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MADA condemns attacks against journalists covering protests

(MADA/IFEX) - The Israeli occupation forces continued their attacks on Palestinian journalists, by throwing tear gas and sound bombs at a group of journalists on 16 July 2010 while they were covering peaceful marches.

The journalists include Associated Press photographer Abdul Hafiz Hashlamoun, France Press Agency photographer Mousa Alshaér, Pal Media cameraman Samer Hamad, Maan News Agency photographer Luay Sababa, and Al-Quds TV cameraman Akram Natshe. They were covering a march in the village of Alma'sara, near Bethlehem city.

On 17 July the Israeli occupation forces also attacked the photographers of: Agence France-Presse, Hazem Bader; Reuters Agency, Abdul Rahim Al-Aqusini; and Associated Press, Abdul Hafiz Hashlamoun, and they also detained Associated Press photographer Iyad Hamad while they were covering a peaceful march in the town of Beit Omar Near Hebron.

Hashlamoun said that on 16 July he went with a group of journalists to cover the weekly march of Alma'sara near the city of Bethlehem. The Israeli army started throwing sound and gas bombs between the legs of journalists, causing them to stop taking photos. Hashlamoun added: "There was a group of Israeli soldiers. Their mission was to impede the journalists' work and to evacuate them from the area."

"Yesterday was the fiercest day against journalists", Al-Aqusini said, while lying in a bed at Al-Ahli Hospital in Hebron. He said he was standing with a group of photographers on 17 July to cover the march of Beit Omar, when one of the Israeli soldiers threw a sound bomb at him from a close distance. It hit him under his left ear, which left him unconscious and with a hole in his left eardrum and main auditory nerve. Al-Aqusini added, "I'm still hearing a sensation in my ears and sometimes I feel the inability to focus."

Bader said: "Yesterday was very bad for journalists; we were targeted directly by the officer and soldiers. The officer personally threatened me, then he beat me with a stick on my face and legs, causing me wounds on my nose and cheek and bruises on my left leg. I wasn't able to stand, but the harder thing was when the officer prevented my colleagues from helping me. The officer also struck my colleague Hashlamoun with an iron sound bomb on his back, causing bruises."

Hamad said that the Israeli soldiers arrested him because he protested about the beating of his colleague Bader. The soldiers took him and made him sit on the ground for two hours under the sun. Israeli settlers who were in the area insulted and provoked him.

The Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA) condemns the Israeli continued targeting of Palestinian journalists, especially during their coverage of the weekly marches in the West Bank. The violations have become a major threat to the lives of journalists and their safety. MADA also demands that the international community and human rights organizations intervene immediately to stop these attacks.

MADA also strongly condemns the raid of WATAN TV headquarters by members of the Palestinian security forces on 17 July in Ramallah, after the television broadcast images of a Hizb Al-Tahrir political party march in Ramallah. WATAN director Muammar Orabi said that armed individuals in civilian clothes who identified themselves as security and intelligence members raided WATAN headquarters around 5:00 p.m., demanding the arrest of the journalists who covered the march of Hizb Al-Tahrir. They also wanted to confiscate the tape that they had recorded. Orabi added, "After a verbal argument and some calls they evacuated the building."
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