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IFJ Condemns Violence against Photojournalists by Israeli Military in West Bank

July 23, 2010

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today called on Israeli authorities to investigate violence by its soldiers in the West Bank who attacked a group of local photojournalists last week as they were covering demonstrations in the area for three international news agencies.

In particular, the Federation is seeking reassurances from the Government that journalists must in no way be targeted for their presence in the vicinity of areas where fighting and political direct action are taking place.

"We are deeply concerned by attempts to justify attacks on journalists on their presence near the events they are reporting on," said Jim Boumelha, IFJ President. "This would be a dangerous departure from established practice under international humanitarian law which enshrines the protection of journalists in conflict areas."

The IFJ has learned that three photographers were attacked by soldiers on Saturday as they covered a demonstration taking place in Beit Omar, near Hebron. They were Hazem Bader from French news agency AFP, Reuters Abdul Rahim Al-Aqusini and Associated Press Abdul Hafiz Hashlamoun. One photographer said he was hit by a baton and the other lost his hearing after a stun grenade exploded near him.

Hashlamoun and his colleague Mousa Alsher from AFP were victims of an earlier assault by Israeli soldiers on Friday, reports say.

News agencies quoted a spokesperson for the Israeli Defence Forces as saying that "anyone who chooses to be present in close proximity to conflict areas or violent incident does so at their own risk".

The IFJ says that attacks on local journalists have become a routine in occupied territories. Last month photographers working for five international agencies were attacked by Israeli soldiers while they were covering a weekly demonstration in Beit Jala, according to reports.

"Such reckless talk and behaviour of soldiers raise concerns over safety of local journalists working in the area," added Boumelha. "Their safety is of paramount importance and the Government in Israel, as the occupying power, must live up to its international obligation and stop tolerating its security forces attacking journalists."

For more information contact:
International Federation of Journalists
Phone: +32 235 2207

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