Members of Journalists’ Syndicate, Reporters Injured as Israeli Army Attacks Bethlehem March

BETHLEHEM, May 2, 2015 (WAFA) –Palestinian reporters and members of the Journalists’ Syndicate were injured on Saturday as Israeli forces attacked a rally marking World Press Freedom Day at the northern entrance of Bethlehem.

Dozens of Palestinian reporters organized a march that set off from the northern entrance of Bethlehem toward the 300 Israeli military checkpoint near Rachel Tomb to mark the World Press Freedom Day

Attempting to quell the march, Israeli forces fired tear gas canisters and stun grenades at marchers, injuring two members of the Journalists’ Syndicate and causing dozens of reporters to suffer from excessive tear gas inhalation.

The injured members of the syndicate were identified as Head of the Press Syndicate, ‘Abdul-Naser al-Najjar, and Muhammad al-Lahham.

Both al-Najjar and al-Lahham sustained wounds and bruises in their legs after a stun grenades exploded near them. They were taken to a local hospital for medical treatment.

Israel often targets Palestinian journalists, either through arresting them or attacking them while covering peaceful marches and clashes with Palestinians, in total contradiction with international law, which calls for the protection of journalists at times of conflict.

The Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA) monitored an unexpected high number of very serious crimes and violations committed by Israel against Palestinian journalists and media freedoms, the most violent and dangerous of which took place in the Gaza Strip.

“Israel’s attacks against journalists and media freedoms escalated sharply since the beginning of its military aggression on Gaza, with 16 journalists and media worker, in addition to 1 media activist killed between 8 July (beginning of the attack) and 26 August 2014 (date of the truce),” it reported.

Attacks against media freedoms were not only committed in the Gaza Strip but also in the West Bank, where 21 Israeli abuses were monitored by MADA.

It said that in August 2014, “the Israeli attacks and violations against Palestinian media freedoms in the West Bank, Gaza and Jerusalem included; killing, destroying media headquarters, damaging journalists’ houses, injuring journalists by bullets and bombing, arresting, preventing free movement, threatening and preventing coverage, detention, interrogation, and beating.”

Reporters without Borders said on its website, “In the report, Palestinian Journalists Caught Between Three Sides, RWB highlighted the double vice gripping information freedom in the Territories. The strongest pressure comes from Israel and its army, which doesn’t hesitate to arrest, even to kill, news professionals.”