Israeli soldiers last Thursday targeted journalists working for Jordan’s Ro’ya TV with teargas while they were covering a peaceful Palestinian demonstration near Jaba, a village north of Jerusalem.According to WAFA correspondence, the demonstration was held to mark the first anniversary of the death of Muhammad Abu Khdeir, a 16-year-old Palestinian who was burnt to death in a wood near West Jerusalem.
Ro’ya TV posted a video online showing Palestinian Territories bureau chief Nebal Farsakh and cameraman Mohamed Shousha being targeted although they were wearing bulletproof vests marked ‘Press.’ They were taken to a hospital with facial burns.
Alexandra El Khazen, the head of the Reporters without Borders Middle East and Maghreb desk said, “The Israeli security forces must respect the physical integrity of journalists who are just doing their job by covering demonstrations.”
“We remind them that the UN Human Rights Council adopted a resolution in March 2014 recognizing that journalists play an essential role by covering protests.”
The incident was not the first time Israeli forces target journalists in recent months. On May 17, Israeli police used force to prevent a crew with Russian TV station RT from filming during Jerusalem Day, which commemorates Israel’s conquest of East Jerusalem and the Old City during the 1967 War.
Although they had accreditation, RT reporter Dalia Nammari and cameraman Muhammad Aishuwere were manhandled and their camera was broken. They have filed a complaint.
Nidal Ashtiyeh, a Palestinian photojournalist working for the Chinese news agency Xinhua, was covering a Palestinian demonstration near Nablus on May 15 marking the 67th anniversary of the Nakba when he was badly injured in an eye by a rubber-coated bullet fired by an Israeli soldier. He has not yet recovered his sight in the eye and needs to receive special treatment.
The Israel army also stopped a peaceful demonstration by the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate in the West Bank city of Bethlehem on May 2 (the eve of World Press Freedom Day). The demonstrators had planned to march from the edge of the city to an army checkpoint but were stopped by teargas and flash grenades.
B’Tselem, an Israeli human rights group, says, “This type of abusive behavior has gradually become a part of everyday reality for Palestinians of the occupied territories. On occasion there are also cases of more serious violence, which Israeli authorities condemn but often do not take real measures against the perpetrators.”
“Most cases involve a ‘small dose’ of ill-treatment such as a slap, a kick, an insult, a pointless delay at checkpoints, or degrading treatment. These acts have become an integral part of Palestinian life in the Occupied Territories. From time to time, however, cases of severe brutality occur.”