New York, March 21, 2012–An Israeli soldier broke the camera of a Palestinian journalist on Friday as the photographer was covering an anti-settlement demonstration near Bethlehem, a city in the West Bank, according to news reports.
Musa al-Sha’er, a photographer for Agence France-Presse, was covering a protest in the town of Al-Ma’sara when soldiers began beating and arresting protesters with batons, news reports said. As al-Sha’er began to take pictures, a soldier approached him with a baton and smashed his camera lens, the journalist told CPJ.
“Obstructing journalists is a crude form of censorship,” said Mohamed Abdel Dayem, CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa program coordinator. “Israeli authorities should send a clear message that soldiers are not allowed to break journalists’ equipment.”
Journalists have been obstructed from covering the weekly protests on the expansion of Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, CPJ research shows. In January, CPJ wrote a letter to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, expressing alarm over the deterioration of press freedom in Israel, which included attacks on four journalists covering similar anti-settlement demonstrations.