Attacks on the Press in 2004 - Israel and the Occupied Territories
|Publisher||Committee to Protect Journalists|
|Publication Date||February 2005|
|Cite as||Committee to Protect Journalists, Attacks on the Press in 2004 - Israel and the Occupied Territories, February 2005, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/47c566dd2d.html [accessed 23 April 2014]|
|Disclaimer||This 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.|
With Iraq dominating media security concerns in the Middle East, journalists covering the region's other main flash point quietly faced a familiar array of hazards on the job. The occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip remained two of the most dangerous and unpredictable assignments for journalists in 2004, largely because of the conduct of Israeli troops. Although the situation was not as dire as in other years, like 2002, when fighting was at peak levels, Israel's army and security services continued to commit a range of abuses against working journalists, who faced the possibilities of gunfire, physical abuse, and arrest, in addition to sharp limits on their freedom of movement.
Since the second intifada began in 2000, fire from Israeli forces has killed several journalists and injured dozens. Although the overall intensity of the conflict in the Occupied Territories has decreased, the risks to journalists remain real. And as in years past, Palestinian journalists suffered the most casualties.
At least one reporter was killed in 2004: Mohamed Abu Halima, a journalism student at Al-Najah University in the West Bank city of Nablus and a correspondent for the university-affiliated Al-Najah radio station. Abu Halima was killed by gunfire, apparently from Israeli troops, while reporting on their activities near the Balata refugee camp outside Nablus. Local journalists said that when he was shot, Abu Halima was standing among a crowd of people in an area where Palestinian youths and the Israeli army had earlier clashed. A spokesman for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said that "as far as we know, [Abu Halima] was not a journalist"; that he "was armed and he opened fire on IDF forces"; and that the IDF "returned fire." Eyewitnesses denied those allegations.
Journalists came under IDF fire in a number of other incidents, narrowly escaping serious injury. On March 9, Agence France-Presse (AFP) photographer Saif Dahla was wounded in the leg by either bullets or bullet shrapnel while covering an IDF incursion into the West Bank city of Jenin. Dahla and other journalists had been covering Palestinian youths throwing stones at an Israeli tank when they said a machine-gunner opened fire in their direction. Dahla and another colleague near him at the time were wearing flak jackets, helmets, and clothes marked with "Press." AFP photographer Mahmoud Homs was wounded in the leg in Gaza in May while covering youths throwing stones at Israeli troops.
During a major Israeli military operation in Gaza in October, the Foreign Press Association of Israel (FPA) protested that journalists in marked media vehicles were "targeted with live rounds of ammunition" in at least three instances while covering clashes. The FPA said that while it was unclear who opened fire, the group identified some cases in which IDF soldiers were responsible.
The IDF continued to launch military strikes against media outlets accused of "incitement." In June, the IDF carried out a missile attack in Gaza on a building that houses several media organizations, including the BBC, the Qatar-based broadcaster Al-Jazeera, and the German television channel ARD. Officials said they targeted the building because the Palestinian militant group Hamas used it as a base for distributing "incitement material." Israeli authorities also said it was a "communication center which maintained constant contact with terrorists," as well as a "channel through which Hamas claimed responsibility for terrorist attacks." The intended target may have been the Al-Jeel Press Office, which had previously housed a weekly magazine with Islamist sympathies. Two employees of Ramattan Broadcast Services, a company that provides studio equipment and services to international news outlets in Gaza and that also operates from the building, were slightly injured in the attack.
At least seven journalists have been killed in the Occupied Territories since 2000 – all by Israeli gunfire. The army has failed to conduct public and serious investigations into most cases, including the deaths of British freelance cameraman James Miller and Nazih Darwazeh, a cameraman for Associated Press Television News. Both men were killed by Israeli army gunfire within a two-week span in the spring of 2003. In February, CPJ wrote to IDF Chief of the General Staff Lt. Gen. Moshe Yaalon requesting information about the status of IDF investigations into both cases. In its response, the IDF said that an investigation into Miller's death was still under way and was expected to be concluded "in the near future." The IDF also said that the Military Advocate Generals Corps was reviewing an inquiry into Darwazeh's death. There were no new developments in either case by year's end.
Attacks against reporters by militant Jewish settlers and Israeli forces continued. In June, Israeli border police beat unconscious veteran freelance photographer Ata Oweisat when he resisted attempts to confiscate his camera. Oweisat had been covering a demonstration against Israel's West Bank separation barrier.
