Palestinians run from tear gas and sound grenades at a July 21, 2017, protest outside Jerusalem's old city. (Reuters/Ammar Awad)
Palestinians run from tear gas and sound grenades at a July 21, 2017, protest outside Jerusalem's old city. (Reuters/Ammar Awad)

Palestinian journalists injured covering West Bank protests

Beirut, July 25, 2017–Israeli authorities should independently and credibly investigate reports that Israeli security forces injured journalists covering protests in the West Bank last weekend, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. At least six Palestinian journalists were injured while covering protests in East Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and Hebron on July 20 and 21, according to news reports and the journalists’ employers.

Protests erupted in East Jerusalem and the West Bank in the evening of July 20 over Israeli security forces’ installation of metal detectors and turnstiles at the Al-Aqsa Mosque complex in Jerusalem, news reports said. At least three people have been killed in the protests. At least two other journalists were targeted by Israeli security officials on July 18.

“Journalists should be able to cover demonstrations and other events of significant public interest without fear of being attacked by the authorities,” CPJ Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator Sherif Mansour said from Washington D.C. “We call on Israeli officials to hold to account any security personnel who commit violence against journalists.”

Carsten Seibold, head of Reuters TV for Israel and the Palestinian Territories, told CPJ that Reuters cameraman Sinan Abu Maizer was filming clashes between Palestinian protesters and Israeli security forces around Lion’s Gate in Jerusalem on the evening of July 20 when an Israeli border police officer hit him with a baton on his head, Seibold said. The journalist was treated at a nearby hospital for a concussion and an open wound, Seibold told CPJ.

Abdulhakim Salah, head of the English desk of the Ma’an News Agency, told CPJ that Ma’an reporter Mirna Alatrash was hit in the face by a tear gas canister while covering a protest near an Israeli checkpoint in Bethlehem on July 21. Ma’an reporter Muhammad Lahham collapsed from tear gas inhalation at the same protest, Salah told CPJ. “Both of them are fine,” Salah said.

Shireen al-Khatib, of the press freedom group the Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedom (MADA), told CPJ that freelance photographer Rami al-Khatib was on his way to Lion’s Gate in Jerusalem on July 21 to cover the protests there when an Israeli police officer asked for his press card. When the photographer produced the card, the police officer insulted him, held his hand behind his back, and punched him in the chest in an effort to make him leave, MADA’s Al-Khatib said.

Afif Amira and Mashhour Wahwah, photographers for the official Palestinian Wafa News Agency, were injured while covering July 21 protests in Jerusalem and Hebron, respectively, according to news reports and their employer. Pictures posted on Wafa’s Facebook page show that Amira was injured in the chest, whereas Wahwah was injured in the foot. According to news reports, Amira was hit by a rubber-coated bullet, and Wahwah was hit by a sound bomb.

Israeli police did not immediately respond to CPJ’s email requesting comment.