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World Press Freedom Review
2002 World Press Freedom Review
New depths of Israeli repression against the media were plumbed in the Occupied Palestinian Territories during 2002. Over the twelve months, many journalists were shot and four were killed – more than in previous years. Other journalists were beaten, jailed for months without charges, threatened, expelled and harassed. Media outlets were blown up and vandalised. Documentation and equipment were destroyed and stolen.
Based on these violations, CPJ has named the Occupied Territories, which have been under almost complete Israeli military occupation since 2000, the most dangerous place in the world to work as a journalist during 2002. IPI sent an unprecedented five protests to Israel during the first seven months of the year.
Palestinians journalists, who are prohibited from entering Israel, and who are now more than ever prevented from carrying out their work in the Occupied Territories, have been especially targeted. The controversial decision by Ariel Sharonís government to refuse the renewal of press accreditation for Palestinians at the end of 2001 provoked charges of racism against Israelís media policy. Sadly, nothing has been done to improve the situation in 2002. Ethnic profiling also appeared to be at work in the numerous expulsions of foreign journalists of Arab origin.
Moreover, during Israeli military offensives, whole Palestinian cities and towns, with hundreds of thousands of inhabitants, were routinely closed to all journalists, regardless of ethnicity. Journalists were obstructed, humiliated, detained, searched and sometimes stripped of their equipment, documentation and press cards. The foreign media also faced new obstacles, such as increasingly complicated visa and work permit requirements. In addition, there were new income tax pressures on foreign correspondents in Israel.
On the other hand, Israel came under increasing attack within its own borders, as Palestinian suicide attackers intensified terrorist activities during the first half of the year. Nonetheless, not one of the terrorists was a journalist or pretended to be one. Repression of the media – Palestinian, foreign or Israeli – by Israeli forces is therefore inexcusable. But it is done with impunity – with few exceptions – thus making the state of Israel responsible and guilty, along with its armed forces.
The Israeli-based media faced a deepening economic recession and an unprecedented avalanche of legal initiatives to curb media rights. Editors and publishers had to devote considerable efforts to blocking these legal proposals or to ameliorate various initiatives. Among other things, they hired the services of lobbying firms. One such law, expected to be passed in 2003, would prohibit the publication of a suspectís name before indictment.
On 15 January, 29 media and press freedom organisations in Israeli and the Palestinian Authority territories, including Reuters and RSF, issued a joint statement urging the government of Israel to renew accreditation of Palestinian journalists. The new regulation went into force on 1 January. Daniel Seaman, head of the Israeli Government Press Office (GPO), said that Israel would not pay attention to the aforementioned statements, particularly those made by RSF, as the group had included Shaul Mofaz, Chief of Staff of the Israeli army, on a list of world figures it called "predators" of media freedoms. In July, RSF added the Israeli prime minister, Ariel Sharon, to the list.
Israeli troops blew up the Voice of Palestine broadcasting offices and studios in Ramallah on 19 January. Arriving with tanks and bulldozers, the soldiers placed explosive charges on the upper floors of the building. The charges were detonated and half of the five-storey complex was destroyed. Crippled by previous Israeli Defence Force (IDF) attacks, the station had been operating on regional frequencies since December 2001. Israel has accused the Voice of Palestine, which broadcasts the official positions of the Palestinian Authority, of transmitting provocative material.
On the following day, the Voice of Palestine resumed broadcasting on FM frequencies used by other private radio stations. On 21 January, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan condemned Israel for the act. Three days later, the Palestinian Broadcasting Corporation (PBC) said that it planned to demand at least US $10 million in compensation from Israel for the destruction it has wrought.
On 20 January, a cameraman for Abu Dhabi TV, Haitham Omari, who was covering a gun battle between Palestinians and Israeli soldiers in Ramallah, was hit by a bullet that penetrated his camera, causing injuries to the reporterís neck and knee.