Since 2000, the Israeli military has made it difficult and dangerous for journalists to move around the Occupied Territories. Army checkpoints often produce long delays for foreign reporters, whom soldiers may on a whim decide not to let through. The army frequently designates areas as closed military zones, which are off-limits to the media. Foreign journalists, however, are sometimes able to use alternate routes and back roads to circumvent these restrictions.
In 2004, it was harder for foreign reporters to get into the Gaza Strip, the scene of increasing violence and several intense Israeli military operations. Journalists were briefly prevented from entering Gaza in March following an Israeli military strike that killed Hamas leader Ahmed Yassin, and during army operations in the fall. In April, the army temporarily instituted cumbersome regulations that required at least five journalists to be present at Gaza's Erez crossing before being allowed to pass.
Palestinian journalists face much more stringent limitations on their freedom of movement in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. It is nearly impossible for most to pass through the army checkpoints located throughout the West Bank because they lack proper press accreditation. In January 2002, Israel's Government Press Office (GPO) suspended the accreditation of most Palestinian journalists from the territories, including those who work with foreign media outlets. Accreditation in the form of a GPO press card helps facilitate journalists' movement through checkpoints.
A welcome decision by Israel's High Court of Justice in April ruled that the GPO could not impose a blanket restriction on accreditation for Palestinian journalists, and that Palestinian journalists should receive press credentials provided they are given security clearance. While news organizations had hoped the ruling would translate into more press cards for Palestinian journalists, little has changed in reality, and only a handful of Palestinian journalists have received new cards. In a meeting with CPJ, GPO Director Danny Seaman said that journalists who apply for GPO cards must be given a security clearance and show that they are required to work in Israel. He made it clear that the process of obtaining cards would be difficult for Palestinian staff.
In recent years, the GPO has also made it more difficult for foreign camera crews to receive permits to work in Israel and the Occupied Territories. Permits are now given only after considerable wrangling and are temporary. The GPO claims that the new policy is the result of pressure from Israeli unions; however, foreign journalists say it is another pretext to hamper their work.
Unlike during the first intifada (1987-1993), few Israeli journalists now venture into the Occupied Territories, with the exception of a handful of enterprising reporters or those embedded with Israeli military units. Journalists cite fears of attacks by Palestinian militants as the determining factor. In March 2001, the army issued an order banning all Israelis from entering the Occupied Territories unless they signed a waiver absolving Israeli authorities of any responsibility for their safety. During the army's incursion in late September and October, the government issued a stricter ban on Israelis entering Gaza that prevented even those willing to sign a waiver from entering.
Security forces deported at least two journalists during 2004. In May, 60-year-old British journalist Peter Hounam, who was working on a BBC documentary, was detained after arranging a video interview with whistle-blower Mordechai Vanunu, who had just finished serving an 18-year sentence for treason for passing on information about Israel's nuclear program to the foreign media. After his release, Vanunu was barred from speaking to foreigners or talking about his time as a technician in Israel's Dimona nuclear facility. Hounam, who initially broke Vanunu's story in the British newspaper The Times in 1986, had arranged for an Israeli woman to conduct the video interview on his behalf since Vanunu was not allowed to speak with foreigners. Police detained Hounam and passed him on to Shin Bet, Israel's security service. Hounam said he was accused of espionage, held in a cell with excrement on the walls for a day, and finally released without charge on the condition that he leave the country within 24 hours. A month later, the government barred Hounam from entering Israel in the future because he was deemed a potential security threat.
In another case, authorities detained activist and freelance journalist Ewa Jasiewicz upon her arrival at Ben Gurion Airport in August, when she was denied entry for "security reasons" and for her affiliation with a pro-Palestinian activist group. She was held for about three weeks when she attempted to contest her detention through the courts, but she eventually gave up and was deported to England. Officials cited Jasiewicz's involvement with the International Solidarity Movement, a pro-Palestinian activist group that stages high-profile protests against Israeli military policies in the Occupied Territories, and her "contact with members of terrorist organizations." Jasiewicz said she came to Israel to write about the Israeli peace movement for the leftist monthly magazine Red Pepper.
