IFJ condemns Palestinian gunmen posing as journalists

Jun. 12, 2007

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today said the use by gunmen in Gaza of a vehicle marked with the words TV in an attack on Israeli forces was an outrageous violation of rights that puts journalists everywhere at risk.

Gaza is already one of the most dangerous places in the world for journalists but if combatants believe that media insignias are being used to disguise their adversaries, any journalist will become a target when there is no credibility for their identification, said IFJ General Secretary Aidan White. This reckless attack will put all reporting on the conflict in danger. It also reinforces the cynicism that Israeli forces and authorities display in their treatment of honest and professional Palestinian journalists.

The IFJ is supporting a statement by its Palestinian affiliate, the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate (PJS), which said that press vehicles should not be used by any of the parties in a conflict.

Militants on Sunday used a vehicle marked with a “TV” sign to approach Gaza’s frontier border with Israel and tried to kidnap an Israel Defense Forces soldier from a position across the border.

The use of vehicles that carry Press, TV or other signs exposes journalists lives to danger, gives the Israeli occupation a pretext to target and kill journalists and restricts their ability to perform their professional and national duties and harm journalistic work regulated and guaranteed by international norms and law, the PJS said in a statement. We stress our rejection of the use of media vehicles and the involvement of the press in any activity which is not related to journalism, and we demand all parties to stop using these methods.

The IFJ and its member unions have waged an international campaign to ensure that journalists working in conflict areas are regarded as civilians who are allowed to work in combat areas without fear of being targeted. The U.N. Security Council passed Resolution 1738 in December, which says that anyone targeting journalists in a conflict could face charges of war crimes.

Gaza has been an incredibly dangerous area for both local and foreign journalists. BBC correspondent Alan Johnston has been held for three months after being abducted by gunmen on 12 March. His is the latest in a series of kidnappings in Gaza in the last year. Journalists have also been caught in the crossfire of shooting attacks between Palestinian groups and between Palestinian and Israeli forces, though none have been killed this year.

All in all a bad situation has been made worse by this latest incident, White said. Now its time for a return to respect for journalism and democratic rights.

For more information contact the IFJ at 32 2 235 2207
The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 100 countries worldwide

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