CJFE Calls on Israeli Government to Ensure Safety of Journalists in West Bank

Wednesday, April 3, 2002
Canadian Journalists for Free Expression today called on Israeli authorities to ensure the safety of journalists in the occupied city of Ramallah. At least 11 journalists have come under gunfire – and three of them have been shot – since Israel declared the West Bank city a “closed military zone” on March 28. Several other reporters have been expelled from Ramallah. "We appeal to Israeli authorities to reverse the decision to order all journalists out of Ramallah after declaring the city a ‘closed military zone’," said CJFE Executive Director Joel Ruimy. "The Israeli government and military authorities should do everything in their power to ensure that journalists covering the West Bank be able to carry out their professional duties without fear of attack or intimidation." In recent days, several journalists in Ramallah have been injured or been forcibly expelled from the area. Israeli soldiers shot Boston Globe reporter Anthony Shadid and Palestinian cameraman Carlos Handal. Shadid was shot in the shoulder while walking away from Palestinian National Authority chairman Yasser Arafat's compound in Ramallah. Handal, a cameraman for Egyptian Nile TV and Abu Dhabi TV, was shot in the mouth after soldiers rained gunfire on his car. Both victims were clearly identified as journalists. In other incidents, a CBS Television crew was expelled on April 1 by Israeli troops in Ramallah, while journalists from the French TV station "France 2" were barred from entering two days earlier. Israeli troops are said to have fired on, expelled or arrested approximately 30 journalists since declaring Ramallah a "closed military zone." Recalling the killing on March 13 in Ramallah of Italian freelance photographer Raffaele Ciriello by Israeli soldiers, Ruimy commented, "These continuing incidents indicate the Israeli army is attempting to intimidate – even censor – the media covering events." "We urge Israeli authorities to investigate and identify those responsible for the recent attacks on journalists in Ramallah and to enforce discipline among troops," he added. "We wish to remind the Israeli authorities that journalists are non-combatants." CJFE is a non-profit, non-governmental organization that is dedicated to promoting and protecting freedom of expression both in Canada and around the world. For more information, please contact Joel Ruimy at CJFE, tel: 416 515 9622, fax: 416 515 7879, email: ruimy@cjfe.org.

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