New York, June 29, 2001—A free-lance cameraman working with the Associated Press Television News (APTN) in the West Bank city of Hebron came under heavy machine gun fire while riding in his car on Tuesday, the Committee to Protect Journalists has learned.

At around dusk on June 26, Hazem Bader, a veteran Hebron-based cameraman who strings for the APTN, was driving home from an assignment when his car came under attack in the Palestinian-controlled Bab al-Zawiyah section of the city. Bader said the fire came from an Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) outpost near the Jewish settlement of Tel Rumeida, about 500 meters away.

The first burst hit a wall just a few meters from his car, causing him to exit the vehicle and take cover. It was followed ten seconds later by a second burst, Bader said, which struck a nearby streetlight. A few minutes later, five or six machine gun rounds were fired directly at his car—three of which struck the vehicle.

Bader told CPJ that the street where the attack occurred was empty and peaceful. “It was an open and clear area,” Bader said. “No one was moving in the area.” He added that his car was plastered with Arabic, Hebrew, and English stickers that clearly identified it as a press vehicle.

“While we continue to investigate this case, our preliminary conclusion is that whoever fired on Bader did so deliberately,” said CPJ executive director Ann Cooper. “We have repeatedly conveyed to Israeli authorities our deep concern about cases of journalists shot while working in Gaza and the West Bank, and yet these incidents continue to occur.”

Since the beginning of the current unrest last September, CPJ has documented 15 cases in which journalists were hit by gunfire from Israeli positions. On June 11, a CPJ delegation met with Israeli ambassador to the United States David Ivry to express its deep concern about these incidents and present him with detailed documentation about each case.

In a written response that was emailed to CPJ on June 19, Ambassador Ivry rejected “the implication that Israel deliberately targets journalists. On the contrary, the standing orders of the IDF explicitly prohibit such behavior. The IDF unequivocally takes disciplinary action against any soldier found in violation of this policy.”

IDF spokesman Olivier Rafowicz said he had no information about the Hazem Bader incident, but added that the IDF had received a letter of inquiry from the AP and was “looking into it.”