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Escalation of settler attacks on journalists

(MADA/IFEX) - Ramallah, 31 October 2011 - On Saturday, 29 October 2011, a group of stone-throwing settlers attacked four Palestinian journalists covering the weekly Beit Omar march near Hebron city. The journalists in question were Agence France Presse (AFP) photographer Hazem Bader, European Pressphoto Agency (EPA) photographer Abdulhafiz Hashlamoun, Palestine TV cameraman Hussam Abu Alan, and Palestine TV correspondent Fida' Nasir. Bader sustained the most serious injuries after a large stone struck his head causing substantial bleeding.

Bader told MADA that he and his colleagues were covering the weekly demonstration when settlers began throwing large stones at the crowd. Israeli Forces personnel were witness to the attack but did not prevent the settlers from continuing. Instead, they targeted the peaceful demonstrators with tear gas projectiles. During the confusion, a large stone struck Bader, resulting in severe head contusions for which he had to receive medical treatment. Bader went to a nearby hospital and received five stitches.

Hashlamoun told MADA: "During our coverage of the weekly march, the settlers attacked us with stones; one hit my waist and caused bruising. Two of my other colleagues were also injured: Hussam Abu Alan was struck on his waist and Fina' Nasir was hit on the leg. Both were bruised."

Yesterday's events recall the attack last week on an Al-Jazeera crew by stone-throwing settlers which left cameraman Majdi Al Safadi with minor injuries.

Settlers attacked the crew on 26 October as they returned from filming in the village of Beit Lou, west of Ramallah. According to Al-Jazeera's Jerusalem office, the attack occurred outside the nearby settlement of Nahaliel as the crew were on their way to Ramallah after visiting the village.

Al-Jazeera also reported that a unit of the Israeli occupation army and border guards arrived on the scene, told the crew that they couldn't do anything, and instructed them to go to the nearest police headquarters. The crew was unable to comply, however, as the nearest police headquarters were located inside the Jaba checkpoint in East Ramallah, or in Hashmonaim, near the N'lin village settlements, both of which the crew are unable to enter for security reasons.

The Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA) strongly condemns these attacks, which continue under the protection of the Israeli Defense Forces and are a direct contravention of Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

MADA reiterates its demand that the international community intervene immediately to protect Palestinian journalists, whose lives are constantly threatened by Israeli forces and attacks by settlers.

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