Bethlehem – Ma'an – The Department of Arab and International Relations of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (DAIR-PLO) on Sunday issued a press release urging that "Israeli Occupation crimes against the Journalists must be halted."Just last week the Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms published a report about the dangers journalists face in the territories:
The statement said that Israel has escalated its crimes against local and international journalists and media organisations. DAIR reported that Israeli measures greatly disrupt and often severely endanger the lives of journalists in the occupied Palestinian territories.
Journalists, DAIR reported, are often held for hours at checkpoints, denied entry to military zones and are subject to arrest, physical abuse and assassinations.
DAIR says that the Palestinian territories are the second most dangerous place for journalists internationally, after Iraq.
DAIR concluded its statement by declaring that it "calls for the immediate and unconditional release of Alan Johnston, the Palestinians' ally, such crimes serve only the Israeli occupation, and oppose the Palestinian interests in peace and freedom."
So who is making the journalists' lives more difficult? The ones kidnapping them, threatening and stealing their equipment, or the ones who sometimes delay them at checkpoints?
It said at least 12 Palestinian journalists were wounded in attacks by militiamen, thugs and Palestinian Authority security officers during April.
...Referring to the attacks on the journalists by Palestinians, the center said: "What is dangerous about these assaults is that they are often carried out by guards of the Palestinian Legislative Council and the Palestinian prime minister. It's also worth noting that some Palestinian armed groups in the West Bank are trying to copy the assaults that are taking place in the Gaza Strip by attacking journalists and media institutions.
According to the report, six Palestinian journalists were wounded after being beaten by bodyguards accompanying PA Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh in Gaza City on April 2.
On April 10, Palestinian gunmen stormed the studios of the Zein Radio Station in Jenin and destroyed all the equipment, the report said. A week later, another six journalists were wounded when security officers attacked a peaceful demonstration outside the building of the Palestinian Legislative Council.
On April 21, prominent Palestinian writer and journalist Ashraf Ajrami was moderately wounded when Hamas militiamen hurled a hand grenade at him near his home in the Jabalya refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip.
The center expressed deep concern over the safety of the BBC correspondent, noting that this was the longest abduction of a foreigner in the Gaza Strip. (I guess Gilad Shalit isn't a foreigner - EoZ) "The fact that he has been held for so long [since March 12] raises doubts as to whether the Palestinian Authority is making a serious effort to release him," the report noted.
"Palestinian journalists are living under very bad conditions," commented the independent Palestinian Maan news agency. "They are being beaten and their equipment is being destroyed. They are receiving death threats and some have been kidnapped."