Two journalists, Nabil Abu Dayyeh, a cameraman for the PBC, and Samer Abu Daqqa, a soundman for Al-Jazeera, were wounded in an Israeli air strike on a security compound in Gaza on 11 February. Sagui Bashan, a TV journalist for Israelís Channel Two, was fired upon by Israeli soldiers as he was leaving the Gaza Strip in his car, which carried clear "Press" markings, on 14 February. Bashan was wounded in the shoulder and leg by ricochets from a bullet.
Israeli soldiers raided the offices and studios of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) on 21 February in the Gaza Strip. They confiscated equipment and later blew up the Voice of Palestine headquarters building, setting it on fire and causing it to collapse, again taking radio and television transmissions off the air. In a protest, CPJ said that they had analysed the Voice of Palestine broadcasts and found them to be non-military in purpose, thus challenging the Israeli attempt to justify its repeated attacks on the Voice of Palestine.
On 12-13 March, the IDF stormed Ramallah and other towns and areas under PNA rule in its largest military offensive against Palestinians in 35 years. Supported by at least 150 tanks, bulldozers, artillery and the air force, the IDF laid siege in what it said was a punitive action against Palestinians following an escalation in violence between the two sides.
Heavy Israeli machinegun fire shattered the windows of a Link Productions office in Ramallah on 12 March, narrowly missing Franz Normann, a correspondent for the Austrian public broadcaster, ORF, and around 30 other journalists working for different organisations, who were present in the building at the time. There were no injuries, but gunfire destroyed an ABC camera after the fleeing crew left it on its tripod. Reports from the journalists present indicated that there were no ongoing hostilities in the area at the time and that the IDF was aware that journalists occupied the building. Israeli forces gave no prior warning of the attack, which lasted for about 15 minutes.
Raffaele Ciriello, an Italian free-lance photographer, who was on assignment for the daily Corriere della Sera, was killed by Israeli gunfire on 13 March, during the re-occupation of Ramallah. Amedeo Ricucci of the Italian television station Rai Uno told CPJ that he and his cameraman were accompanying Ciriello at the time of the incident, who was following a group of Palestinian gunmen who were some 200 yards in front of them. Ricucci said the area was quiet and was located roughly 500 yards from a nearby refugee camp where fighting between Israelis and Palestinians was taking place. The three journalists were standing inside a building. Shortly afterwards, a tank emerged at one end of the street some 150 yards away. Ciriello left the building and pointed his camera at the tank. He then came under fire without warning. Ciriello was shot in the stomach six times and died of his wounds soon afterwards.
The IDF said that journalists who entered the area were "endangering" themselves and claimed that it was not clear whether Cirielloís death was caused by Israeli or Palestinian gunfire. After diplomatic pressure from Italy, the IDF started an investigation into Cirielloís death. It is unclear whether any journalists in Ramallah, the largest city on the West Bank aside from Jerusalem, and home to many media outlets and offices, were warned by the IDF that the area was closed.
On 23 August, the Israeli army said its investigation found "no evidence and no knowledge of an (army) force that fired in the direction of the photographer". In response, IFJ said the army report was a whitewash and "lacking all balance and credibility". It called for an independent inquiry into the shooting, a move supported by Ciriello's own union, the Italian Association of Journalists.
Also, on 13 March, a French photographer, who did not want to be named, was wounded in the leg during fighting in Ramallah. He said he did not know whether he had been hit by shrapnel or a bullet.
On the same day, Tareq Abdel Jaber, a reporter for Egyptian TV, told CPJ that he and his cameraman were driving on a main street in Ramallah when their car, which was clearly identified as a press vehicle, came under fire. There was no fighting taking place in the area at the time, Jaber said. Bullets penetrated the car and struck his flak jacket, but he was not seriously hurt. Although Abdel Jaber did not visually identify the shooter, he said that Israeli tanks and military personnel surrounded the entire area.
