The world's largest journalists' group, the International Federation of Journalists, today appealed to Palestinian journalists in Gaza to withdraw a ban on news photographers from taking pictures of Palestinian children carrying weapons or taking part in activities by militant groups.
"We understand the deep frustration that journalists feel about those who try to manipulate the media message," said Aidan White, the IFJ General Secretary, "but journalists need more freedom to do their job in Palestine, not less."
The IFJ welcomed the call by the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate in Gaza for Palestinian factions and their military wings to stop using children in their activities. "That is where the problem of violations of children's rights exist, not with journalists who are only doing their job," said Aidan White. "We hope our colleagues will think again about this directive. It will not help solve the professional crisis facing journalists in Palestine."
Children carrying weapons or dressed up as suicide bombers have been frequently seen at rallies in the West Bank and Gaza. Israel says Palestinians use children to publicise their cause, while Palestinians counter that Israeli soldiers shoot directly at children during disturbances.
The IFJ has written to Tawfik Abu Khousa, head of the journalists Syndicate in Gaza and deputy chairman of the syndicate in Palestine, expressing concern over the directive to journalists.
"The question of the safety and professional standing of Palestinian journalists is our first concern," says the IFJ which carried out a mission to Gaza and the West Bank in June this year and which has called for a new Palestinian/Israeli initiative to jointly issue press cards. "This directive is not helpful."