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Attacks on the Press in 1996 - Israel and the Occupied Territories

Publisher Committee to Protect Journalists
Publication Date February 1997
Cite as Committee to Protect Journalists, Attacks on the Press in 1996 - Israel and the Occupied Territories, February 1997, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/47c56507c.html [accessed 23 September 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Despite the fact that "autonomy" is the regional catchword since Israel relinquished control of parts of the West Bank and Gaza Strip to the Palestinian National Authority in 1994, Israel continues to impose restrictions upon the Palestinian media. The May election of Benjamin Netanyahu as prime minister has had little effect on these conditions. Palestinian journalists chafe under severe limitations on their freedom of movement. In the aftermath of a series of suicide bombings in Israel, the Israeli government closed access to Israel from the West Bank and Gaza and in the process, even prevented accredited Palestinian journalists from both the local and foreign press from entering the country. During that period, Israeli authorities also denied Palestinian journalists access to East Jerusalem, where many press offices are located.

Even when the Israelis partially lifted the closure, Palestinian journalists faced obstacles in gaining entrance into Israel. In May, members of the Association of Palestinian Broadcasting Journalists were denied permits to travel to Israel to report on the Israeli elections. Other Palestinian journalists, meanwhile, complain about the daily impediments they face entering and exiting Jerusalem. Those traveling by car must stop for routine security checks at checkpoints where vehicles are prohibited from crossing. As a result, journalists – especially camera crews – are burdened by having to carry their equipment to the other side.

In September, 13 journalists were severely wounded during armed clashes that erupted between Israeli and Palestinian forces following the Israeli government's decision to open a controversial archaeological tunnel in Jerusalem near the Temple Mount and the al-Aqsa Mosque. Among the victims were 10 Palestinian journalists who were wounded by Israeli gunfire in what observers described as inadvertent crossfire. Some of the wounded, however, accused Israeli forces of negligence for failing to notice the journalists who were conspicuously carrying camera equipment and were physically far removed from both sides of the conflict. Two Israeli journalists were also wounded during the conflict, shot by Palestinian police as they viewed the fighting from atop a tower in Gaza. It was unclear whether or not the police were aware that both men were journalists.

One of the Israeli government's most disturbing abridgments of press freedom took place in Lebanon, where on June 13, the army abducted the Lebanese journalist Ali Diya from its nine-mile occupation zone in south Lebanon. Diya, a stringer for Agence France-Presse and the Lebanese daily newspaper Al-Safir, was detained in Israel for over a month on suspicion of "aiding the Shi'ite militia Hezbollah (Party of God)." CPJ issued a letter of protest to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on June 19, calling for Diya's release. He was released on July 18.

June 13
Ali Diya, Agence France-Presse (AFP), Al-Safir, Future Television, IMPRISONED

Diya, a Lebanese journalist and stringer for AFP, was summoned to the headquarters of the South Lebanon Army (SLA) in the Israeli-occupied town of Marjayoun, Lebanon. The SLA, a pro-Israel militia, handed Diya over to Israeli soldiers, who took him to Israel. On June 18, a spokesman for the Israeli army said that Diya was being held and interrogated in Israel on suspicion of "aiding the [Lebanese] Shi'ite militia Hezbollah, and [he] may be charged with serious crimes." Diya, who is also a contributor to Beirut's Al-Safir newspaper and the Beirut-based Future Television, has reported on clashes between Israeli soldiers and Hezbollah guerrillas in southern Lebanon. CPJ, in a letter to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, denounced the Israeli army's abduction of Diya in Lebanon, calling it a violation of international law, and demanded that Israel release Diya. Diya was released on July 18.

August 8
Naim Toubassi, Arab Journalists' Association, HARASSED

Toubassi, head of the Arab Journalists' Association, was detained briefly by Israeli police during a protest at the Ram checkpoint, at the northern entrance to Jerusalem from the West Bank. He was taken into custody for "violating public order" but was released shortly thereafter without charge. Toubassi and other journalists were protesting the Israeli closure of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, which prevents journalists from entering Israel unless they have special permission from Israeli authorities.

September 6
Uri Avneri, Maariv, ATTACKED

Avneri, a columnist for the daily newspaper Maariv, was attacked by a crowd during a Likud National Committee meeting in Tel Aviv. Upon entering the meeting hall and presenting his press credentials, Avneri was greeted with shouts from angry participants who then punched him and forced him out of the meeting hall. The incident took place in the presence of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Likud National Committee Chair and acting Minister of Justice Tsahi Hanegbi. Neither took action to restrain the crowd.

September 25
Abdel Karim Zeneid, Palestinian Broadcasting Corp. (PBC), ATTACKED
Murad Siyyam, PBC, ATTACKED
Ali Shanaan, PBC, ATTACKED

Zeneid and Siyyam, PBC cameramen, and Shanaan, their driver, were struck in the head by rubber bullets fired randomly by Israeli forces during clashes with Palestinians on the West Bank, near Ramallah. They were treated for their injuries and released from the hospital the same day.

September 26
Muhammad Saadi, Palestinian Broadcasting Corp. (PBC), ATTACKED
Ahmed Kaddoumi, PBC, ATTACKED
Abdel Nasser, PBC, ATTACKED
Khaled Abu Hattab, PBC, ATTACKED
Ghassan Kandah, PBC, ATTACKED

Saadi and Kaddoumi, reporters for the PBC; PBC cameramen Nasser and Abu Hattab; and driver Kandah were wounded by rubber bullets fired from Israeli positions during clashes between Israeli soldiers and Palestinians near the West Bank town of Ramallah. They were treated and released from the hospital the same day.

September 26
Issa Freij, CBS, ATTACKED

Freij, a cameraman for the U.S. television network CBS, was shot in the chest during armed clashes between Israelis and Palestinians in Ramallah in the West Bank. His injury appeared to be the result of random cross fire. Freij was taken to the hospital, and reportedly was in good condition.

September 26
Manoocher Deghati, Agence France-Presse (AFP), ATTACKED

Deghati, a photographer for AFP, was shot in the leg during gun battles between Israelis and Palestinians near Ramallah in the West Bank. Deghati suffered fractures to his right leg. He was taken to Ramallah Hospital and later transported to Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital in West Jerusalem, where he underwent surgery.

September 26
Majdi al-Arabid, Worldwide Television News (WTN), ATTACKED

Al-Arabid, a cameraman for WTN, was wounded in both hands and one of his legs by random gunfire in Gaza, near the Erez checkpoint, during clashes between Israelis and Palestinians. Al-Arabid wanted his injuries treated in Israel, but both Palestinian and Israeli authorities denied him permission to leave Gaza and enter Israel. The next morning he was transported to Cairo to receive medical care.

September 30
Israeli Journalists, HARASSED

The Israeli army banned all Israeli journalists from traveling to areas under control of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) in the West Bank and Gaza. The ban was imposed on the grounds that conditions in the PNA-controlled territories were too dangerous for journalists after three days of armed clashes between Israelis and Palestinians. In spite of the ban, Israeli journalists traveled freely throughout the West Bank and Gaza, and the ban was rescinded the following day, after protests from the Israeli media.

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