The Ramallah offices of Al-Jazeera also came under Israeli fire on 13 March. The office was hit by Israeli machine gun fire shortly after Al-Jazeera correspondents finished an interview with Palestinian information minister Yasser Abed Rabbo. The gunfire came from a tank stationed about 100 meters beyond the office and struck a window from which a second staff cameraman was filming Israeli-Palestinian clashes some 300 meters away. A round of bullets narrowly missed the cameramanís head.
AP reported that some 20 Israeli soldiers searched the APís Ramallah office on 13 March. The soldiers then took positions on a higher floor, where they attracted Palestinian fire.
Amjad al-Alami, a 22-year-old cameraman from a local Palestinian television station, was killed by Israeli gunfire in Hebron on 18 March. He was wearing a bullet-proof flak jacket clearly marked with the letters "TV", when he was killed by a single shot to the head by an Israeli sniper.
On the same day, Israeli defence minister Ben Eliezer said that journalists would not be allowed to accompany Israeli troops while they operate in the West Bank or Gaza. The announcement came after Israeli troops had been criticised by governments and organisations around the world for their use of excessive force in Palestinian cities and villages. Carlos Handal, a cameraman for the Egyptian Nile TV, was seriously wounded by gunfire while driving in Ramallah with a colleague on 29 March. Handal was filming from the window of a mini-van clearly marked "TV", driven by his colleague Raed el-Helu, when he was hit in the jaw and neck by a bullet that came through the windshield. Other bullets also hit the vehicle. Handal was taken to a hospital and placed in intensive care. El-Helu said the shots came from an Israeli sniper.
On 30 March, Israeli soldiers again broke into the headquarters of The Voice of Palestine, forcing it to go off the air. The troops ordered four journalists to leave their offices. The Ministry of Culture building which housed a local radio and TV station was also occupied.
On the same day, Israeli soldiers entered a building that houses offices of several Palestinian and foreign media, including Reuters, and forced the journalists to leave. Four Turkish journalists were detained for several hours at the Ramallah press centre by Israeli soldiers who searched them, confiscated their passports and prevented them from leaving the building.
An American journalist, Anthony Shahid of the Boston Globe, was hit in the shoulder by a bullet although he was wearing a bullet-proof vest with "Press" written on it, on the following day. Shahid said he did not see who fired at him but said the area was surrounded by Israeli tanks and soldiers at the time.
The Israeli government told media organisations on 31 March that it would be strictly applying rules under which journalists must submit reports about defence matters to a military censor.
Six foreign civilian volunteers protesting the Israeli invasion were injured when they marched up to tanks in Beit Jala on 1 April. One woman was hit in the stomach by a bullet, and witnesses said the others were struck by shrapnel after an Israeli soldier fired into the ground. An APTN cameraman, Iyad Hamad, was also injured by the shrapnel. Another Israeli soldier kicked and pushed a Reuters cameraman and fired one shot over his head while he was covering the demonstration.
On 1 April, Israeli soldiers expelled an American CBS News television team from Ramallah. At the same time, a vehicle containing six Western reporters and photographers was fired at by Israeli troops near the city centre. "I think the soldiers got worked up and fired a hail of bullets in our direction", said one of the journalists, who refused to be named.
BBC reporter Orla Guerin and her television crew came under Israeli fire while covering peaceful protesters walking through the streets of Bethlehem on the same day. No one was injured in the attack.
On the following day, Israel threatened the US television stations CNN and NBC with legal action, since they continued to report from Ramallah. The city of 210,000 inhabitants had been declared closed to journalists by Israel on 29 March. Initially, however, the Israeli army had only sporadically enforced its closure. Bethlehem was once again declared closed to journalists by Israel on 2 April. The Foreign Press Association in Israel protested both closures.
On the same day, Atta Oweisat, a photographer working for the Israeli daily Yediot Aharonot and the Gamma news agency, was arrested by Israeli soldiers in Beitunia in the West Bank when they discovered he was not properly accredited. He was held for six hours during which time he was handcuffed and blindfolded. Andrť Durand, a journalist who works for AFP, was held together with Oweisat and released after two hours.