Palestinian Authority Territories
The death of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat marked the end of an era in both Palestinian and Mideast politics. Whether Arafat's passing would translate into improved conditions for Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, as some proclaimed, was far from certain. Throughout 2004, lawlessness prevailed throughout much of the West Bank and Gaza Strip amid the power vacuum left by a debilitated Palestinian Authority (PA). As a result, journalists found themselves increasingly imperiled by armed gangs, renegade political factions, and the remnants of the Palestinian security forces, which frequently targeted journalists. As in 2003, these groups assaulted journalists and ransacked media offices in what were widely viewed as retaliatory strikes against unwelcome news coverage, particularly about political struggles among Palestinian factions.
In February, three masked Palestinian men carrying automatic rifles stormed the offices of Ramallah-based Al-Quds Educational Television, assaulted staffers, and destroyed equipment for reasons that remain unclear. That same month, unknown perpetrators destroyed computer equipment in the office of the Gaza City weekly newspaper Al-Daar, which was allied with former Gaza Security Chief Mohammed Dahlan. In February, unknown assailants set fire to the car belonging to Al-Hayat al-Jadida reporter Munir Abu Rizk in Gaza in what was thought to be retaliation for his newspaper's coverage, a local Palestinian human rights group reported.
Journalists working for the Qatar-based satellite channel Al-Jazeera and the Dubai-based satellite channel Al-Arabiya said they received telephone threats from men identifying themselves as Palestinian Authority security personnel or dissident members of Arafat's Fatah organization. The threats centered on the stations' coverage of the fighting in the Gaza Strip that followed Arafat's July 17 appointment of his cousin, Musa Arafat, as head of security for the Palestinian territories. Saifeddin Shahin, Gaza correspondent for Al-Arabiya, said a person claiming to represent PA security forces threatened to burn the station's bureau if the station was not careful about what it reported, a reference to the station's recent coverage of the internal political situation. An Al-Jazeera correspondent said a caller identifying himself as a representative of a dissident wing of Fatah told him that the station would "bear responsibility" for what it had reported.
In a particularly brutal attack, two masked men beat Agence France-Presse photographer Jamal Aruri with wooden sticks outside his home. Aruri believes that the assailants were PA security personnel or militants close to the PA. The attack came after a photograph that Aruri had taken in 2003 – of three men wanted by Israel who had been holed up in Yasser Arafat's compound – was posted on the Internet.
The pro-PA Palestinian Journalists' Association threatened to take action against journalists who covered internal strife. In June, the association announced a ban "on dealing with or handling any type of statements that touch on internal events and carry between their lines words that slander, libel or harm others." It said journalists who violated this code would be punished, though it did not specify how.
In a chilling new development, militants in the Gaza Strip abducted one reporter and failed in an earlier attempt to seize another. On September 27, veteran CNN producer Riad Ali was seized at gunpoint from a car in which he was riding with CNN colleagues. He was released the next day unharmed. In May, armed men attempted to bundle New York Times reporter James Bennet into a waiting car while he stood outside a hospital in Gaza during an escalation in the fighting. He resisted his attackers and avoided capture.
2004 Documented Cases – Israel and the Occupied Territories
JANUARY 8, 2004
Posted: January 29, 2004
Saifeddin Shahin, Al-Arabiyya
Shahin, Gaza correspondent for the Dubai-based satellite news channel, Al-Arabiyya, was attacked and beaten by five armed men after the car he was in was stopped by the men at a major Gaza city intersection.
Shahin told CPJ that the attack, which occurred at around 1 p.m. and was witnessed by several pedestrians and people in other cars, lasted a few minutes. Shahin said that the armed men, four of whom were hooded stopped the car forced Shahin out of the vehicle. A passenger that was traveling with Shahin was not allowed to exit the car and was not assaulted.
Shahin said the men beat him with their fists, clubs, and rifle butts and fired shots in the air, scaring pedestrians and, according to Shahin, damaging a building in the vicinity. Shahin said that the man, who was not wearing a hood, claimed that they were from Fatah, a Palestinian militant group linked to Yasser Arafat, and told Shahin not to talk about Fatah again in his reports. Shahin said that he was treated at a local hospital for injuries to his shoulder, arm, head, and back.
Shahin said that he did not know what segment triggered the attack, but said that recently he had done a piece on a Fatah celebration marking the anniversary of the founding of the group. Shahin thinks that the station's reporting on internal cracks within Fatah may be the source of the attack. A colleague of Shahin's thought that what may have upset Fatah was that the celebration was portrayed as disorganized.
