implement UN Security Council Resolution 1322/2000, which calls for establishing an international commission of inquiry to investigate the crimes being committed by the Israeli occupation forces against defenseless Palestinian civilians in the occupied Palestinian territories.

 ? PCHR calls on the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention to meet their obligations under the Convention and immediately provide international protection for the Palestinian people in order to prevent crimes that could be committed by the Israeli occupation forces against defenseless Palestinian civilians.