Abas al-Moumani, an AFP photojournalist, was driving his car, which was clearly marked with "TV", in Ramallah on the same day, when Israeli soldiers opened fire at his car and a bullet hit the rear view mirror inside the car. The car was stopped and Israeli soldiers confiscated Moumaniís camera. They forced him to put his hands behind his head and left him standing for three hours, after which they returned his camera and ordered him to leave the area.
On the same day, Asam el Asawi, a journalist with Abu Dhabi Television was expelled from the country by the GPO and the Interior Ministry due to "exaggerated reports" of Israeli army operations. In addition, Asawiís colleague, Laida Awada, was stripped of her press card.
In Bethlehem on 2 April, an Israeli soldier fired a round towards the car of Reuters photographer Magnus Johansson, which was clearly identified as a press vehicle.
Ahmed Assi, a cameraman with ANN, was arrested in Ramallah on the same day and imprisoned in Ashkelon.
On 3 April, Ashraf Farraj and Jalal Hameid of the Bethlehem TV station Al-Rouah were arrested by Israeli soldiers and deported to the Beitunia detention centre near Ramallah. Maher Hussein Romanneh, a presenter on Palestinian Radio, was arrested in Ramallah on the same day and taken to the Ofer detention centre.
Israeli troops threw stun grenades to turn back foreign journalists on their way to cover US envoy Anthony Zinniís meeting with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in the West Bank on 5 April. A Reuters correspondent among the 25 foreign journalists in six armoured cars saw two Israeli jeeps and an unmarked vehicle blocking the access road to Arafatís compound in Ramallah.
The troops then threw stun grenades, which are used to disorientate and frighten their targets by creating a loud noise and a bright flash. As the convoy turned back, some of the journalists got out and fled on foot. Israeli border police gave chase, confiscating the identification cards of some of the journalists. Two bullet holes were later discovered in the car used by the CNN crew.
On the same day, the German news agency, DPA, reported that two German journalists travelling with a German medical relief team were harassed and shot at by Israeli soldiers. DPA did not mention the names of the journalists nor their affiliations. As can be seen from the above, an increasing number of journalists who suffered Israeli army harassment or violence prefer to remain anonymous. This could be interpreted as a worrying sign that reporting violence against reporters could lead to repercussions from the Israeli army or even the GPO, and, also, that some press freedom violations may remain unreported.
At the same time, reporters for the press freedom organisation, RSF, were refused accreditation and access by the Israeli government to the occupied Palestinian territories because of their "political" reporting.
On 6 April, Jassem al-Azzawi, a correspondent for Abu Dhabi Television with US citizenship, was detained and deported without being allowed to contact the US consulate.
A group of five Cypriot journalists and a delegation of Cypriot parliamentarians entering Israel were all detained for hours at Ben Gurion airport on 7 April and then deported from the country and sent back to Cyprus. All of their passports were stamped with a prohibition from entering Israel. An additional ten journalists belonging to the international press corps were refused entry to Ramallah before being temporarily arrested and having their papers confiscated.
On the same day, Husam Abu Allan, a photographer for AFP, and four other journalists from a Spanish television station, were shot at in Yatta by the Israeli army although they wore clearly marked press jackets and waved a white cloth.
On 8 April, several media workers for Nile TV and Abu Dhabi TV had their offices in Ramallah raided and ransacked by the Israeli army. Equipment was destroyed, and journalists in the building were harassed and intimidated.
In Nablus, on the following day, Gilles Jaquier, a cameraman for France 2, was shot above the flak jacket between his neck and chest. The perpetrators remain unidentified. On the same day, Yuzuru Saito, a reporter for Tokyo TV in Bethlehem, was threatened and had his video tapes confiscated by the Israeli army. Vincent Benhamou, a cameraman, also had his video tapes confiscated and shots were fired by soldiers in order to intimidate him and chase him out of the area.
