RSF calls for an immediate end to harassment, intimidation of journalists in Israel

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls for an immediate end to the harassment and intimidation to which at least 15 journalists in Israel have been subjected by members of the Israeli security forces and Israeli citizens since the start of the war.

Ever since Hamas attacked Israel on 7 October, threats and violent acts have been growing against journalists covering the war from Israel, especially Arab and Palestinian journalists but also reporters for foreign media and for newspapers regarded by the public as critical of the war, such as the left-wing Israeli daily Haaretz.

We condemn the violence and harassment to which journalists covering the war between Israel and Hamas are being subjected. These unacceptable constraints on the right to news and information, which is all the more crucial in times of war, must stop immediately. We call on the Israeli authorities to put an end to these serious attacks, to conduct investigations in order to bring those responsible to justice, and to protect media personnel.

Bureau Moyen-Orient de RSF

The victims have included Ahmed Darousha, a reporter for the Qatari TV news channel Al Arabi, who was broadcasting live to camera from the northern city of Nazareth on 15 October when a security agent suddenly appeared, stood between him and the camera and shouted: “What are you saying? I hope you are saying good things, because if you don't report the truth, woe to you.” The interloper then turned to the camera and shouted: “Killers, killers. Gaza must be reduced to dust.”

Police hold BBC journalists at gunpoint

Two days earlier, on 13 October, BBC Arabic journalists Muhannad Tutunji and Haitham Abudiab and their crew were stopped, assaulted and held at gunpoint by the Israeli police in Tel Aviv. The police later claimed that they intervened because the BBC crew’s vehicle was suspicious, although it was marked with the letters “TV” and the journalists were equipped with bulletproof vests and helmets bearing the word “press.”

In an incident on 25 October, an Israeli citizen attacked a group of five photographers – Eyal Margolin of the daily Israel Hayom, Atef Safadi, the head of the European Press Agency (EPA), a photo agency in Israel, Jalaa Marey from Agence France-Presse, Fadi Amun from Haaretz and Sergey Ponomarev from the New York Times – near the Lebanese border. The journalists were photographing the Israeli army firing on Lebanon when the Israeli man approached, threatened them, and then physically attacked Margolin, breaking his arm. The assailant was initially arrested but was released a few hours later.

At least six other journalists – with the Qatari TV news channel Al-Jazeera, the Palestinian TV channel Mousawat, and Israeli media including Channel 12, Haaretz, and the Israel Broadcast Corporation – have been subjected to harassment or attacks by members of the public and authorities.

Haaretz reported that freelancer Israel Frey was threatened by dozens of far-right activists  on 15 October for expressing concern about the number of civilians killed in Gaza.

Since the start of the war, 41 journalists have been killed – 36 in Gaza, one in Lebanon and four in Israel – of whom 12 were killed while working.

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