CPJ Urges Israel to Investigate Shooting Death of Journalist, Other Attacks

New York, March 18, 2002—The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) today called on Israel to provide a full accounting of a series of incidents in which a journalist was killed and several others were shot at during the Israel Defense Forces’ (IDF) large-scale military operation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip last week.

“The attempts now under way to achieve a cease-fire provide an opportune time for the Israeli authorities to investigate incidents that left one journalist dead and put several others in life-threatening situations,” said CPJ executive director Ann Cooper. “Covering conflict is an inherently dangerous business, but the IDF must exercise maximum restraint to avoid further harm to journalists reporting on this important news story.”

The call comes five days after the tragic death of Italian photojournalist Raffaele Ciriello, who was killed by Israeli gunfire in the West Bank city of Ramallah. That same day, the central Ramallah offices of the Qatar-based satellite network, Al-Jazeera, came under Israeli fire.

The office was hit by Israeli machine gun fire shortly after Al-Jazeera correspondents finished an interview with Palestinian information minister Yasser Abed Rabbo. The gunfire came from a tank stationed about 100 meters (111 yards) beyond the office and struck a window from which a second staff cameraman was filming Israeli-Palestinian clashes some 300 meters (333 yards) away.

One round narrowly missed the cameraman’s head. Others in the office, including Minister Abed Rabbo, ducked for cover, Al-Jazeera sources said.

In a separate development Wednesday, The Associated Press (AP) reported that some 20 Israeli soldiers searched the building housing the AP’s Ramallah office. The AP said that soldiers searched the office and then took positions on a higher floor, where they attracted Palestinian fire.

That next day, Thursday, March 14, an armored press vehicle belonging to the AP came under fire from Palestinian gunmen. The vehicle’s tires were punctured in the attack.

In other incidents last week, an Egyptian reporter was injured by gunfire in central Ramallah on Wednesday.

“All sides to this conflict must respect the right of journalists to cover news events without interference,” Cooper said.

Today CPJ is releasing a documented chronology of attacks on journalists and other press freedom violations in the Occupied Territories and the Palestinian Authority Territories since the Palestinian uprising began in September 2000.