Shahin said that he received threatening phone calls from people claiming to represent Fatah a few days before the attack. He also said that a Fatah official spokesman denied Fatah's involvement in the attack, but expressed apologies for what happened to Shahin. According to Shahin, the group is very fragmented and a certain faction of the group could have been responsible.
Shahin said that based on his descriptions of the unhooded armed man to Palestinian Authority police, a man was detained soon after the attack, but released after a short detention. Shahin said that he doubts that anybody will be apprehended and prosecuted for the attack.
FEBRUARY 2, 2004
Posted: February 5, 2004
Al-Quds Educational Television
Haroun Abu Arrah, Al-Quds Educational Television
Abdel Ghani Velbiessi, Al-Quds Educational Television
At around 4:00 a.m. on Monday, February 2, three masked Palestinian men carrying automatic rifles stormed the offices of the Ramallah-based Al-Quds Educational Television, according to staff. Assistant Manager Haroun Abu Arrah, one of two station employees present at the time, told CPJ that one of the men demanded a "tape," and when Abu Arrah asked for clarification the assailants began beating him and intern Velbiessi with rifle butts and fists.
Abu Arrah said that after the beating, two of the assailants went into another room and fired several rounds at some of the station's equipment, destroying computer screens and video equipment. During the shooting, Abu Arrah and Velbiessi fled the building.
Abu Arrah and station Director Ayman Bardawil said Palestinian police are investigating the incident, but that no arrests have been made. Neither men are aware of a motive for the assault and noted that the station had not aired anything controversial in recent days, nor had it received any threats.
FEBRUARY 3, 2004
Posted: February 5, 2004
Employees of the recently established Gaza City weekly newspaper Al-Daar discovered when they returned to work from the Eid al-Adha holiday that day that most of the computer equipment in the office had been destroyed by unknown assailants. Hassan al-Kashif, the magazine's editor in chief, told CPJ he believes that the vandalism came in retaliation for the magazine's editorial stance against official Palestinian corruption.
Palestinian sources told CPJ that Al-Daar – which is close to former Palestinian preventive security chief Mohamed Dahlan, who is a leader in Yasser Arafat's Fatah organization – may have been attacked because of internal political conflicts within Fatah.
MARCH 9, 2004
Posted: March 9, 2004
Saif Dahla, Agence-France Presse
Palestinian photographer Saif Dahla was shot by Israel Defense Forces (IDF) in the West Bank city of Jenin. Two witnesses-Dahla's brother, Reuters photographer Said Dahla and Reuters cameraman Ali Samoudi-told CPJ that there were about half a dozen journalists standing together on the sidewalk of a residential neighborhood in Jenin, covering an Israeli incursion into the city in the early afternoon when the shooting occurred.
Said Dahla and Samoudi said that Saif Dahla was shot when a soldier in a tank about 20 meters (22 yards) away fired a few rounds from a machine gun. One of the bullets, or shrapnel, injured Saif Dahla in his left leg. The journalists said that prior to the incident, Palestinian youths had been throwing stones at the tank, but that when the shooting occurred, the area was quiet. Samoudi said that gunfire exchanges between Israeli troops and Palestinian gunmen in the city prior to the incident did not occur in the vicinity where the journalists were working.
Both journalists said that they were clearly identifiable as members of the press, wearing flak jackets, helmets, and marked clothing. They also said that they had been working in the area for more than an hour, adding that the Israeli soldiers in the tank that fired upon them and in other vehicles that were in the vicinity had seen them working the whole time.
According to the journalists, when Dahla was shot, they rushed him into a nearby home, and an ambulance arrived later to take him to a local hospital. Both journalists said that as they were moving Dahla into the house, another burst of gunfire came from the tank.
Said Dahla told CPJ that his brother went home after being treated for his wounds, which he said were not serious.
An Israeli army spokesperson, Major Sharon Feingold told CPJ that Israeli troops entered Jenin to arrest a "senior terrorist," and that "there was a massive exchange of gunfire, it seems as if an AFP photographer was very lightly wounded." Feingold added that the soldiers involved in today's operation are being debriefed, and that the army is "trying to find out if it was IDF gunfire that accidentally injured the photographer."
MARCH 22, 2004
Posted: March 23, 2004
Mohamed Abu Halima, journalism student and radio correspondent for Al-Najah
According to local Palestinian journalists, Abu Halima, who was a journalism student at Al-Najah University in Nablus and a correspondent for university-affiliated Al-Najah radio station, was shot at the entrance of the Balata refugee camp, outside the city of Nablus. Abu Halima, who also worked as a freelance photographer, was reporting on Israeli troop activity near the camp.
