Israeli soldiers fire on news photographers during East Jerusalem clashes

Published on 11 February 2010

Around 10 of the journalists who went to cover a major Israeli military operation in the Shu’fat refugee camp, in East Jerusalem, were targeted by Israeli soldiers firing tear-gas grenades, stun grenades and rubber bullets on 8 and 9 February.

“Everything indicates that Israeli soldiers deliberately fired on the journalists,” Reporters Without Borders said. “And this is far from being the first time. Will the Israeli authorities ever put a stop to the impunity allowed to their soldiers? We urge the Israeli military to investigate and punish those responsible. Otherwise this sort of disgraceful incident will keep recurring.”

Many journalists were wounded while covering the Israeli search and arrest operation in the refugee camp on 8 February. As the major military deployment got under way, clashes broke out between young Palestinians and Israeli soldiers near a checkpoint at the main entrance to the camp.

Diala Jwihan, a photographer for the Qudsnet website, was injured in the stomach by a grenade fired by an Israeli soldier and was taken unconscious to hospital. “I was covering the clashes from a relatively distant place when a soldier fired a grenade in my direction,” she said after leaving the hospital.

Reuters photographers Sinan Abu Mizer and Amar ‘Awad, Falestin TV cameraman Nader Pepers and CNN cameraman Karim Khadr were also injured by tear-gas grenades or rubber bullets, while Al Jazeera cameraman Samir Abou Al-Gharbiya was injured by a projectile fired by a young Palestinian.

Khadr said: “I was with other journalists in the camp when Israeli soldiers tried to prevent us covering what was going on. Then they fired a stun grenade that injured my ankle and left hand. Ten minutes later, the soldiers fired rubber bullets at us. One of them hit my hand after ricocheting off a wall.”

Three other photographers – Atta ‘Awissat and Mahmoud Alyan of the newspaper Al-Quds and Ahmed Al-Gharably of AFP – were injured in the Shu’fat camp on the evening of 9 February while covering further clashes between camp dwellers and agents who had been infiltrated by the Israeli military. The photographers, who were taken to Muhal’afati hospital, said soldiers deliberately targeted them and tried to take their equipment.

Located in the northern part of East Jerusalem and housing more than 25,000 Palestinian refugees, the Shu’fat camp is cut off from the rest of the city by a separation wall. Residents wanting to leave or return to the camp have to pass through one of two military checkpoints established on the western side. It is the only refugee camp located within the limits of the municipality of Jerusalem.

Nidal Ishtiyeh, a photographer working for a Chinese news agency, was meanwhile injured on 6 February by rubber bullets fired by Israeli soldiers outside Iraq Burin, a village to the south of the West Bank city of Nablus. He had gone there to cover clashes between villagers and Israeli settlers who had vandalised wells used by the village’s farmers to irrigate their lands.

Four news agency journalists – Ma’an photographer Rami Swidan, Pal Media photographer Ashraf Abu Shawish, Reuters photographer Abdelrahim Al-Qusini and Reuters cameraman Hassan Titi – were attacked by Israeli soldiers on 28 January in the nearby village of Burin when they went to cover clashes between settlers and olive growers.