A bulldozer clears the rubble along a street in the Jenin refugee camp on July 6, 2023, following a large-scale Israeli military operation that lasted for two days. (AFP/Zain Jaafar)

Israeli military destroys news equipment of Al-Araby TV crew covering Jenin operation

New York, July 6, 2023 — The Israel Defense Forces must investigate the July 3 attack that destroyed an Al-Araby TV crew’s equipment, make public its findings, and take immediate measures to ensure journalists’ safety, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Thursday.

On July 3, Al-Araby TV reporter Amid Shehadeh and camera operator Rabi Munir were covering an Israel Defense Forces operation against militants in the Jenin refugee camp in the occupied West Bank when an IDF vehicle shot at their equipment, destroying a transmitter and knocking a camera off a tripod, according to a statement posted to Twitter by Al-Araby TV, a Qatari broadcaster. 

The two journalists took shelter in a house a few feet away with two photographers from the Turkish state-run Anadolu Agency and a third from Ruptly, a Russian state-owned video news agency based in Germany, according to The New Arab, which did not identify those other journalists by name. The journalists remained trapped until they were escorted out of the house by the Red Cross and Red Crescent and evacuated by ambulance to a hospital, according to Al-Araby TV’s statement, which did not say whether the journalists sustained injuries. 

The IDF’s two-day operation, which killed 12 according to the United Nations, was the latest in a series of military incursions into the northern West Bank city of Jenin and its refugee camp after attacks by Palestinian militants. Last May, the Israeli military killed Palestinian American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh while she was covering a raid in Jenin. 

“The Israeli military’s destruction of Al-Araby TV’s news equipment while the broadcaster’s journalists hid in fear shows how the military has continued to imperil reporting on its actions,” said CPJ Program Director Carlos Martínez de la Serna. “The IDF must prevent troops from attacking journalists and their gear, investigate those responsible for this incident, and hold them to account.”

In video footage of the incident published by The New Arab, shots are heard and the crew’s transmitter is seen in flames.  

“This direct attack, recorded and documented by media outlets, reveals a blatant targeting of journalist crews and their equipment for no reason other than deliberately harming journalists, hindering their work, and disrupting their coverage. This action represents a clear violation of international human rights norms and standards that guarantee the safety of journalists,” said the Al-Araby TV statement. 

In a previous incident in Jenin, on June 19, Hazem Nasser, a camera operator for Jordan’s Al-Ghad TV, was hospitalized with serious injuries after he came under IDF fire while he was reporting on fighting between Israeli forces and militants, according to The Associated Press and a statement by the local Palestinian Journalists Syndicate. An AP journalist at the scene witnessed the military directly shoot at the journalist, who was clearly identified as press. 

The Israeli military told AP that it was “unaware of fire aimed at medics and journalists” and was looking into the incident.

In a separate incident on June 8, two photojournalists, Momen Somrain and Rabi al-Munir, were shot by IDF soldiers with rubber bullets while they were reporting on the demolition of a terrorism suspect’s house in the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah. 

CPJ emailed the IDF spokesperson for North American media but did not receive a reply. 

In May 2023, CPJ published “Deadly Pattern,” a report on the Israeli military’s killing of 20 journalists in 22 years – and how no one has been held accountable for those deaths.