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IFJ demands inquiry as one journalist is confirmed dead in Gaza ships attack

(IFJ/IFEX) - 4 June 2010 - The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), with the backing of its affiliate in Israel, today called for a special inquiry into the killing of a journalist and injuries to others during the Israeli assault on a flotilla of ships carrying humanitarian aid which took place on June 1.

"We now know that one journalist died and at least one other is seriously injured in horrifying circumstances that remain unexplained," said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. "We are also gathering information about the treatment of journalists and the confiscation of their material, all of which raises new concerns about the violations of their rights."

The IFJ says that a specific inquiry into the treatment of journalists is required because around 100 of the people detained by the Israeli authorities were thought to be journalists from across the globe including Australia, Algeria, Jordan, Turkey, Greece, the UK, Italy, Iran, Germany, South Africa, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan and UAE.

The media victims are Turkish journalist Cevdet Kılıçlar, killed by a shot to the head, and Indonesian cameraman Sura Fachrizaz, who was shot in the chest and seriously injured. Fachrizaz is in a hospital in Haifa and his injuries are not considered life threatening.

The IFJ is in touch with reporters involved as well as a number of unions representing media staff, and is compiling information on the material that was confiscated by the Israeli authorities.

Marcello Faraggi, a journalist who was on board the Mediterranean Sea, a cargo ship which was part of the aid convoy and was later detained in the Israeli prison of Bersheva, told the IFJ that journalists were subjected to a body search and stripped of their equipment during their detention.

A special information collection point has been established to prepare a dossier on the incident, which will form the basis of the journalists' claims for compensation in the aftermath.

The IFJ affiliate in Israel, the National Federation of Israel Journalists (NFIJ), which has been assisting journalists and gathering information, should also be involved in any inquiry into the treatment of journalists, says the IFJ.

The NFIJ section in Jerusalem, the Journalists Association in Jerusalem, has specifically urged the Israeli government to immediately give back all the equipment that was confiscated from the journalists on the boats. "Journalists on duty should be left out of any confrontation and should have the full freedom to cover the events in a professional way," they said in a statement.

Further concerns have been raised about the broadcasting by Israeli authorities of material confiscated from journalists, which is being used to project the authorities' version of events.

"This is shocking disregard for the rights of journalists," said White. "The confiscation and then unauthorized use of journalists' footage shows the contempt that the Israeli authorities have for journalism."

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