Ministry of Defense
H.E. Saul Mofaz
Tel Aviv, Israel
Via Fax: +972 3 696 2757
Via Email: email@example.com
Cc: Commissioner Moshe Karadi,
Inspector General of the Israel Police,
National Police Headquarters
Haim Bar Lev Road,
Via Fax: +972 2 5308118
Cc: Israeli Embassy Belgium
Via Fax : +32 2 373 5677
Brussels, 24 February 2005
On behalf of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), the world’s largest organisation of journalists, representing more than 500,000 journalists around the globe, I am writing to express our deep concern over attacks on journalists and media staff in the recent weeks and months. The IFJ is calling on you to investigate thoroughly all of these incidents, to identify those responsible and to take every action needed to create as safe an environment as possible for our colleagues working in the field.
There are two incidents that are particularly worrying and which require your attention. The first occurred on 3 October last year, when a crew of IBA-TV News was attacked by a security guard employed by your Ministry while covering a demonstration in front of the Ministry of Defence in Tel Aviv. The guards responsible were wearing civilian clothes and tried to expel the crew who were finishing filming on a site regularly used by TV crews for such events.
In this incident we are informed that Yaacov Buqa’I, a media staffer for IBA-TV was forcefully thrown to the ground forcefully and his colleague Eyal Vermus, a soundman for the station, was hit in his face and had to be treated in hospital. The initial phase of this event was filmed by Shlomo Levi, a cameraman for the station.
The crew filed a complaint, number 115846-2004, with the Yarkon Police HQ in Tel Aviv, later that evening at 22.00 hours local time. This was dealt with by policeman Shlomo Shayovich, whose identity number is 1036136.
Although a spokesman for your Ministry did apologise on Israeli TV as did the guard and duty chief from the National Police Headquarters, since the event took place the Israeli Police has not investigated the matter any further. No formal charges have been brought against the guard in question.
The second incident occurred just over three weeks ago and was a similar incident in which a guard pointed a loaded gun at a group of journalists while they were taking photographs at the same public site.
The IFJ believes that these actions are absolutely unacceptable and we urge the Ministry of Defence to investigate these matters and to punish those responsible for these attacks. I am sure that you agree, given the enormous concern within the international community about the rising rate of attacks against media staff world-wide, that everything should be done to ensure that our colleagues are able to work without fear of intimidation or violence.
The IFJ believes that democratic states like Israel have a special responsibility to demonstrate that they are able to exercise discipline and restraint among their own personnel and that they will take appropriate action when undue pressure or any form of violent intimidation is used against media professionals carrying out their duty.
This is a moral, legal and ethical obligation that is key to democratic rule and respect for human rights, particularly freedom of expression and the rights of people working for the media.
I shall be travelling to Israel in April as the head of an IFJ delegation to Israel in April to meet with Israeli colleagues. During this time I would be very grateful for an opportunity to meet with you and your officials to discuss these cases and to examine some of the wider problems facing journalists working in the region.