Nasser Ishtayeh, a photographer for AP, and Jafer Ishtayeh from AFP were held by Israeli soldiers for an hour and a half close to the village of Salem on 10 April. They were forced to strip at gunpoint, but refused to hand over their bullet proof vests and films. They were barred access to Nablus.
On 11 April, Israeli soldiers assaulted a group of local and foreign journalists around the Jenin refugee camp. Ata Awisat from Gamma, Rowhi al-Rasem from APTN, Amar Awad from Reuters and Jerome Delay from AP were forced to take their clothes off. Their press cards and film were confiscated. They were refused entry into Jenin.
On the same day, Carlos Yousef Handal, a cameraman for Nile TV, was refused passage and denied an access permit to an East Jerusalem hospital from Ramallah for an operation on a gunshot wound perpetrated by Israeli troops . On 13 April, Israeli soldiers arrested Walid el-Omari, the Ramallah bureau chief of Al-Jazeera, at a checkpoint near Jenin. His equipment was also seized.
A TV reporter and a cameraman from Spainís TV3, two Palestinian photographers from the Israeli daily Yediot Adhronot and from Reuters, as well as two reporters from AFP were barred from entering Jenin on 15 April.
AP reporter Mohamed Daraghmeh was detained by Israeli forces in Nablus on the following day. He and thirty other Palestinian men were apprehended from the building in which they resided during an army sweep of the neighbourhood. He was released the same night but did not arrive home until the following day due to the curfew in Nablus. As he made his way back home, he was repeatedly harassed by Israeli soldiers.
A Swedish TV crew were fired on in their vehicle in Ramallah on the same day. Peder Carlqvist, a member of the crew, said that the shots were fired in response to orders from Israeli soldiers.
Two Palestinian journalists, Maher Shalabi and Majid Sawalha were arrested by Israeli soldiers in the centre of Ramallah on 16 April, and were subsequently blindfolded and handcuffed. They were then beaten up before being released.
That week, Israeli forces arrested Maher al-Dessouki, the host of a talk show on the Ramallah-based Al-Quds Educational TV. Al-Dessouki was taken from his brother-in-lawís home along with another journalist, Kamel Jbeil. Both were held at the Ofer detention facility under "administrative detention". Al-Dessouki hosts the popular weekly talk show "Space for Opinion".
On 20 April, Mahfouz Abu Turk, a veteran Palestinian news photographer with Reuters, was detained at an Israeli army checkpoint near Jenin. Abu Turk said following his release, "I was not asked a single question during my confinement. I was arrested without cause." He had been with a Reuters news crew returning from a tour of Jeninís devastated refugee camp when troops detained him. Abu Turk said he was kept blindfolded with his hands tied for 20 hours at a military encampment in Israel before troops dropped him back in the West Bank, one kilometre from the dividing line with the Jewish state.
When his blindfold slipped at one point, Abu Turk saw he was confined to the back half of a military bus separated by razor wire from the front of the vehicle occupied by soldiers. He was held with five other blindfolded Palestinian detainees. When one prisoner asked for a cigarette and another complained of stomach cramps, guards shouted them down. Tired, thirsty and hungry, Abu Turk had to walk back into Israel after his release.
On 22 April, Israeli soldiers confiscated the press cards of 17 foreign and Palestinian journalists, from news organisations including Reuters, AP, Al-Jazeera, the BBC, and AFP, who had attempted to approach Bethlehemís Church of the Nativity, site of an ongoing standoff between the Israeli army and Palestinians holed up inside. An officer told the group that it was a closed military area and ordered the journalistsípress cards confiscated. Most of the cards were returned later that day following protests from news organisations.