Moaz Shraida, a producer and host at the station who was speaking to the journalist moments before he was killed, said that Abu Halima described three Israeli jeeps about a mile (2 kilometers) away from the camp's entrance, where he was standing. Shraida said that Abu Halima told him that he had begun to take photographs of the jeeps. Shraida said that he then heard gunfire and lost contact with Abu Halima.
Shraida spoke later to Abu Halima's cousin who was at the scene. The cousin said that Abu Halima was struck by Israeli gunfire in the stomach and died at a local hospital. CPJ has not been able to speak with Abu Halima's cousin or independently confirm his account.
A family member of Abu Halima told CPJ that Abu Halima was dressed in street clothing the day of the shooting. Local journalists told CPJ that witnesses they spoke to said that Abu Halima was standing among a crowd of people at the entrance of the camp when he was shot. The journalists also said that prior to the shooting there had been clashes in the area between Palestinian youths and the Israeli army.
In a voicemail message to CPJ, a spokesman for the Israel Defense Force who identified himself as Sam Weiderman said that "as far as we know, [Abu Halima] was not a journalist"; that Abu Halima "was armed and he opened fire on IDF forces"; and that the IDF "returned fire."
CPJ is continuing to investigate the case.
APRIL 23, 2004
Posted: July 23, 2004
Jamal Aruri, Agence France-Presse
Aruri, a photographer with the news agency Agence France-Presse (AFP), was severely beaten by three masked Palestinians armed with sticks and clubs when he exited his car near his home in Ramallah late in the evening.
Aruri and another Palestinian journalist familiar with the case believe that the attackers were affiliated with the Palestinian Authority, possibly militants with the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, which is considered close to Yasser Arafat's ruling Fatah movement.
Aruri said the attack stemmed from a photo he had taken several months earlier outside the Muqata, Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat's headquarters in Ramallah. He said that the photo was of several men who were wanted by Israeli authorities who had either been summoned to, or had taken refuge in, Arafat's compound.
Aruri said that Arafat's office harassed him and warned him to be careful about what he photographed after AFP published the photo but said that he was not physically harmed.
In April, AFP did a story on Arafat expelling wanted militants from his compound, some of whom were in the photo that Aruri had taken. Aruri said the original photo he had taken was still accessible on AFP's archive and on Web sites, and that it was published again.
He said that the militants who were in his photo were angered by its republication, and that they, or someone sent by them, attacked him, beating him repeatedly with clubs and sticks. The assault was so brutal that Aruri broke his left arm, severely cut his right hand, and had numerous bruises all over his face and body.
The assailants also destroyed two of his cameras and some computer equipment he had with him at the time. Aruri could not work for more than a month due to his injuries and is still given less rigorous assignments.
After complaints by Palestinian journalists to the Palestinian Authority, Aruri received an apology from the Palestinian Authority.
MAY 19, 2004
Posted: May 20, 2004
James Bennet, The New York Times
Three Palestinian men attempted to abduct Bennet, the Jerusalem correspondent for The New York Times, while he was standing outside Al-Najar Hospital, near Rafah in the Gaza Strip.
According to Bennet, who described the incident in a story published in The Times, at least three Palestinian men attempted the kidnapping while he stood outside the hospital talking on his cell phone. Bennet wrote that a "stranger approached offering a handshake, a smile and the word, 'Welcome.'" When the journalist went to shake the man's hand, a second man grabbed him and tried to push him into a Mercedes car that pulled up at the scene.
After Bennet struggled with the men and shouted for help, Palestinian police officers rushed to the scene, and the men fled in the car. Bennet said that while at the hospital, he had identified himself as an American.
A motive for the attempted abduction is unclear. However, Bennet said in his dispatch that, "Anger at Americans has been building here for three years over the Bush administration's perceived tilt toward Israel, the occupation of Iraq and, most recently, images of prisoner abuse in Iraq.... An American might also be considered valuable for use in bargaining with Israel."
MAY 26, 2004
Posted: June 10, 2004
Peter Hounam, BBC
Hounam, a freelance journalist from Britain, was detained overnight by Israel's internal security services, Shin Bet.
