Israeli army attacks Palestinian journalists on eve of World Press Freedom Day

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Bethlehem Checkpoint 300. March 2014. M.Whitton

Bethlehem, Palestine (TFC) – Palestinian reporters and members of the Journalists’ Syndicate were injured on Saturday as Israeli forces attacked a rally on the eve of World Press Freedom Day.

As the march culminated at Bethlehem’s Checkpoint 300, Israeli forces fired tear gas canisters and stun grenades to disperse the march, injuring Palestinian journalists and causing others to suffer from excessive tear gas inhalation.

Among the injured were, Head of the Union of Palestinian Journalists Abdel al-Nasser al-Najjar, Reuters’ photographer Mohamed abu-Ghaniyyeh and Union committee member Muhammad al-Laham who sustained wounds and bruises after stun grenades exploded near them

The march was carried out to highlight the Israeli occupation’s systematic repression of Palestinians in general, and of journalists in particular.

Part of the work of the Journalists’ syndicate is to deliver a clear picture to internationals of Israel’s violations against Palestinian journalists. According to the Gaza Center for Press Freedom, 2014 was the deadliest year so far after seventeen journalists were killed during the 50-day assault last summer.

Although international law calls for the protection of journalists during conflict, Israel often targets Palestinian journalists as they exercise their rights of coverage and expression.

As of April, 20 Palestinian journalists are being held in Israeli prisons, including six detained this year alone.

According to United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA, in 2014 alone, 2,062 Palestinians were injured by so called ‘rubber’ bullets, 1,112 with live ammunition, with 1,486 suffering from the effects of tear gas inhalation.

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UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein are signatories to this statement:

“Quality journalism enables citizens to make informed decisions about their society’s development. It also works to expose injustice, corruption, and the abuse of power. For this,  journalism must be able to thrive, in an enabling environment in which they can work independently and without undue interference and in conditions of safety.”

World Press Freedom Day was proclaimed by the UN General Assembly in December 1993 and is held internationally on the 3rd of May.

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