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Gaza: Urgent action needed to protect journalists


During three weeks in the Gaza Strip Israeli forces killed four journalists and directly targeted media offices and cars. This is in addition to preventing the entrance of international media. The International Federation of Journalists and the Federation of Arab Journalists and a number of journalists’ leaders are calling for urgent action to protect the Palestinians press from internal parties and the Israelis. The IFJ and FAJ have concluded a two-day emergency mission to Gaza with a call for urgent action to improve the safety of journalists and media in the region...


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Gaza: Urgent action needed to protect journalists

PNN

Jan 25, 2009

eGaza - During three weeks in the Gaza Strip Israeli forces killed four journalists and directly targeted media offices and cars. This is in addition to preventing the entrance of international media.

The International Federation of Journalists and the Federation of Arab Journalists and a number of journalists’ leaders are calling for urgent action to protect the Palestinians press from internal parties and the Israelis.

The IFJ and FAJ have concluded a two-day emergency mission to Gaza with a call for urgent action to improve the safety of journalists and media in the region.

"The Israeli army has left the scene after three weeks of turmoil and tragedy in which media have been in the firing line," said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. "But the threats and intimidation of media continue. We need to take urgent action to protect Palestinian journalists."

The mission met with local journalists’ leaders, talked to media personnel injured and caught up in the fighting and toured media sites bombed by Israel during the conflict. The mission says a comprehensive package of measures is urgently needed including:

Safety training and material for the protection of journalists;

Humanitarian aid to the media families affected by the violence;

A full investigation by the United Nations of targeting of media by Israel in violation of international law;

Measures to encourage solidarity among Palestinian journalists in Gaza and the West Bank and to assist the Palestine Journalists Syndicate;

Support for professional actions to counter undue political influence of media in the region which are affected by sectarianism which has divided the West Bank and Gaza.

"Israel has much to answer for and must be held accountable by the international community," said White. "But we must take action now to ensure that journalists are protected and that political attempts to control media and journalism are ended."

The IFJ says that the Hamas and Palestinian Authorities must stop interfering with media and must allow journalists to work freely.

"In Gaza we found evidence of intimidation by Hamas. This is completely unacceptable. We understand that humanitarian help to media including safety vests for journalists in danger have been seized and confiscated. This is intolerable," said White.

"All sides must take their hands off the media and allow journalists to work freely without any form of intimidation."

The IFJ and FAJ also decided to support a detailed investigation to determine whether Israel has violated international law, including Security Council Resolution 1738 on the protection of journalists in armed conflict.

The international mission was led by Aidan White and Federation of Arab Journalists General Secretary Makram Mohamed Ahmed, who is also President of the Egyptian Journalists' Union. Other members of the mission are: Nikos Megrelis(EIAS, Greece), Patrick Kamenka (SNJ-CGT, France), Kjetil Haanes (NJ, Norway), Paolo Serventi (FNSI, Italy), Omar Mousa Al Shnaikat (JPA, Jordan); Anne Poulsen (IMS, Denmark), Hatem Zakariya (FAJ, Egypt).

The IFJ and FAJ agreed to put in place mechanisms which will support and contribute to the unity of journalists in Palestine. "Journalists in Palestine have been victims of sectarianism and divisions," said White. "Now they must forge unity and harmony and keep self-serving politics out of the newsroom."

The IFJ thanked the FAJ for their prompt response to an appeal for joint action over the Gaza crisis and said the two organizations are committed to building professionalism in journalism in the region. The two organisations also agreed to consult over plans for a second mission involving leaders of journalists’ unions in the coming weeks.





:: Article nr. 51212 sent on 26-jan-2008 06:53 ECT

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