A mission of the International Federation of
Journalists (IFJ) started yesterday a four-day visit to the Occupied
Palestinian Territories at the invitation of its affiliate, the Palestinian
Journalists' Syndicate (PJS).
As well as meeting the newly elected leadership of the
PJS, the aim of the mission, says the IFJ, is to investigate the continuing
consequences of the Israeli occupation and the blockade of Gaza and East
Jerusalem on the work of all journalists and media workers and its impact on
their safety and identify actions to ameliorate the problems of freedom of
movement of journalists in the region.
On its first day, the mission met PJS officials
and their new leadership at their headquarters in Ramallah to discus safety of
journalists, and the action needed to improve their freedom of movement.
"It is unacceptable to the world community of
journalists that Israeli soldiers continue to attack Palestinian journalists in
total impunity," said IFJ President Jim Boumelha. "The PJS has monitored 60
cases of attacks in the last three months. This is getting out of control and
must stop immediately. As the occupying power, Israeli civilian and military authorities
must discipline and prosecute soldiers who are guilty of violence against
The mission heard cases of the immense obstacles
to freedom of movement that Palestinian journalists continue to face daily
while doing their job. Earlier in the day, the PJS and IFJ made statements
condemning Israel's decision to ban Younes M'Jahed, IFJ senior vice president
and president of the Moroccan Press Union, from entering the Occupied
Palestinian Territories to participate in the work of the IFJ mission.
"The ban on the IFJ senior vice-president is
testimony of the serious hurdles that journalists face daily in moving around
chasing up their stories," said Boumelha. "The IFJ is ready to relaunch its
campaign on freedom of movement to impress on the Israeli authorities of the
necessity to guarantee that journalists are able to move freely to do they work
and recognise the IFJ press card."
On its second day, members of the mission travelled
to Nablus to meet Palestinian journalists working in the growing number of
radio and TV stations which constitute the city's vibrant media. The mission
heard details of the challenges they face, including their difficulties in
protecting their transmitters and frequency constantly under threat from Israeli
authorities as well as the exorbitant licensing tax demands by the Palestinian
authorities. A vigorous campaign by the PJS has succeeded in the cancelling of
the debts and setting up of fairer licence fees.
"We were pleased to see the extraordinary
progress made by the new leadership of the union in their first six months,
including their preparations to strengthen their union as the authoritative
voice of journalists in Palestine," said Boumelha. "A great deal remains to be
done to improve the professional status and working conditions of Palestinian
journalists and confront the numerous threats and violations they continue to
The mission includes the IFJ President Jim Boumelha,
IFJ Executive members Franco Siddi (General Secretary of the Italian Federazione
Nazionale della Prensa Italiana) and Eva Stabell (Norwegian Norsk Journalistlag) and European Federation of Journalists
Steering Committee member Androula Georgiadou (Union of Cyprus Journalists) and
Monir Zaarour, IFJ Middle East and Arab World co-ordinator..
For more information, please contact Monir Zaarour on + 32 472 5876 90
The IFJ represents more than 600.000 members in 125 countries