New York, October 5, 2000 — The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has confirmed that at least five journalists have been wounded covering violent clashes in Israel, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip. Three of the five cases involve journalists wounded by live ammunition or rubber-coated metal bullets fired by Israeli forces.
CPJ is currently investigating three other reported attacks.
The clashes, which began last week following Likud party leader Ariel Sharon’s controversial visit to the shrine known as Temple Mount to Jews and the Noble Sanctuary (Haram as-Sharif) to Muslims, have already left 66 people dead and more than 1,800 wounded. CPJ is deeply concerned about at least two incidents in which journalists claim they were deliberately targeted.
“It is the professional duty of journalists to report on these events, and the use of violence to impede their work constitutes a grave violation of press freedom,” said CPJ Middle East program coordinator Joel Campagna. “We call on Israeli authorities to investigate these attacks to determine if they were in fact carried out with the intention of inhibiting the work of the press.”
Cases documented by CPJ include:
Hazem Bader, Associated Press (September 29, 2000)
Bader, a cameraman with The Associated Press, was wounded in his right hand by a rubber-coated metal bullet fired by an Israeli sniper while filming clashes at al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. He was taken to hospital for treatment and is recovering.
Khaled Abu Aker, France 2 , The New York Times(September 29, 2000)
Abu Aker, a correspondent with the French television station France 2 and the West Bank stringer for The New York Times, was beaten by Israeli police at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque, the scene of recent clashes. The attack occurred after Abu Aker refused to comply with a police officer who demanded that the journalist hand over a rubber bullet that he had picked up off the ground. Abu Aker’s shirt was ripped and his eyeglasses broken in the ensuing melee, which another officer joined.
Amer Jaabari, ABC News (October 1, 2000)
Jaabari, a Hebron-based cameraman for ABC News, was wounded in the head by an unidentified object, thought to be a rock thrown by a Palestinian demonstrator, or a rubber bullet. He was covering clashes between Palestinian demonstrators and Israeli troops in Hebron.
Mazen Dana, Reuters (October 2, 2000)
Dana, a Hebron-based cameraman who was covering clashes on Hebron’s Shallalah Street for Reuters, was hit in the left foot and leg by live ammunition fired by Israeli forces. He is in hospital recovering and will be out of action 10 days to two weeks. A day earlier, Dana was hit in the same leg by a rubber bullet. He told CPJ that he thought the attack may have been deliberate.
Loay Abu Haykel, Reuters (October 2, 2000)
Abu Haykel, a Reuters photojournalist, was hit in the leg by a rubber bullet while covering clashes between Palestinians and Israelis. His injury was described as not serious.
CPJ is currently investigating injuries to free-lance photographer Khaled Zighari of The Associated Press, free-lance photographer Mahfouz Abu-Turk, and Awad Awad, a photographer for Agence France Presse. All three were reportedly hit by bullets fired by Israeli forces.