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Reporter detained, media targeted by military forces

(IFJ/IFEX) - The following is a 6 January 2009 IFJ media release:

IFJ Slams Israel Over Targeting and "Cynical Violations" of Media Rights

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today accused Israel of targeting Palestinian media while continuing its ban on foreign journalists from entering Gaza to cover the conflict.

"Each day that passes we see cynical violations of press freedom and the rights of journalists trying desperately to cover the tragic events unfolding in Gaza," said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. "We have reports that media inside Gaza are being targeted by Israeli soldiers while those outside are being kept at bay."

Yesterday, a compromise reached between the authorities and the Jerusalem-based Foreign Press Association to allow a selected group of foreign journalists into Gaza was withdrawn, over-ruling an Israeli court order in favour of opening the blockade of the area to give media access. The IFJ says that any arrangement to allow access should not be controlled by the Israeli military.

At the same time the IFJ says that Israeli forces have attacked vehicles inside Gaza with "Press" or "TV" markings and one cameraman has been injured. The IFJ has already protested at the destruction of the offices of Al Aqsa Television on December 28 by Israeli fighter planes in what it claims was a flagrant breach of international law.

The Palestine Journalists Syndicate (PJS) has also expressed concern over reports of the arrest and detention by Israeli military forces of Khezr Shahin, a reporter for Al-Alam.

"The continued ban on journalists travelling into Gaza to cover the conflict is outrageous, particularly given that the courts in Israel have said they should be allowed in," said White. "But reports of targeting those who are on the spot add to our concern that there is a policy in place to deny access to the full story and to intimidate reporters that are already there."

Reports from the PJS in Gaza say that on Sunday a utility vehicle bearing "TV" and "Press" markings" from Al Aqsa TV was clearly targeted.

For further information on the Al Aqsa attack, see: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/99553

The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 123 countries worldwide.

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