Reporters Without Borders condemns the action of the Israeli security forces in deliberately firing rubber bullets and teargas at two Palestinian journalists during clashes between Palestinian protesters and Israeli soldiers in the West Bank city of Ramallah on 16 May.
The clashes broke out while the two journalists – Issam Al-Rimawi, a photographer for the newspaper Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, and freelance photographer Abdalkarim Al-Museitef – were covering a protest march accompanying the funeral of two Palestinian youths killed during the previous day’s commemoration of the 1948 Nakba (Catastrophe).
Rimawi’s left shoulder was injured by a rubber bullet while Museitef lost consciousness from the effects of the teargas. Both were taken to Ramallah regional hospital. Rimawi said on Facebook: “A commander ordered his men to deliberately fire in my direction. Press photographers were targeted during this demonstration.”
“This incident is unfortunately not isolated,” said Soazig Dollet, the head of the Reporters Without Borders Middle East and North Africa desk. “We are very concerned about the marked increase in the number of Palestinian journalists being deliberately targeted by the Israeli security forces."
“We reiterate our call to the Israeli authorities, especially the military, to respect the physical integrity of journalists covering demonstrations and we remind them that the United Nations Human Rights Council adopted a resolution on 28 March recognizing the importance of media coverage of protests and condemning any attacks or violence against the journalists covering them.”
The Palestinian Centre for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA) registered some 80 cases of media freedom violations by the Israeli security forces affecting Palestinian news providers during the first four months of this year, including more than 30 physical attacks.
In one recent case, Israeli soldiers fired teargas grenades at Abdul Hafiz Al-Hachlamoun while he was covering clashes between students and Israeli soldiers in the West Bank city of Hebron on 22 April. He was hospitalized with a muscle tear in the foot.
When Israeli police stormed the courtyard of the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem escorting ultraorthodox Jews on 20 April, five journalists who had gone to cover the event were among the dozen Palestinians injured.
Israeli security forces detained three employees of the Palestinian news agency Wafa – photographer Hudaifa Srour, reporter Yazan Taha and driver Fadi Kifaya – for two and a half hours when they went to cover a peaceful march in protest against the closure of the entrance to the village of Nabi Saleh on 14 April.
Israeli security forces detained six journalists for several hours near the West Bank city of Nablus, confiscating their identity documents, on 22 March. They included a Dubai TV crew – Mohamed Assayed, Mohamed Hassan and Rami Abdu – that was doing a report near the Zaatara checkpoint.
Freelance photographer Youssef Shakarna was attacked and beaten by four Israeli soldiers near the security barrier around Betar Illit, an Israeli settlement to the west of Bethlehem, on 15 February while preparing a report on the problems of Palestinians working in Israel. His camera was confiscated and he had to be hospitalized for his injuries.
The Palestine Journalists Syndicate and the Palestinian information ministry organized a demonstration three days later in protest against this and all the other cases of violence against Palestinian journalists.