Israeli forces harass journalists, bar them from covering clashes

New York, October 25, 2001—The Committee to Protect journalists is deeply troubled that Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) harassed journalists and barred them from covering clashes in the Palestinian village of Beit Rima on October 24.

Local sources told CPJ that IDF soldiers blocked all journalists from entering Beit Rima for the entire day. Journalists from the Associated Press, Reuters, and AFP tried to enter the town by car but were turned back by the soldiers.

They then attempted to enter the village through a back road, but Israeli soldiers again refused them entry. One journalist was told it was a “closed military area.”

The group returned to the village’s main checkpoint. They managed to drive through the military post but were pulled over soon after by a group of soldiers who told them to leave the village immediately.

When the group protested, a soldier hit one journalist’s camera lens, and Israeli soldiers shoved two other journalists. The convoy was then escorted out of the village by Israeli military cars.

“It is inexcusable for IDF forces to assault journalists,” said CPJ executive director Ann Cooper. “The Israeli army should allow journalists the access they need to do their jobs without intimidation or violence.”

Journalists were also barred later that day from the Israeli army post of Halmish, about 6 kilometers (3 miles) away from Beit Rima, where Israeli soldiers were giving the corpses of Palestinians killed in the clashes to the Red Crescent.