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Statement by the Foreign Press Association regarding border-police violence towards photographer working for Agence France-Presse [February 19, 2022]

On the afternoon of Friday, February 18th, 2022, Agence France- Presse (AFP) photographer Jaafar Ashtiyeh was hit by a hard rubber bullet fired by Israeli police border in Beita, West Bank. 

Jaafar was covering a demonstration of approximately 400/500 Palestinians participants against the outpost of Evyatar. Jaafar was clearly distant from the protesters and around 50 meters away from the border police when he was shot. He was wearing a flack jacket written « Press » on it and a helmet. When he had the feeling he might be shot at, he protected his face with his right forearm and kept his camera on his left hand. 

The last pictures taken by Jaafar suggest that he was deliberately targeted by the border police. Jaafar was doing nothing to interfere in the work of police when he was shot. He suffered severe bruising on the right forearm and his situation could have been much worse if he had not had the reflex to protect his face. 

Friday’s incident is the latest in a string of unprovoked attacks in recent years by border police on journalists working for international media, and after recent serious incidents involving Associated Press photographer Mahmoud Illean and AFP’s Ahmed Gharabli . 

Following these incidents, the FPA had a positive dialogue with the Prime Minister’s Office about the protection of the press, but have so far not been informed of any investigation or action taken by the Border police to curb this violence against the press. 

We condemn this latest case of violence by the border police and urge Israeli authorities to take a hard look at their training and lack of professionalism. 

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