New York, April 9, 2002—A journalist was shot today and several others were harassed while covering the ongoing Israeli offensive in the West Bank.
Gilles Jaquier, a cameraman with television channel France 2, was wounded by a single gunshot near his shoulder while reporting outside the West Bank city of Nablus, an eyewitness told CPJ.
Jaquier, who was wearing a bulletproof vest, was transported to a Jerusalem hospital after having the bullet removed at a hospital in Nablus. It is unclear who fired the shot, but the witness said the area was quiet at the time of the shooting.
Despite recent withdrawals from some West Bank towns, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) have continued to intimidate media organizations in order to prevent them from covering the conflict.
The Associated Press reported today that TV Tokyo reporter Yuzuru Saito was threatened in Bethlehem by Israeli forces, who confiscated a tape from his cameraman. IDF troops also confiscated a tape from French cameraman Vincent Benhamou. He told the AP that after he turned to walk away from the soldiers, he heard two shots fired in the air.
On April 8, several Israeli soldiers raided a building in Ramallah housing Egyptian television channel Nile TV and United Arab Emirates channel Abu Dhabi TV. A witness reported that troops forced the journalists in the office to lie on the ground and knocked Nile TV cameraman Raed al-Helw to the ground.
Soldiers dismantled journalists’ cell phones and threw the parts around the room. They also fired live rounds at a locked office door to gain access to the room, according to the same witness. After 45 minutes, the soldiers left and searched the rest of the building, which houses several other foreign television stations.
“The intimidation and violence against the media must stop,” said CPJ executive director Ann Cooper. “These attacks have gravely damaged Israel’s standing as a country that respects press freedom.”
Attacks against Palestinian media
While most media attention has focused on attacks against the foreign press, IDF forces have also taken action against local Palestinian media outlets.
According to CPJ sources, Ashraf Faraj and Jalal Ehmad, respectively an editor and a cameraman with the private, Bethlehem-based television station Al-Roa, have been in Israeli custody since April 3. Several other journalists detained with them in downtown Bethlehem have been released. The group had set up a makeshift media center in Manger Square to cover events unfolding in the town. Troops confiscated cameras, tapes, and other equipment.
Faraj and Ehmad are being held at a facility near Beitunia in the West Bank, according to CPJ sources.
Meanwhile, Maher Rumani, a news presenter for the Ramallah-based Al-Manara radio station, was detained by Israeli forces on or about April 3 and has not been heard from since, according to station staff.
CPJ sources report that most local Palestinian radio and television stations in the West Bank remain off the air or unable to resume normal broadcasting because Israeli troops have occupied their offices or destroyed their equipment. Some staff also been unable to go to work because of restrictions on their movement.
IDF troops have been occupying the offices of Al-Quds Educational TV, near Ramallah, since April 2. Station staff have been unable to enter the facility since then.