Middle East and North Africa cases 2003: Country List    I   Middle East and North Africa Regional Home Page
How CPJ investigates and classifies attacks on the press

JANUARY 6, 2003

Saifeddin Shahin, Al-Jazeera

Shahin, Gaza correspondent for the Qatar-based satellite channel Al-Jazeera, was detained early in the morning at his Gaza office, several hours after Al-Jazeera's evening news bulletin from Doha, Qatar, aired the night before. During the show, a news anchor conducted a telephone interview with a man claiming to be a member of the Al-Aksa Martyrs Brigade who said the group was responsible for the January 5 twin suicide bombings in Tel Aviv, which killed 23. The caller also criticized the Palestinian National Authority.

Security forces detained Shahin and questioned him about the interview, said sources. He was released that evening.

JANUARY 21, 2003

Nasser Ishtayeh, The Associated Press
Jaafar Ishtayeh, Agence France-Presse

Nasser Ishtayeh, a photographer with The Associated Press, and Jaafar Ishtayeh, a photographer with Agence France-Presse, were attacked in the afternoon by Israeli border police after trying to photograph their jeep. (The two journalists are related.)

Nasser Ishtayeh said that he and Jaafar Ishtayeh were trying to photograph two Palestinian youths who were on the hood of the moving jeep and who the journalists believed were being used as human shields as the troops advanced on Palestinians throwing stones in the area. Before the journalists could begin taking photos, the jeep sped toward them, stopped, and three of the four soldiers in the vehicle exited and approached them. Nasser Ishtayeh told CPJ that the soldiers immediately began punching and verbally insulting them. Both journalists said that their clothing and camera equipment were clearly marked "Press."

After the incident, they were dragged a few yards by their camera straps to the jeep's driver, who had remained in the car while the beatings occurred. The driver inspected the cameras, which, because they were digital, allowed him to view recent images. He then threatened the journalists and told them that if he saw any of their pictures in the newspaper, he would kill them. Nasser Ishtayeh suffered light wounds on his face, and Jaafar Ishtayeh was injured slightly on his hand.

MARCH 6, 2003

Shams Odeh, Reuters
Ahmad Jadallah, Reuters

Odeh, a cameraman for Reuters news agency, and Jadallah, a photographer for Reuters, were injured in Gaza during an Israeli army raid on the Jabalya refugee camp. Reuters Jerusalem bureau chief Tim Heritage told CPJ that Odeh and Jadallah were both injured by shrapnel from an explosion in the camp.

The events surrounding the explosion, which killed eight Palestinians, are in dispute. According to press reports citing Palestinian witnesses, Israeli troops were leaving the camp at the end of the raid when an Israeli tank fired two rounds. The first round set a building on fire, and crowds of people poured into the streets to watch firefighters douse the blaze. The journalists, who were among the people in the street, were covering the aftermath of the raid. Witnesses claim that the tank's second round was fired at the group who had gathered, injuring the two journalists. The Israeli army said that soldiers had seen someone preparing to launch a rocket at the tank, and that they had fired in self-defense.

Both of Jadallah's legs were broken, and one artery in his leg was severed after being hit by shrapnel. He underwent surgery in a Gaza hospital before being moved to an Israeli hospital in Jerusalem. Odeh suffered moderate injuries to his foot. He underwent surgery in Gaza.

APRIL 19, 2003

Nazih Darwazeh, The Associated Press Television News

Darwazeh, a cameraman for The Associated Press Television News (APTN), was shot and killed by Israeli forces in the West Bank city of Nablus while filming clashes between Palestinian youths and Israeli troops at around 9 a.m., according to Palestinian journalists who witnessed the incident. Video footage of the incident, reviewed by CPJ, appears to corroborate their accounts.

The shooting occurred after clashes erupted in Nablus when Israeli forces entered the city's downtown area in tanks, searching for an alleged Palestinian suicide bomber. Clashes broke out in several locations near the city's center, involving youths throwing stones and Molotov cocktails at Israeli troops. Some Palestinians were also observed firing guns, according to press accounts.

Darwazeh had been filming an Israeli tank stranded at the corner of an alleyway. He and several other Palestinian journalists were standing by a door in the alleyway. A few minutes before Darwazeh was killed, Reuters cameraman Hassan Titi filmed a group of Palestinian youths running down the alley away from the stranded tank. Titi and Reuters photographer Abed Qusini, who were standing near Darwazeh, said that an Israeli soldier took a position near the tank and fired a single shot at the journalists from a distance of about 11 to 22 yards (10 to 20 meters). The shot shattered Darwazeh's camera, entering his head above the eye. He was killed instantly.

Titi and Qusini said there were no clashes or gunfire in the alley at the time. The AP reported that gunfire may have struck near the tank at around the same time, but that it likely came from a different direction from where Darwazeh was standing.

Maj. Sharon Feingold, a spokeswoman for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), was quoted by the AP as saying that Israeli troops had been rescuing the stranded tank when they were attacked with stones, and "explosive devices and shots were fired from the crowd." Despite eyewitness accounts and video footage, the IDF said that it was unclear who fired the shot that killed Darwazeh.

Darwazeh and his colleagues were clearly identified as members of the press, based on the testimony of those at the scene and the video footage of the events. In fact, Darwazeh was wearing a fluorescent jacket marked "Press," and before the shooting, the journalists said they shouted loudly in both English and Hebrew indicating that they were with the media.

MAY 2, 2003

James Miller, freelance

Miller, a British freelance journalist, was fatally shot in the Gaza Strip. An award-winning documentary filmmaker, the journalist was with a crew in the southern Gaza town of Rafah, near the Egyptian border, filming an HBO documentary on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. That evening, he and his four-person crew were in a Palestinian home filming the army's demolition of houses in the area that the Israeli army alleged contained tunnels used to smuggle arms.

Tamer Zeyara, a cameraman with The Associated Press Television News (APTN) who was filming in the same house, told CPJ that at about 11:30 p.m., the group decided to leave. As they were leaving, Miller, his producer Saira Shah, and translator Abdul Rahman Abdullah attempted to identify themselves to the Israeli troops in the area, who were in armored personnel carriers. Zeyara told CPJ that the Israeli troops were about 495 feet (150 meters) away from the house where they had been filming, but that he was unsure how close the journalists went to the troops once they left.

Zeyara said all the journalists were wearing jackets marked "TV," as well as helmets, and that Abdullah waved a white flag while Miller used a flashlight to illuminate their marked jackets and the flag. As they approached the soldiers, the journalists shouted in English and Arabic that they were members of the media. The troops then fired three shots in their direction, Zeyara said, followed by a burst of gunfire. Miller was hit once in the neck. (The crew members working with Miller have declined to speak with CPJ pending their own private investigation into the incident.)

The Associated Press wrote that APTN footage of the incident "showed the crew waving a white flag and yelling that they were British journalists as they approached an armored bulldozer conducting the operation."

The Israeli army was quoted as saying that troops in the area returned fire after being fired on by rocket-propelled grenades. Zeyara denied there was any fire in the area at the time. On Sunday, the army said that Miller was struck by a bullet from behind, claiming that he may have been hit by Palestinian fire, but Zeyara dismissed this allegation.