The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has backed condemnations by its affiliate, the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate (PJS), on a raid by the Israeli military on the offices of the Palestinian news agency Wafa, on 10 December. The IFJ and PJS are demanding the release of all Palestinian journalists jailed by Israel and an end to the persecution of Palestinian journalists.
According to Khuloud Assaf, Wafa Chief Editor, PJS board member and a member of the IFJ’s Gender Council steering committee: “The occupation soldiers broke into the agency’s server room and seized video tapes of the surveillance cameras after confining the staff in one room and used the windows and balconies of the news agency to fire teargas, percussion grenades, and rubber-coated steel bullets against Palestinian demonstrators and passers-by in the area.”
She added that the Israeli forces “fired a percussion grenade inside the fourth floor of the agency building to terrify the journalists and teargas grenades at the balcony of the editorial room on the second floor, causing suffocation and breathing difficulties among the journalists who were inside the building,” after they had locked down the offices and verified the identity of all journalists.
The Palestinian Journalists Syndicate published a statement calling on all international organizations to condemn the raid and demand justice: “The Syndicate considers the raid a new crime against the Palestinian media, and a clear violation of international law that is part of the systematic and continuous crimes and violations against Palestinian journalists and media organizations.”
The PJS also condemned the arrest by Israeli forces on the same day of two journalists in the West Bank. Husain Shujaiya, working at the media department of Jerusalem Legal Aid and Human Rights Centre, was detained for a few hours while working in Hebron and Samih Manasra, working as a reporter for Jerusalem Radio, was arrested at his home.
Anthony Bellanger, IFJ General Secretary said: “We condemn this reckless act of the Israeli army which endangered the lives of Palestinian journalists working in their newsroom. Those responsible for ordering this raid must be held accountable. This new attack on press freedom and journalists in Palestine from Israeli forces is unacceptable. The violent intrusion and forfeiture of journalists’ equipment cannot be justified. We demand the immediate end of violence against Palestinian media, the release of the two journalists arrested on Monday and of all Palestinian journalists jailed by Israel.”