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JOURNALISTS UNDER FIRE IN RAMALLAH

Press freedom groups are urging the Israeli government to allow journalists into the besieged West Bank city of Ramallah and ensure the safety of the media following numerous reports of expulsions and injuries. Reporters Without Borders (Reporters sans frontièrs, RSF) says at least 11 journalists have come under gunfire and three of them have been hit since Israel declared Ramallah a closed military zone on 28 March. The group urges the Israeli government to cancel the ban immediately, as do the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and the
International Federation of Journalists (IFJ).

CPJ says on 1 April, a CBS Television crew was expelled by Israeli troops in Ramallah, while journalists from French TV station "France 2" were barred from entering two days earlier. Two journalists have also been injured - "Boston Globe" reporter Anthony Shadid and Palestinian
cameraman Carlos Handal. Shadid was shot in the shoulder while walking away from Palestinian National Authority chairman Yasser Arafat's compound in Ramallah. He had been wearing a flak jacket clearly marking him a journalist, says CPJ. Handal, a cameraman for Egyptian Nile TV and Abu Dhabi TV, was shot in the mouth after his car was fired upon in Ramallah. He is in stable condition.

In other incidents, RSF says that in Beit Jala, a Palestinian journalist working for AP Television News was hit in the leg on 1 April while reporting on a peace demonstration. The day before, Israeli soldiers entered a building in Ramallah housing the offices of several foreign and Palestinian media and ordered them to leave, and four Turkish reporters were detained for several hours and their passports confiscated. RSF says Israeli troops have fired on, expelled or arrested roughly 30 journalists since declaring Ramallah a closed military zone.

For more information, see www.rsf.org/rsf/uk/, www.cpj.org and www.ifj.org.


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