Journalists under fire in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory

Multiple journalists have been assaulted, threatened, and censored in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory in recent months. 

Israeli security forces on March 16, 2014, detained Fedaa Nasr, a correspondent for Palestine Today TV, for several hours and interrogated her, the reports said. Nasr had been reporting on the Jewish celebration Purim in Hebron when she was accosted by a group of Jewish settlers, according to news reports. The settlers, in turn, accused Nasr of assaulting them. Hebron, located in the West Bank, is often the scene of contentious clashes between Palestinian residents and Jewish settlers.

On March 16, 2014, the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) news agency WAFA announced that it was calling off an investigation into Jaffar Sadaqa, one of its journalists. On February 11, 2014, Sadaqa wrote an article in which he alleged that the true budget deficit was larger than that suggested by the Ministry of Finance and cited leaked documents. Finance Minister Shukri Bishara said the report was “full of inaccurate information and erroneous analysis.”

WAFA denied that the investigation originated from the minister’s complaint and dropped the investigation after facing significant pressure by Palestinian journalists, who organized protests in support of Sadaqa. 

On March 11, 2014, several journalists were prevented from covering protests and clashes in the region. Freelance journalist Mustafa Bader told CPJ that he and several other journalists were covering clashes in Bethlehem when an Israeli soldier fired a live round in their direction. A second journalist, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of reprisal, told CPJ the soldier was sending a clear warning to the journalists when he fired at the large garbage bin behind which the journalists were standing.

On the same day, in Jerusalem, Israeli security forces assaulted two journalists filming a protest near Damascus Gate, according to The Associated Press and the Foreign Press Association. The reports said an AP photographer was punched in the face and suffered a bloody nose. A Reuters cameraman was also hit by a rubber bullet and had his camera smashed by a police officer. The reports did not name the journalists.

On March 7, 2014, a Palestinian photographer working for Agence France-Presse was assaulted by settlers while heading to cover Palestinian protests in a refugee camp north of Ramallah, news reports said. According to the reports, Israeli security forces stood by as the settlers threw rocks at Abbas Momani, cracking his car’s windshield and causing light injuries to his hands and face. Momani said he would file a complaint with the police against his assailants. The French Foreign Ministry released a statement after the attack, calling on the Israeli government to “prosecute those responsible.”

Anatolia photographer Maath Misha’al and freelance photographer Abdalkarim Museitef were also assaulted by the settlers while they were filming the protests, according to the Palestinian press freedom group MADA. Misha’al told MADA that the settlers beat him and pointed a gun at him before the Israeli army moved the settlers away. A photograph taken at the time shows four settlers running, three of them armed with handguns. Misha’al also told MADA that the Israeli police called him and asked for a copy of his footage to help hold the assailants accountable.

On February 28, 2014, a group of journalists covering clashes in East Jerusalem were confronted by Israeli security officers in plainclothes. A picture captured by AFP’s Ahmed Gharabli shows the officer pointing his handgun directly at the journalist from only meters away as other journalists photographed the scene. A Reuters photographer also captured the same scene from the opposite angle, showing several journalists, including Gharabli, simultaneously taking pictures and cowering before the security agent.