On 22 May, five Palestinian journalists, Maher al-Dessouki of Al Quds Educational TV, Kamel Ali Jbeil of the daily Al Quds, AFP photographer Hussam Abu Alan, Reuters sound engineer Yousri El Jamal, and Ayman El Kawasmi, director of the local radio station El Horriya, were taken into "administrative detention" by Israeli soldiers on suspicion of having been involved in terrorist activities. No evidence was ever put forward to support these allegations. Al-Jamal and Abu Alan spent more than five months in detention without trial or charge, despite repeated protests from the international community over their custody.
Mashhur Abu Eid, a correspondent for the Jordanian news agency, Petra, was arrested by Israeli soldiers on 31 May. Four days later, according to RSF, the journalist was driven to the Jordanian border in a prisoner bus with his legs tied and then expelled. Eid was arrested along with seven Western peace activists near Nablus.
He arrived in Israel on 27 May with the necessary press accreditation and wanted to film a gathering of Western peace activists who had come to inquire into the human rights situation inside Palestinian refugee camps. Eid was accused of failing to respect a closed military area and resisting arrest. On 2 June, the journalist refused to sign his deportation order and, along with the seven peace activists, asked to be allowed to appeal to the Supreme Court to seek the annulment of his deportation order. The Jordanian foreign minister and Petra then negotiated with the Israeli authorities to secure his release.
On 12 July, Imad Abu Zahra, a freelance reporter, died of his wounds one day after he was shot by Israeli troops in Jenin. He was wounded in the thigh, lost a lot of blood and slipped into a coma before being brought to the hospital. Said Dahla, a photographer working for the Palestinian news agency, WAFA, was also wounded in the incident, but survived. An Israeli army spokesman said the shooting began after a group of Palestinian children approached a military vehicle and threw stones and firebombs. The soldiers were then allegedly shot at and returned fire. Palestinian witnesses, however, denied there had been any exchange of fire nor any firebombs. The killing was still being investigated by the chief military prosecutorís office at the end of the year.
Gideon Levy, a well-known columnist for Ha'aretz, came under fire from Israeli troops in Tulkarm on 11 August after receiving army authorisation for his trip. Haíaretz photographer Miki Kratzman and a human rights worker were in a taxi with Levy when an Israeli officer directed them towards a military office. One hundred metres from the office, the journalists were greeted by a burst of bullets, "three of which hit the windscreen and were thus clearly intended to kill," said Levy. No one was hurt. The army gave the platoon commander a suspended 21 day jail sentence, and an operations sergeant who failed to report the entry of the vehicle into the zone was sentenced to 35 days confinement to base.
On 15 August, Ahmed Bahaddou, a Belgian cameraman with Reuters, was expelled to Jordan after having been refused entry to Israel and detained overnight at Tel Avivís Airport. Daniel Seaman, head of the GPO, had previously promised Reuters that Bahaddou would be authorised to return to work in Israel on condition that he only cover the Gaza Strip and West Bank. Bahaddou was held for 20 hours in a cell at Ben-Gurion Airport after being refused entry on 14 August. Seaman said the Interior Ministry had denied Bahaddou entry under pressure from trade unions that object to foreign cameramen working in Israel. In early July, the Israeli authorities had asked him to obtain a work permit.
The Israeli cameramenís union had protested to the Interior Ministry about the large number of foreign cameramen employed by international news media in Israel. However, RSF noted that international news agencies are usually forced to use foreign cameramen to cover the West Bank and Gaza Strip. This is because Israeli journalists cannot enter these areas for security reasons and many Palestinian journalists, lacking press cards, cannot move freely. The Guardian newspaper later quoted an anonymous source suggesting that the insistence on the use of Israeli cameramen may be a ploy to increase the amount of TV footage broadcast from Israel, as opposed to the Occupied Territories.
Bassam Masaoud, a Reuters cameraman, said Israeli troops shot at him, hitting and shattering his camera, while he was filming clashes on 29 August in the Gaza Strip. Masaoud said he had taken precautions not to get caught in crossfire but had been targeted anyway.