The journalist was in the country working on a documentary for the BBC on Mordechai Vanunu, a nuclear whistleblower who was recently released after spending 18 years in an Israeli prison for revealing nuclear secrets to Hounam. In 1986, Hounam broke the story of Israel's nuclear program by writing an article for the London-based Sunday Times.
The terms of Vanunu's release prohibit him from meeting with foreigners, including members of the foreign press, unless approved by government authorities.
Hounam wrote an article describing his detention, which was published in the Sunday Times on May 30. In the article, Hounam said he was detained as he was driving to the home of Yael Lotan, an Israeli journalist who had conducted interviews with Vanunu on his behalf for the documentary. Israeli plainclothes agents took Hounam back to his hotel, where they searched his room and confiscated his belongings.
Hounam said he was then taken to the Shin Bet's offices in Jerusalem for questioning, where he spent the night. Agents questioned him about the whereabouts of the Vanunu interview tapes. The next day, officials told Hounam he was suspected of "spying on Israeli nuclear secrets."
Authorities released the journalist on the evening of May 27 and returned his personal belongings after the British Embassy and Hounam's Israeli attorneys intervened on his behalf. The journalist left Israel on May 28.
A few days before Hounam's detention, Chris Mitchell, a BBC producer working with Hounam, was briefly detained at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv. Officials confiscated Mitchell's videotapes and his cell phone. The journalist's belongings were never returned.
MAY 5, 2004
Posted: June 16, 2004
Mahmoud Al-Hams, Agence-France Press
Al-Hams, a photographer working with Agence France-Presse, was injured by shrapnel and bullet wounds from Israel Defense Forces fire to both legs as he was working in Deir El Balah, a town in central Gaza, according to the journalist and several press reports.
Al-Hams told CPJ that he and several other journalists had gone to the area in the morning to cover an Israeli incursion into the town. He said that he and several other journalists wore clothing and gear clearly identifying themselves as journalists. The Associated Press, citing witnesses, reported that there were no armed clashes between Palestinian gunmen and Israeli soldiers at the time. Al-Hams said Palestinian youths were throwing stones at the Israeli troops and tanks, which he and other journalists were photographing or filming. One Palestinian journalist at the scene who spoke to CPJ confirmed Al-Hams's account.
Al-Hams said that he was about 50 meters (165 feet) away from the Israeli troop position, which included at least one tank, and that he and other Palestinian journalists were not standing near the young Palestinians.
Al-Hams was wounded when machine gunfire from an Israeli tank struck him in both legs. He said he saw the Israeli soldier fire in his direction. Press reports said several other people were wounded in the incident. Al-Hams told CPJ that his injuries were not serious. He left the hospital after one night.
One day after the shooting, a spokesman for the Israeli army announced that the circumstances of the incident were under investigation, according to Agence-France Presse. The press agency's Jerusalem bureau told CPJ that it had heard nothing since then.
JULY 20, 2004
Posted: July 21, 2004
The pro-Palestinian Authority Palestinian Journalists' Association threatened local journalists covering internal strife among Palestinian militant and political organizations. According to Reuters, which reported a partial text of the statement, the association announced a ban "on dealing with or handling any type of statements that touch on internal events and carry between their lines words that slander, libel or harm others." The statement said journalists who violated this code would be punished, though it did not specify the punishment.
Several Palestinian journalists told CPJ they have ignored the order but have become more cautious in their reporting for fear of reprisal.
Similarly, in August 2002, the syndicate tried to bar journalists from photographing Palestinian children wearing military uniforms or carrying weapons, arguing that such footage violated children's rights and served "the interests of Israel and its propaganda against the Palestinian people." The order was rescinded a few days later amid local and international protest.
SEPTEMBER 27, 2004
Posted: September 28, 2004
Riad Ali, CNN
Ali, a veteran CNN producer, was kidnapped at gunpoint from a car on a main street in Gaza City. Ali had arrived in Gaza just hours before gunmen seized him from a car at about 6:30 p.m. local time. CNN colleagues, including correspondent Ben Wedeman, were also passengers in the car. A veteran CNN producer, Ali had handled a number of earlier assignments in Gaza.
Ali was freed the next day. CNN said a tape surfaced shortly before Ali's release in which the producer said he was being held by the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, a militant Palestinian group with ties to Fatah, the group headed by Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.
Ali said on the tape that he is a Druze, a minority Arab population in Israel whose members often serve in the Israeli army. He called for the Druze not to serve in the Israeli army. No other demands were made.