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Press groups denounce expulsion of journalists from Israel

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  1. Newsgathering

    NMU         ISRAEL         Newsgathering         Apr 4, 2002    

Press groups denounce expulsion of journalists from Israel

  • The Israeli military ordered reporters to leave Ramallah, site of the Palestinian Authority’s headquarters, after it declared the area a closed military zone.

Journalism organizations, including the Committee to Protect Journalists and the Radio-Television News Directors Association, have asked Israeli leaders to halt military efforts forcing reporters to leave occupied areas of the West Bank.

Their requests follow a series of incidents this week including the expulsion of a CBS News television crew from Ramallah, the site of the Palestinian Authority’s headquarters; a shooting incident involving an MSNBC crew; and the demands from Israeli military officials that news organizations curtail their reporting in the West Bank.

“The story of what is happening in the West Bank is of utmost importance to the people of the world and needs to be reported with the accuracy that comes from first-hand observation,” wrote RTNDA President Barbara Cochran to David Ivry, the Israeli ambassador to the United States. “Threats and attacks on journalists by Israel Defense Forces are completely unwarranted.”

The Committee to Protect Journalists sent a letter to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon urging him to lift restrictions on reporters working in Ramallah, Bethlehem and Qalqiliya. The Foreign Press Association in Israel also protested the incidents.

CBS producer Kate Rydell told the Associated Press that they were preparing to shoot footage in Ramallah on April 1 when seven Israeli jeeps pulled alongside them. Although the soldiers didn’t threaten the journalists, they told them to leave immediately because Israel had declared the West Bank a closed military zone on March 29 after it took over the formerly Palestinian-occupied area.

In a separate incident, an Israeli soldier on April 2 fired upon an MSNBC crew riding in an armored vehicle marked as a media vehicle. No one was injured.

But at least one reporter has suffered injuries in the battles. Boston Globe reporter Anthony Shadid on March 31 was shot in the shoulder in Ramallah and is recovering in a Jerusalem hospital. It is not known who shot him. The next day, CBS News anchor Dan Rather narrowly avoided injury after a suicide car bomber blew up an Israeli checkpoint only minutes after Rather’s crew passed it.


© 2002 The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press

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