Ammar Awad, a Reuters photographer, was shot in the shoulder on 26 August by Israeli soldiers firing rubber bullets at stone-throwing youths in the centre of Ramallah.
Issam Hamza Al Tilawi, a Palestinian journalist for Voice of Palestine, was shot and killed by an Israeli army sniper while covering a demonstration in the centre of Ramallah on 22 September. Israeli military sources say troops were returning fire from armed protesters. Witnesses claimed the journalist was clearly wearing a vest marked "Press". The killing was still being investigated by the chief military prosecutorís office at the end of the year.
On 30 September, Israeli soldiers confiscated video footage taken by Hassan Titi, a Reuters cameraman, of clashes between troops and stone-throwing Palestinians in Nablus. A 10-year-old boy had been killed and more than 20 other youths had been wounded in the clashes.
In the Israeli-occupied city of Jenin, on 7 October, Samir Abu Al-Rob, an AP cameraman, suffered lacerations to his right leg, shoulders and back when Israeli tanks fired down a street where journalists had gathered. His injuries stemmed from falling masonry.
Israel's cable television systems and Turner Broadcasting System came to an agreement on 23 October that will keep CNN on Israeli TV. Israeli government officials had accused CNN of perpetrating anti-Israeli bias. The channel was then suspended during negotiations between the two partners.
On 19 November, three Israel border police officers ambushed and beat up Reuters cameraman Mamoun Wazwaz. There were several witnesses to the incident – including other journalists from Reuters, as well as from ABC and Al-Jazeera – who then brought Wazwaz to hospital. The witnesses were also roughed up by the policemen.
Kawther Salam, a well-known Palestinian journalist from Hebron, working with Al-Ittihad, an Israeli Arab newspaper in Haifa, was granted political asylum in Austria on 5 December, partly due to interventions by IPI and IFJ. She had received several death threats from both Israeli soldiers and extreme Muslim fundamentalists. She had also been attacked by Israeli soldiers on several occasions. One soldier had broken her arm, whereupon Salam had filed a law suit. According to Salem, the Israeli judge, however, deemed the soldierís act to be a sign of affection!
In 2000, her reports on corruption in the Israeli army led to internal army investigations against two officers. In 2002, the head of the GPO, Daniel Seaman, let her know that he was not going to let her work in Israel any more, because she is a critical Palestinian reporter and the army and the Israeli settlers do not "recognise" her work. According to Salam, Seaman threatened to have her arrested if she ever came to his office for a renewal of her press card again.
Israelís Film Ratings Board drew an outcry against censorship on 11 December after it banned a documentary on an Israeli offensive in Jenin, which took place earlier in the year. The board said it had decided to ban "Jenin, Jenin", by Israeli Arab actor and director Mohammed Bakri, for a "distorted presentation of events in the guise of democratic truth which could mislead the public".
On 22 December, the interior ministry decided to close the radical Islamic weekly Sawt al-Haq wa Al-Hurriya ("Voice of Truth and Freedom") for two years, on grounds that it threatens national security. The order came at the request of the Shin Beth security service, which stated that the paper was a mouthpiece for the Islamic resistance group Hamas. Sawt al-Haq wa Al-Hurriya is published by the radical wing of the Islamic Movement in Israel, a party which has two seats in the Israeli parliament and controls five Arab towns in Israel.
The closure order was based on the 1933 Press Ordinance dating from the period of the British Mandate in Palestine, before the founding of Israel. It was last used unsuccessfully in 1953. The majority of Israeli newspapers that have been banned are those serving the countryís minority of Palestinians that hold Israeli citizenship, but this has been done using laws other than the 1933 measure. In the 1980s and 1990s, at least six Arab papers were shut down for having alleged links with a "terrorist organisation" without any direct relation to the newspaperís content.
The above was an abbreviated version of the Israeli report. To read the complete report on press freedom violations in Israel see www.freemedia.at/intifada.htm.
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