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Press freedom dealt a serious blow as two AFP reporters are attacked by Israeli soldiers in Nablus

September 30, 2015

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joined the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate (PJS), the Federazione Nazionale della Stampa Italiana (FNSI) and (SNJ, SNJ-CGT, CFDT Journalistes), respectively IFJ affiliates in Palestine, Italy and France, in condemning the appalling attack on two AFP reporters by Israeli soldiers and calling for end of impunity enjoyed by Israeli army which undermines freedom of information.

The two AFP journalists, Italian cameraman Andrea Bernardi and his Palestinian colleague photographer Abbas Momani, both clearly identifiable as journalists, were violently assaulted by soldiers at Beit Furik, near Nablus while they covered clashes between the army and Palestinian protesters.

The soldiers, clearly unhappy about journalists’ witnessing the heavy handed repression of the protest, set upon them, hurling them to the ground and breaking their cameras and confiscating other equipment.

The PJS President and IFJ Executive Committee member, Abdel Nasser Najjar, denounced the attack, describing the brutality against the two journalists as “further evidence of the Israeli government’s attacks against foreign and local journalists on the territories for the sole purpose of hiding Israel’ atrocities committed against Palestinians."

His fellow IFJ Executive Commitee member Franco Siddi of Italy added that “These attacks are very serious and unacceptable. Journalists are witnesses to the truth. This particular attack by the Israeli soldiers is even more unconscionable as soldiers have to comply with clear (international law) rules, one of which is not to target civilians, including journalists, who are entitled to protection.”

The French IFJ affiliates joined the statements by the Foreign Correspondents’ Association (FCA) in Jerusalem, which denounced the « appalling attitude » of Israeli soldiers, adding that “No action would have been taken, had it not been for the video recording.”

The IFJ cautiously welcomed the action taken by the Israeli army authorities against soldiers involved in the incident, which marked as departure from the practices in the past. "Only a fortnight ago, at least ten Palestinian journalists were injured by soldiers who hit them and damaged their equipment in order to prevent them from filming, “ said IFJ President Jim Boumelha. “ No action was taken by their commanders. This time the army announced disciplinary measures against the soldiers. Could this be the breakthrough to end impunity that we have been waiting for?"

The IFJ and its affiliates fully support the AFP journalists and call for an investigation into the methods of the Israeli army to hold accountable those who authorise them at the highest level. The Federation and its affiliates also want to see the end of impunity for those who commit these atrocities so that Palestinian journalists can enjoy real freedom to move and to inform the public.

For more information contact:
International Federation of Journalists
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