IFJ Backs Palestinian Campaign Against Media Kidnappings

The IFJ today gave its full backing to calls by Palestinian journalists to end the strategy of kidnapping which Palestinian extremists have been using to terrorise foreigners in the region.

Earlier today, the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate in Gaza issued a strong statement of condemnation following the kidnapping of three journalists in Gaza and called on extremists to stop targeting journalists and other foreign civilians.

Two French journalists, Caroline Laurent of Elle and Alfred Yaghobzadeh of Sipa, and South Korean journalist Yong Tae-young of KBS were taken by gunmen from a central Gaza hotel, hours after an Israeli army raid on a prison in the West Bank city of Jericho.

“The call by the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate (PJS) is a demand for humanity and tolerance which will be supported by journalists everywhere,” said Robert Shaw, IFJ Communications Director.

According to local reports the gunmen were members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. Gunmen also attempted to break into the offices of the German television network ARD in Gaza City, causing some damage.

The IFJ says that journalists and other civilians not concerned with the tense condition of Palestinian and Israeli politics should not become scapegoats for a breakdown in political dialogue. “Journalists and media staff must be free to go about their business without fear of intimidation,” said Shaw.

The IFJ says that it will work closely with the PJS, which has branches in Ramallah in the West Bank and in Gaza, to try to lift the pressure currently being exerted on journalists.

“As always when the political fabric begins to tear it is often journalists and people who work with them who become victims, said Shaw. “We will support our Palestinian colleagues in all of their efforts to lift this unacceptable pressure on media”.

The IFJ is particularly concerned over the conditions in which local Palestinian journalists are working given that many of them now have to take the place of evacuated foreign journalists.

The IFJ welcomed the support of both its French affiliates and the Journalists Association of Korea (JAK) in their efforts to release the three journalists and their ongoing safety concerns for their Palestinian colleagues.

“The tasks facing Palestinian journalists to try to report in a professional way from the region is enormous,” said Shaw. “The last thing they should face is a further threat of kidnapping or illegal detention”.

Four journalists were kidnapped last year in the Gaza Strip. All were freed by their kidnappers.

For further information contact the IFJ : +32 2 235 22 07
The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 110 countries