IFJ Calls for End of Harassment of West Bank Journalists

The International Federation of Journalists, the world's largest journalists' organisation today protested over the detention of two Moroccan journalists by the Israeli military after they had interviewed Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat. "This unwarranted detention is another example of persistent harassment of journalists working in the West Bank," said Aidan White, General Secretary of the IFJ. "Interviewing Yasser Arafat is not a crime and Israeli intimidation will not stop journalists carrying out their work."

The journalists, Anas Ben Salah and Hassan Boucheni, both working for the second television station 2M in Morocco, were detained by the Israeli army in the West Bank town of Ramallah. They were released after six hours without an explanation.

This latest case follows the detention of at least seven Palestinian Journalists. Reuter's cameraman Jussry al-Jamal, a Palestinian, was jailed by Israeli authorities without charge, access to a lawyer or appearance before a court.

Hussam Abu Alan, Agence France-Presse (AFP) was detained on April 24, a Hebron-based photographer, was stopped with Mazen Dana of Reuters at the Beit Einun checkpoint north of Hebron when they tried to reach a nearby village to cover the funeral of Palestinian militants killed by Israeli forces. The soldiers detained the two journalists for about three hours and confiscated their cameras.

Two other Palestinian journalists were arrested by Israeli troops in Ramallah on or about April 18: Maher al-Dessouki, the host of a popular talk show on the Ramallah-based Al-Quds Educational TV; and Kamel Jbeil, a reporter with the Palestinian newspaper Al-Quds.

According to the Palestinian Journalists' Syndicate another three journalists were being held in detention: Abdel Razek Farraj, Ghassan Jarrar, and Ayman Al Kawasmeh, no details are known about their circumstances.