CJFE Calls For Halt To Attacks On Media In Palestinian Territories

Sunday, April 14, 2002
Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) calls for an investigation into the killing yesterday of an Italian journalist and the earlier armed attacks on dozens of others journalists in the West Bank. Israeli soldiers shot and killed Italian freelance photographer Raffaele Ciriello in the town of Ramallah yesterday. Ciriello, on assignment for the Italian daily Corriere della Sera, was hit six times in the chest and died shortly afterwards. Another freelance journalist, not immediately identified, was severely injured in the incident. Ciriello was the first foreign journalist to be killed in the 17-month conflict in Israel and the Palestinian territories. Since November 2000, at least two Palestinian journalists have also been killed and many others injured. He is the ninth journalist in the world to have died this year on the job. CJFE Executive Director Joel Ruimy expressed regret at the killing of Ciriello. "We extend our deepest sympathy to his family," he said. "At the same time, we call on Israeli authorities to investigate thoroughly this shooting and others on journalists, and to make public their findings." In a separate incident on March 12, Israeli forces directed heavy machine gun fire at the City Inn Hotel in Ramallah. The hotel housed more than 30 reporters and camera operators, most of them from Western media outlets, filming an Israeli army operation at the nearby al-Amari refugee camp. Israeli forces reportedly fired on the hotel, located about 300 metres from the camp, for about 15 minutes. There were no injuries; however, gunfire destroyed an ABC camera. According to the journalists present, Israeli forces gave no prior warning of the attack. The journalists said gunfire smashed windows and damaged the interior and exterior of the building. "This incident suggests that the Israeli military either cannot enforce discipline among its soldiers or else has little regard for journalists covering the conflict," said Ruimy. "We call on the Israeli government to take all steps necessary to ensure that attacks on media outlets and journalists of all nationalities in the Palestinian territories cease immediately and unconditionally." Israel began the assault on Ramallah - the West Bank power base of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat - on March 11 as part of a larger offensive against the Palestinians following a marked increase in violence between the two sides. Canadian Journalists for Free Expression is a non-profit, non-governmental organization that works to protect and promote freedom of expression both in Canada and around the world.

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