June 20, 2001 — CPJ today released its latest research into the cases of journalists wounded by Israeli gunfire while covering unrest in the West Bank and Gaza Strip since last September.
The research, which was presented last week to Israeli ambassador to the U.S. David Ivry by a six-person CPJ delegation, lists the cases of 15 journalists who were wounded by live rounds or rubber-coated steel bullets. During last week’s meeting, CPJ expressed its concern to the ambassador that in some of these cases, journalists may have been deliberately targeted. At the very least, Israel Defense Forces (IDF) acted recklessly by firing rounds that injured journalists.
“Unless the Israeli government takes immediate steps to put a stop to these incidents, it is only a matter of time before a journalist is killed,” CPJ board chairman Gene Roberts said after the June 11 meeting. In some of the cases documented by CPJ, journalists were shot in the legs or head, or even in the hand as it rested on the camera. In one case, a journalist’s camera lens was hit by a bullet. In another case, warning shots were fired at journalists with no justification.
The delegation expressed additional concern about the failure of Israeli authorities to seriously investigate cases in which journalists were injured. CPJ has repeatedly communicated its deep concern to Israeli authorities. But despite these requests, the IDF and the Israeli government have in all but a handful of cases failed to report the outcome of investigations into specific incidents or to adequately explain the circumstances of the shootings.
In a written response to CPJ’s research, Israel’s embassy in Washington stated that Ambassador Ivry “categorically rejects 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.” The statement added that the Ambassador “takes the concerns expressed by the Committee to Protect Journalists very seriously. The Government of Israel is committed not only to a free press but also to protecting the safety of journalists. Accordingly, Ambassador Ivry has sent a detailed report to the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem and to the Israel Defense Forces asking for their immediate attention to the specific incidents in the CPJ report, as well as to the matter as a whole.”
CPJ welcomes and awaits the responses of the Foreign Ministry and IDF.