Soldiers assault photographers

New York, January 24, 2003—The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is alarmed by the assault earlier this week on two Palestinian photographers by Israeli border police in the West Bank city of Nablus.

On Monday, January 21, The Associated Press’ Nasser Ishtayeh and Jaafar Ishtayeh, with Agence France-Presse (AFP), were preparing to photograph an Israeli jeep that was manned by Israeli border police. (The two journalists are related.) Nasser said that he and Jaafar were attempting to photograph two Palestinian youths, who were on the hood of the moving jeep and who the journalists believed were being used as human shields as the troops advanced on Palestinian’s throwing stones. Before the journalists could begin taking photos, the jeep sped toward them and three of the four soldiers in the jeep got out and approached them. Nasser told CPJ that the soldiers immediately began punching and verbally insulting them.

Nasser and Jaafar said that their clothing and camera equipment were clearly marked “press.” After the incident, they were dragged a few meters by their camera straps to the driver of the jeep, who had remained in the car when the beating occurred. The driver inspected the cameras, which because they were digital allowed him to view recent images to ensure that no photographs had been taken of the jeep and the border police. He then threatened the journalists and told them that if he saw any of their pictures in the newspaper that he would kill them. Nasser suffered light wounds on his face and Jaafar was injured slightly on his hand.

“We are outraged at that violence was used to prevent two photographers from doing their job,” said CPJ acting director Joel Simon. “We call on the Israeli government to launch an immediate investigation into this incident and punish those responsible.”