Army chief orders commanders to ensure safety of journalists

New York, July 27, 2001–Responding to concerns repeatedly expressed by the Committee to Protect Journalists and other international press freedom groups, Israeli military authorities have ordered field commanders to protect journalists who cover street clashes in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Israeli Embassy spokesman Mark Regev informed CPJ via e-mail today that Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) chief of staff Lt. Gen. Shaul Mofaz had “reiterated the standing orders concerning the safeguarding of journalists and called upon the army’s commanders to strengthen the awareness of those orders throughout the ranks.”

Lieutenant General Mofaz issued these instructions during a July 26 meeting with senior commanders of the IDF General Staff.

“Lieutenant General Mofaz’s actions at the IDF’s most senior forum demonstrate the seriousness with which Israel treats the CPJ’s concerns,” the message said.

CPJ welcomes all efforts by Israeli authorities to convey the urgency of safeguarding journalists to IDF commanders and troops. We hope that Lieutenant General Mofaz’s statement will lead to a concrete improvement in the situation. We remain deeply concerned for the safety of journalists covering events in the West Bank and Gaza.

On June 20, CPJ released its latest research into cases of journalists wounded by Israeli gunfire while covering unrest in the West Bank and Gaza Strip since last September. [See At Risk: Covering the Intifada]

The research lists 15 journalists wounded by live rounds or rubber-coated steel bullets; CPJ has repeatedly voiced its fear that IDF forces may have deliberately targeted journalists in some of these cases. [Read CPJ’s findings and recommendations.]