Palestine: Journalists attacked by security forces during demonstration

Several journalists have been attacked and their equipment damaged or confiscated by security forces as they were covering a demonstration in Ramallah, Palestine on 26/27 June. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) stands by its affiliate the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate (PJS) in condemning such unjustifiable attacks on the press and calling on the Palestinian authorities to ensure journalists' safety.

Ramallah, 26 June 2021. Credits: PJS

Several journalists, including a number of women, were attacked and their equipment confiscated as they were covering violent clashes between demonstrators calling for an independent investigation into the killing of activist Nizar Banat, a fierce critic of President Mahmoud Abbas, and the president's supporters.

Security forces wearing riot gear and others in plain clothes started firing tear gas and violently attacking journalists while confiscating or breaking their equipment.

According to media reports, journalist Shatha Hammad was hit in the face by a tear gas canister and her phone was broken. Journalist Najla Zeitoun from Quds News Network was violently beaten with a stick and pulled by her hair despite being identified as a journalist. Her phone was also confiscated. Al-Madina TV journalist Fayhaa Khanfar is still suffering from shoulder pain after she was attacked. Faten Alwan, a freelance journalist, was interrupted as she was reporting live while journalists Aziza Nofal and Jihad Barakat where threatened and prevented from covering the demonstrations.

Other journalists injured include Jihan Awad, Muhammad Ghafri, Karim Khamayseh and female journalist Saja Al-Alami.

The PJS issued a statement in which it strongly condemned the attacks on journalists, calling it "a new, grave development in the onslaught on freedom of expression and the media". The union also demanded immediate actions from Palestinian PM Mohammad Shtayyeh, who is also the minister of interior. Its demands include the sacking of the police chief for their failure to protect journalists when they were attacked by plain clothes security officers and to bring those responsible for attacking journalists to justice. Until then, the PJS has called on journalists and the media to boycott any coverage of PA president and government news.

IFJ General Secretary Anthony Bellanger said: "This seems like a concerted attack orchestrated to intimidate journalists and prevent them from reporting the truth. These deplorable events are happening just 2 days after the ILO convention on violence and harassment in the world of work enters into force, showing the urgency for States to ratify the Convention and ensure clear procedures are put in place to prevent attacks against any workers in the course of their duty. We demand a full investigation into these attacks and a concrete commitment from the Palestinian authorities to ensure journalist's safety and stand in solidarity with the PJS".

For more information, please contact IFJ on +32 2 235 22 16

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