IFJ Condemns Violence against Photojournalists by Israeli Military in West Bank

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today called on

Israeli authorities to investigate violence by its soldiers in the West Bank who attacked a group of local photojournalists last

week as they were covering demonstrations in the area for three international

news agencies.

In particular, the Federation is seeking reassurances from the

Government that journalists must in no way be targeted for their presence in the

vicinity of areas where fighting and political direct action are taking place.

"We are deeply concerned by attempts to justify attacks on

journalists on their presence near the events they are reporting on," said Jim Boumelha, IFJ President. "This would be a

dangerous departure from established practice under international humanitarian

law which enshrines the protection of journalists in conflict areas."

The IFJ has learned that three photographers were attacked by

soldiers on Saturday as they covered a demonstration taking place in Beit Omar,

near Hebron.

They were Hazem Bader from French news agency AFP, Reuters Abdul Rahim

Al-Aqusini and Associated Press Abdul Hafiz Hashlamoun.  One photographer said he was hit by a baton

and the other lost his hearing after a stun grenade exploded near him.

Hashlamoun and his colleague Mousa Alsher from AFP were victims of

an earlier assault by Israeli soldiers on Friday, reports say.

News agencies quoted a spokesperson for the Israeli Defence Forces

as saying that "anyone who chooses to be present in close proximity to conflict

areas or violent incident does so at their own risk".

The IFJ says that attacks on local journalists have become a

routine in occupied territories. Last month photographers working for five international agencies

were attacked by Israeli soldiers while they were covering a weekly

demonstration in Beit Jala, according to reports.

"Such reckless talk and behaviour of soldiers raise concerns over

safety of local journalists working in the area," added Boumelha. "Their safety

is of paramount importance and the Government in Israel, as the occupying power,

must live up to its international obligation and stop tolerating its security

forces attacking journalists."  

For more information

contact the IFJ at   +32 235 2207

The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists

in 125 countries worldwide