Saturday May 3 is the World Press Freedom Day, The Al Mezan Center For Human Rights issued a report highlighting the important role of the reporters and media institutions in serving human rights, democracy and countering corruption. In its report the center highlighted violations and attacks against reporters in the Palestinian territories.The Center stated that violations against reporters in 2007 and the first quarter of 2008, Israeli soldiers carried repeated attacks against reporters and media agencies in addition to attacks carried out by the Palestinian Authority or attacks carried by armed groups and political movements.
The Israeli attacks included limited or blocking the freedom of movement of the reporters, and targeting several reporters. One of the main violations was the killing of reporter Fadil Shana’a, a Reuters cameraman who was shot by the Israeli forces.
On May 16, Israeli soldiers shelled a Reuters vehicle and killed cameraman Fadel Shana’a. Reuters soundman Wafa Abu Mizyed was injured in the attack.
Palestinian violations against reporters included killing, wounding and attacking several reporters in addition to attacking dozens of media agencies. A total of 56 attacks were carried out leaving four dead and 27 wounded.
Armed groups also carried several attacks against reporters and media outlets; these attacks included abducting reporters. The attacks were also part of family feuds which led to attacking reporters in addition to attacks carried out as reporters were reporting n the political, armed conflict between Hamas and Fateh.
2007 was the peak of attacks against reporters and the freedom of press as armed clashes in Gaza affected reporters and media agencies. Gunmen surrounded dozens of reporters of local and international agencies in Ramattan Media Agency headquarters in Gaza and caused damage to several agencies. Some agencies had to stop working for several months after gunmen detonated their headquarters, broke into other headquarters and even stole equipment.
The Israeli attacks against reporters including killing, hitting, humiliating, denying entry, detention, interrogation, destroying and confiscating cameras and equipment, denying reporters the right of the freedom of movement, and shelling several media outlets.
The Center also said that the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank outlawed Palestine and Al Risala newspapers since July 14, 2007.
The Al Mezan Center said that all violations, the targeting of reporters and their institutions constitutes a direct violation to the International Law.
Israeli soldiers deliberately targeted reporters and civilians using night vision technologies although the reporters and their vehicles carried clear signs stating that they are Press.
Reporter Imad Ghanim,23, who works with the Al Aqsa Satellite News Station which belong to Hamas movement lost one of his legs in May this year when the Israeli army invading Al Maghazi and Al Boreij refugee camp in the Gaza Strip fired heavy rounds at the reporter. Ghanim and two other reporters were wounded.
The Al Mezan Center said that the Israeli violations are direct violations to the International Law and that Israel continues to limit and bar the freedom of movement of the Palestinian reporters in addition to targeting them and kidnapping them.
The Center also expressed deep concern over the Palestinian violations against reporters and the freedom of press as these attacks also violate the Palestinian law and the international law.
The Al Mezan Center demanded the International Community to intervene and ensure that all violations against reporters and media agencies are stopped.
Imad Al Khuffash, head of the Ahrar Center for Detainees Studies stated that six reporters are still imprisoned by Israel. He identified the six detained reporters as Sami Al Assy from Nablus, Waleed Khalid from Salfit (the Editor-in-chief of Palestine Newspaper), Tareq Abu Zeid, Mohammad Al Halaiqa, Jihad Daoud, and Nizar Ramadan (he is also a legislator).
All six reporters are imprisoned under administrative detention orders without charges or trial.
Al Khuffash said that all institutions that are working to ensure the freedom of press should highlight the suffering of Palestinian reporters as their arrest and continued detention violates the international law and the Fourth Geneva Conventions. .
More than five years ago, Israeli soldiers shot and killed James Miller, a British Cameraman. Miller, 24, was shot by the Israeli army as he was making a documentary film about the Palestinian children in the Rafah Refugee Camp, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip. He was carrying a white flag as he approached a military vehicle to ask if it is safe to leave the area, yet, soldiers opened fire and killed him.