Palestine: IFJ warns of risk to media professionals after Israeli security forces disguised as journalists arrested university student leader

Palestinian demosntartors run amid the smoke during clashes with Israeli soldiers on March 12, 2018 in the West Bank town of Birzeit, near Ramallah, following a protest by students of the Birzeit University against the arrest of the the head of Palestinian student council by an Israeli undercover commando. © ABBAS MOMANI / AFP PHOTO

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today warned of heightened risk to journalists in the West Bank after Israeli the security forces disguised themselves as journalists to arrest Omar Kswani, a university student on 7 March. Kiswani is head of the student council at Birzeit university and is believed to have been arrested for his political affiliation to the Hamas group, which is banned under Israeli law. Video footage shows Kiswani being kicked and escorted by three men with one holding him in a headlock while others fire shots, endangering the well-being of all students and civilians. The scene happened in broad daylight during working hours. The IFJ today joined its affiliate, the Palestinian Journalists’ Union (PJS), in condemning the tactic used by the Israeli forces of disguised themselves as journalists which adds another layer of threats to work of journalists in the region. “We condemn this action and call on Israeli authorities to refrain from using journalism as a cover for its security forces that endangers the profession, constitutes a violation of freedom of the press and increases threats facing local and international journalists working in the area,” said IFJ General Secretary, Anthony Bellanger.

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