Israeli soldiers attack four journalists in the West Bank

A group of Palestinian journalists were assaulted on January 28, 2010, while reporting on olive tree planting in Burin village, south of Nablus in the West Bank. According to the Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA), Israeli forces assaulted Rami Swidan, a photographer for Ma’an News Agency; Ashraf Abu Shawish, a cameraman for Palmedia, and Reuters photographers Abdel Rahim al-Qusini and Hassan Titi.

According to Swidan, Israeli soldiers told the journalists they were not allowed to take pictures because the area was a closed military zone. When the journalists refused to stop, soldiers hit them and attempted to take their cameras before throwing teargas canisters and stun grenades, Swidan said.

In a statement, Nablus Deputy Governor Anan al-Atira, who had been at the tree planting, called the violence “brutal and baseless.” She added that the area in question is under full Palestinian control and that the Israeli army has no right to be there.

CPJ contacted the Israel Defense Forces Spokesperson’s Unit at the North American Desk but did not receive a response.

Burin village is close to Yitzhar, a Jewish settlement in the West Bank. In the past, Israeli settlers have repeatedly cut down or burned trees owned by Burin farmers. In November, al-Qusini and Agence France-Press photographer Arif Tufaha were also attacked by Israeli forces while covering clashes between settlers and Burin’s residents, according to MADA.