Assassination of Journalist in Palestine Adds to Fears as Wave of Violence Against Media Grows

The International Federation of Journalists today condemned the shooting of a veteran journalist Khalil al-Zaben, who was also been an adviser to Yasser Arafat on human rights. The killing of al-Zaben early yesterday, by unknown gunmen in the Gaza Strip, was condemned by the Palestine Journalists Syndicate and follows a series of incidents in the area in which journalists have been the victims of renewed violence.

“The deterioration in the political situation has been matched by a new wave of violence against media staff,” said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. “It is completely unacceptable and must come to an end.”

In the past few weeks there have been numerous attacks on media. On 8 January a Gaza correspondent for the Arab satellite channel Al-Arabiya was beaten up by masked men; three weeks ago the newspaper reporter Munir Abu Rizeq had his car set on fire and destroyed; and early last month the offices of the Palestinian weekly Ad–Dar were ransacked by intruders.

The Palestine Journalists Syndicate organised a strike in protest on 9 February. Now the killing of al-Zaben, a prominent journalist and supporter of the Palestinian President, has added to fears of fresh attacks on the journalists’ community.

“Journalists are being targeted and that is completely unacceptable,” said White. “All groups should end this form of violence and intimidation. It makes a mockery of the struggle for liberation if the victims are professionals in the front line of the movement for human rights and democracy.”

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The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 100 countries