The IFJ, the world's largest organisation of journalists, today accused Israel of targeting Palestinian media and called for an end to harassment of reporters in the West Bank and Gaza. According to leaders of the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate, more than 40 journalists, most of them cameramen and press photographers, have been injured, since September. The numbers include eight foreign journalists of different nationalities. "However, some reports have the numbers at twice that level", says the IFJ.
"The attacks on media have continued throughout the unrest in West Bank and Gaza", says the IFJ. "There is a strong suspicion that media are being singled out for special treatment. This is completely unacceptable and is a violation of international law," said Aidan White, General Secretary of the IFJ. The IFJ points to Article 79 of Protocol Additional to the Geneva Convention which says that journalists must be treated as civilians and non-combatants.
In addition, the IFJ claims that:
At least three main media, including the Palestinian Public Broadcasting building, the newspaper Al Hayat Al Jadeedah, and Al Salam Television, have been shelled by Israeli forces.
There has been systematic destruction of journalists' equipment, including cars with press markings and cameras.
The Israeli authorities have prevented circulation of Palestinian newspapers from the West Bank to Gaza for at least three days.
The authorities are restricting free movement of Palestinian journalists.
There have also been reports of harassment of media by Palestinian security forces. "We have called on all sides to respect the rights of journalists," said the IFJ, referring to a declaration in December by the Federation's ruling Executive Committee. "But harassment is continuing, particularly on the Israeli side and again we insist that journalists and media staff are taken out of the firing line."
The IFJ called on media organisations to do more to promote safe conditions for journalists and other media staff. "Media teams need protective equipment and better insurance agreements," said Aidan White. "International codes of practice issued by the IFJ and leading media organisations like the BBC and CNN, should be fully implemented now."
The IFJ today called on the Israeli authorities to end harassment of journalists and not to target media outlets in Palestinian areas.