Two journalists assaulted

New York, May 22, 2003—Two Palestinian journalists were recently brutally assaulted by Israeli soldiers after leaving a party in the West Bank city of Bethlehem.

In the early morning hours of Tuesday, May 20, Shaaban Qandil, a cameraman with the Arabic News Network, and Joseph Handal, a cameraman with France 2, had just left Handal’s residence in Bethlehem a little after midnight when several Israeli troops in jeeps stopped Handal’s car.

Handal told CPJ that his car is marked “TV,” and that the two were doing nothing illegal or suspicious. He added that there were no clashes in the vicinity at the time.

Handal said that two of the Israeli soldiers ordered him to exit the car. He complied but alerted the soldiers that he is a journalist. Handal said that within moments, after almost no discussion, the soldiers began to beat him and he fell to the ground. He said that the beating continued, and that he was repeatedly kicked.

Qandil told CPJ that right before Handal had exited the car, he gave Qandil his mobile phone. Qandil said that when some of the soldiers noticed he was about to make a call as Handal was being beaten, he was pulled out of the car and beaten as well.

Both journalists sustained fractures to their right hands. Friends took them to a local hospital for treatment soon after the Israeli soldiers left the area.