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Reporters Without Borders condemns Israeli attacks on media

Reporters Without Borders has condemned Israeli attacks on information freedom, journalists and the media in the occupied Palestinian territories, the organisation said on Tuesday.

In a statement the group said: "Journalists have been targeted by the Israeli army. Others have been arrested arbitrarily. And security forces have been conducting raids on media offices. RWB urges the Israeli military to allow news professionals, whether Palestinian or foreign, to carry out their work freely and safely."

In a report entitled "Palestinian Journalists Caught Between Three Sides", RWB highlighted that journalists face the strongest pressure from Israel and its army, "which doesn't hesitate to arrest, even to kill, news professionals". The report refers to the Israeli army as "predators of press freedom".

The Palestinian Centre for Development & Media Freedoms (MADA), which tracks press freedom violations in the Palestinian territories committed by all sides, the Israeli army, the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, registered 151 press violations by Israeli forces in 2013 of a total 229 committed.

Year Violations by Israeli army (and settlers) Palestinian violations TOTAL
2008 147 110 257
2009 97 76 173
2010 139 79 218
2011 100 106 206
2012 164 74 238
2013 150 78 229
TOTAL 798 523 1221

The report said a West Bank journalist expressed outrage that "licences issued by the Palestinian Authority offer no protection against arbitrary actions by the Israeli army, which when it wants to can silence a Palestinian media outlet, even if it is located in Zone A."

Another journalist said: "The Israeli army is treating Palestinian journalists as if they were demonstrators. They make no distinction."

The statement highlighted recent examples of Israeli aggression against journalists including those that occurred on July 5, when a team from the Palestine Today TV station came under Israeli army fire while broadcasting live from the scene of confrontations in Al-Tur neighbourhood in East Jerusalem. RWB said the attack left journalist Ahmed Al-Budeiri was wounded in the shoulder and stomach. His cameraman, Ahmed Jaber was hit in the eye. Technician Walid Matar, suffered a head wound. Meanwhile, Ahmed Al-Khatib, a correspondent for the Hamas station, Al-Aqsa TV was arrested in Tulkarem.

A few days earlier, on July 2, a large number of journalists covering demonstrations at Shuafat, following the murder of a young Palestinian were wounded by fire from Israeli security forces.

Since three Israeli teenagers disappeared on June 12, and their bodies discovered 18 days later, the situation in the occupied West Bank "deteriorated to dangerous levels. Human rights violations are taking place daily and information freedom is being disregarded."

On June 22, Israeli troops descended on the offices of Palmedia in Ramallah. Digital files going back to the company's founding in 2006 were confiscated, and professional equipment was destroyed. Offices rented by Russia Today were also affected. Russia Today quoted an Israeli military spokesman who said Palmedia was targeted "because it provides services to Al-Aqsa TV, which has propagandist and inflammatory content".

Palmedia management said that members of its staff, including photographer Amar Abideen, were subjected to a series of pressures in covering "Operation Brother's Keeper" in Hebron.

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