TV crews hit by rubber bullets

New York, July 20, 2006—The Committee to Protect Journalists is deeply concerned that members of two Arab television crews were wounded by rubber bullets during an Israeli army operation in the West Bank city of Nablus on Wednesday.

Wael Tanous, a satellite technician with the Qatar-based channel Al-Jazeera, was hit in the left leg while standing near his uplink vehicle on a main road in Nablus around noon, Al-Jazeera reporter Guevara al-Budeiri told CPJ. She said Tanous, like all crew members, was wearing a vest labeled “TV.”

Walid al-Omary, Jerusalem-based bureau chief of Al-Jazeera, told CPJ, “It was clear when they shot him that they knew he was press.” Tanous was treated at a local hospital.
Al-Budeiri said that before the shooting an Israeli army jeep had sped toward her and stopped only inches from her leg as she was preparing to broadcast live.

About 50 Israeli armored vehicles, including tanks and bulldozers, rolled into Nablus yesterday, and destroyed a Palestinian security compound and several other government buildings. Four Palestinians were killed in clashes with the army and 150 Palestinian policemen were detained for questioning, The Associated Press reported.

Later Wednesday afternoon, Faten Elwan, a correspondent for U.S.-funded Arabic television station Al-Hurra, was hit in the torso and left hand by rubber bullets, according to al-Budeiri, who witnessed the incident. She said Elwan was standing at what she considered a safe distance from the fighting at the time. Elwan was treated at a local hospital and returned to work.

An Israeli military spokeswoman told CPJ that the army was aware of the incidents but said “it is very hard to check” because no formal complaints had been filed.

“We are troubled by the shooting of our colleagues in Nablus,” CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon said. “The Israeli military must investigate both these incidents immediately and determine whether soldiers acted with deliberate intent.”