Med News Agencies End Visit to Palestine

RAMALLAH, June 16, 2013 (WAFA) – The Alliance of the Mediterranean News Agencies ‘AMAN’ ended on Saturday its first visit to Palestine with a long and rather informative tour in the lower parts of the West Bank.

The Palestine News agency WAFA organized a tour starting from Ramallah, through Hebron, Bethlehem and Jericho, and introduced the delegation to the famous Palestinian cityscape and country side.

The delegation first passed by Qalandia checkpoint giving them a glimpse into the harsh reality that the Palestinians suffer on daily basis.

Heading to Hebron, they passed by the many illegal Israeli settlements scattered on the sides of the road leading to Bethlehem and experienced firsthand pull over by Israeli soldiers for inspection they do every now and then.

The number of illegal Israeli settlements amazed the delegation. CEO and Chairman of the Portuguese News Agency ‘Lusa’ Afonso Camoes said ‘it’s more stupid than we usually see on TV. I don’t know how to say it in English, but you are separated, like small enclaves. I kept asking where we are, in Israel or Palestine!’

Upon arrival in Hebron, the Palestine TV crew and WAFA office in Hebron greeted the delegation and walked them through the history of the city.

Al-Ibrahimi Mosque Head Custodian Hijazi Abu Sneineh spoke to the delegation about the Israeli violations against the Islamic site and the history of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict in the city.

He guided them through the inside of the Mosque, where Israel had set up a metal gate in the mosque, following al-Ibrahimi Mosque massacre, taking over 60% of the mosque.

The delegation visited al-Shuhada’ street, where about 200 settlers live, and witnessed the Israeli restrictions imposed by the Israeli soldiers on the residents living there.

Later, the delegation visited the Church of the Nativity and was introduced to the history of the oldest active Church on earth.

The last stop was the City of Palms on the shores of the Dead Sea, where the delegation used the famous red cable cars to ascend to the Mount of Temptation, where Jesus Christ is believed to have spent forty nights.

They saw the monastery, which lies on top of the mountain and watched sunset from one of the holiest places for Christians.

Croatian News Agency ‘Hina’ Director Branka Valentic said that she was very happy to be given the opportunity to tour many historical and religious sites in Palestine.

The delegation gathered a number of senior journalists and directors of international news agencies from a number of Mediterranean countries such as Cyprus, Croatia, Egypt, Tunisia, and Spain.

This visit was a unique opportunity for those journalists to personally evaluate the situation in the area away from what media chooses to or not to broadcast.

Juan Maria Calvo, Head of International Relations EFE, said that the situation in Palestine was better than he expected, ‘I have heard about so many problems in the past, a lot of tension. The situation is not necessarily better but a bit calm.’

AMAN, which holds an annual General Assembly in which they discuss financial and private reports, announced WAFA as the new president for the year 2013 – 2014.

George Pentintaex, AMAN acting director – CNA, said that he was satisfied with the results of the meeting, the participation and the support each news agency has put to make this conference a success.

He thanked WAFA for the organization of the conference and the tour and said that coming from a place that is suffering from many problems; he understands the hardship that Palestinians have to live day by day.

The next General Assembly in 2014 is expected to take place in Spain, where WAFA will resign as the president of the Alliance and hand it over to another news agency.

Source: WAFA News