Safety Training Palestine February 2002

Jerusalem, West Bank and Gaza Strip

9th - 14th February 2002

Introduction

This mission was carried out by the International Federation of Journalists and International Media Support. AKE Ltd., UK provided the risk awareness and first aid training.

The primary aim of the mission was to bring immediate support to Palestinian journalists who are daily exposed to danger while at work. Five Safety Training seminars were organised to provide useful information on safety measures and first aid practice. The seminars took place in Ramallah, Hebron, Nablus, Gaza City and Jerusalem, respectively.

The Safety Training Courses

Five one-day customised safety training seminars for Palestinian journalists were held in Ramallah, Hebron, Nablus, Gaza, and Jerusalem from 9 to 13 February 2002. More than 100 Palestinian journalists attended the seminars, which were conducted by an instructor from AKE Ltd, UK, a company specializing in courses specifically for journalists working in hostile regions. Its courses are used by major national and international news organisations.

The risk awareness training for Palestinian journalists forms part of a European Union project in the region. The IFJ/IMS safety training seminars were aimed at Palestinian media professionals in both the West Bank and Gaza.

In organising the safety awareness training seminars, the IFJ worked closely with its affiliate the Palestinian Journalists' Syndicate (PJS).

The assistance of the delegations of the European Union was called in to facilitate the release of 100 medical kits impounded by airport authorities (European Union, Tel Aviv Delegation) and assistance was received for transport in and around Gaza as well as interpretation with the leadership of the Gaza syndicate branch (European Union, Gaza Office). Moreover, the Jerusalem Delegation is currently holding 15 flak jackets to be distributed to Palestinian media at a later date.

All participants received a copy of the IFJ International Code for the Safe Conduct of Journalism translated into Arabic. Instruction was in English with translation into Arabic.

Each One Day Surviving Hostile Regions Awareness Course consisted of the following:

Target Awareness - methods of how to avoid becoming a target in a volatile and dangerous environment. To raise awareness of why people become targets and how to reduce the risk of becoming a target.

Personal Security - how to minimise risks at home, at the office, (secure locks, door hinges, windows and walls), en route to and from work, in a car, during field assignments and when covering military operations. -- Gives practical advice on how to protect oneself in a variety of situations. To make journalists aware of the steps that they can take to give themselves added protection.

Medical - Correct approach to giving medical aid in a hostile environment. Assess the situation. -- Remove casualty from danger then give medical aid. Three main components covered in the course include airway management, control of bleeding, and CPR (cardio pulmonary resuscitation). Medical kits were supposed to be distributed and used throughout lecture, but were impounded by Israeli airport authorities.

Public disorder and riots - Investigates the causes of riots and how different security forces deal with them. Analyses the dangers involved for journalists covering riot situations. Advise on methods for reducing the risk involved in reporting a riot / civil disorder situation and give practical advice on improvised protection.

All journalists taking part in the course were active participants and remained focused on all aspects of the course. There was a very good contact with the AKE instructor. They took extensive notes and asked relevant questions. Some offered comparisons to real life situations.

The instructor showed tremendous flexibility and commented and advised on all real life situations offered by participants throughout the course. The participants were enthusiastic, took numerous notes, asked pertinent questions and showed their appreciation.

Comments

General complaints from participants centred around restrictions on movement, sentiments of isolation and a lack of solidarity from the international community. In addition, equipment, particularly bullet-proof vests, and training of any kind are sorely needed. Some participants also expressed, in private, the need for counselling over post traumatic stress disorders.

The Palestinian Territories will be a dangerous work environment for journalists for sometime to come. One of the central concerns expressed by the participants concerning their safety and expressed throughout the course focused on their identity and the difficulties they face because the Israeli army refuse to recognise them as professional journalists, instead they are identified only as being Palestinian, and therefore a security risk.

Brussels March 2002