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FPA Statements 2021
December 17, 2021
Statement by the Foreign Press Association regarding Police violence towards AP photographer
On Friday, Dec. 17, Associated Press photographer Mahmoud Illean was brutally attacked by Israeli border police in the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah.
Illean was covering a small demonstration by local residents that included minor scuffles between protesters and border police. Roughly 15 minutes after the demonstration had ended, Illean said that border police tossed stun grenades toward him and then physically attacked him without any provocation, even as he repeatedly identified himself as a journalist. As video from the scene illustrates, the scene was quiet and Illean was doing nothing to interfere in the work of police when he was violently pushed to the ground and repeatedly punched. Illean was taken to the hospital and treated for head injuries.
This is the latest in a string of unprovoked attacks in recent years by border police on journalists working for international media. The Foreign Press Association strongly condemns this behavior, which raises serious questions about the discipline and professionalism of the officers.
We urge the Ministry of Internal Security, the national police and the border police to conduct a serious investigation and take appropriate disciplinary action against the officer involved.
August 24, 2021
STATEMENT BY THE FOREIGN PRESS ASSOCIATION ON TREATMENT OF TWO WASHINGTON POST JOURNALISTS BY PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY SECURITY FORCES
On Saturday, August 21ST, Palestinian security forces in the West Bank harassed, abused and threatened a pair of Washington Post journalists, Salwan Georgos and Sufian Taha, covering a protest in Ramallah’s Manara Square.
The demonstrators had gathered to protest the Palestinian Authority’s handling of the death of Nizar Banat, a government critic who died in the custody of Palestinian police on June 24.
As police broke up the gathering, a Palestinian policeman grabbed the Washington Post photographer as he was taking pictures of the arrests. The officer seized the camera, held the photographer’s neck and tore his press badge.
Georges explained that he was with the international media and tried to hold onto his camera. But additional security men surrounded him, taking away the camera and telling him: “Here it’s different. We don’t care.”
The police held on to the camera for over an hour, deleting seven photos and preventing him from doing his job. When the camera was returned, both journalists were ordered to leave and told there would be a “big problem” if photos of one of the officers were published.
The Foreign Press Association condemns this egregious behavior in the strongest terms. We call on the Palestinian Authority to sanction the officers who were involved in this incident and to stand behind its past promises to respect the freedom of the press.
July 4, 2021
Statement by the Foreign Press Association regarding IDF action towards AP photographer
The Foreign Press Association (FPA) is extremely concerned by an incident involving an Associated Press (AP) photographer in the West Bank on Sunday 27th June, 2021.
According to the AP, photographer Majdi Mohammed was held by Israeli soldiers against his will for about an hour during a protest near the Palestinian village of Beita. The AP says he was at risk of serious bodily harm during the detention because stones were falling all around him throughout his detention. Majdi Mohammed himself said he felt he was being used as a human shield.
The FPA notes there has been a response from the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), in which the IDF asserts that before detaining him soldiers asked Majdi Mohammed to move because he was interfering with their use of heavy machinery. The FPA also notes an IDF admission that the photographer should not have been asked to refrain from taking photos of soldiers.
Even so, this remains a very troubling incident of a photographer being prevented from doing his job and being improperly detained in a dangerous place. Photojournalism can involve personal risk, but this does not permit the holding of somebody against their will in a place where they could be hit by rocks.
The FPA reminds the IDF that the greatest test of demonstrating respect for press freedom lies in its actions in the field and urges it to ensure that all serving personnel are instructed to treat members of the press in a professional manner.
June 6, 2021
Statement by the Foreign Press Association regarding police violence towards photographer working for Agence France-Presse
On Saturday, June 5, Israeli police forcefully grabbed an Al Jazeera correspondent covering a protest in the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah and detained her for 4 hours before finally releasing her. According to Al Jazeera, she was then taken to Hadassah hospital to be treated for a broken hand and bruises to her body caused by police. Her cameraman was also beaten and his camera heavily damaged.
According to accounts from colleagues at the scene as well as videos captured by bystanders, she was arrested without provocation. The reporter was clearly identified as a journalist and wore protective equipment, including a vest that said “press,” and police refused to allow her to return to her car to show them her Israeli-issued press card.
This is the latest in a long line of heavy-handed tactics by Israeli police in recent weeks against clearly identified journalists – including the use of stun grenades, tear gas, sponge-tipped bullets and the spraying of skunk water.
Unfortunately, our previous letter to police on May 26 asking them to show restraint and respect for the media was ignored.
We call on police to punish the officers who needlessly injured an experienced journalist and broke professional equipment. And once again, we urge police to uphold Israel’s pledges to respect freedom of the press and to allow journalists to do their jobs freely and without fear of injury and intimidation.
May 25, 2021
To Commissioner Yaakov Shabtai/Doron Turjeman:
As chairman of the Foreign Press Association, I would like to express my deepest concerns about the conduct of Jerusalem police during the recent unrest in east Jerusalem and in the Al Aqsa/Temple Mount compound.
Our organization represents some 400 journalists – foreign, Israeli and Palestinian – who work for major international news organizations around the world. They are experienced and respectful of the challenges that police face in maintaining law and order in this complicated city.
Even so, we received numerous reports of journalists being hit by stun grenades, water cannons and tear gas during the unrest. While some of these instances may have been luck, we are confident that in several cases at least, journalists were intentionally attacked by security forces. (We have attached some videos of journalists being beaten by police.)
We respectfully urge you to take proper disciplinary action over any misconduct within your ranks. We also urge you to remind police that a free press is a foundation of democracy, and that officers should be doing everything in their power to protect journalists and allow them to do their essential work.
As always, we would be happy to set up a meeting to further discuss our concerns and ensure that these types of incidents do not occur in the future.
May 15, 2021
Statement by the Foreign Press Association regarding the IDF strike on a Gaza building containing international news media bureaus
The Foreign Press Association (FPA) expresses its grave concern and dismay at a decision by the Israel Defense Forces to target a building housing the offices of the Associated Press and Al Jazeera.
Knowingly causing the destruction of the offices of some of the world’s largest and most influential news organizations raises deeply worrying questions about Israel’s willingness to interfere with the freedom of the press to operate.
The safety of other news bureaus in Gaza is now in question. At a time when Israel’s border crossing with Gaza is closed, those companies with a bureau in Gaza are more important than ever in reporting events to the world.
We note that Israel has not presented any evidence to support its claim the building was used by Hamas. We further note that at no point did Israel AP the very real prospect that its Gaza operation could one day become an Israeli military target.
We call on parties on both sides of the conflict to re-state their commitment to ensuring that foreign news bureaus and operations be allowed to go about their work without being targeted, compromised, or endangered.
We further call on Israel to open the crossing into Gaza at the earliest opportunity to allow the foreign press to do its work and to support our colleagues at the AP and Al Jazeera in particular.
We request an urgent meeting with Israeli officials to discuss this incident, as well as other concerns arising from recent communications between foreign media and the Israeli military.