18th July 2013 | International Solidarity Movement, Ramallah Team | Qalandiya, Occupied Palestine
Yesterday, around 150 Palestinian journalists protested at Qalandiya checkpoint demanding freedom of movement for journalists. Israeli forces violently suppressed the demonstration by throwing sound bombs and shooting rubber coated steel bullets at journalists, resulting in five people injured.
At 12am, journalists arrived on buses from across the West Bank, gathering at Qalandiya checkpoint to protest against the restriction of movement and the lack of recognition of their international press cards by Israel.
More participants gradually arrived at the roundabout where the rally was taking place. Journalists sang chants demanding freedom of movement for journalists. One journalist said: “we are journalists recognized by the International Federation of Journalists and hold international press cards but we cannot exercise our job freely. Israel does not allow us to work in Jerusalem or Haifa while Israeli journalists can work everywhere”.
Israeli border police officers soon arrived at the roundabout and started to violently push protesters backwards, throwing sound bombs directly at demonstrators. Although the crowd dispersed, the journalists soon rallied again, continuing chanting and protesting. Once again, Israeli border police, now joined by soldiers, pushed back the crowd throwing more sound bombs and then shooting rubber coated steel bullets from a short distance.
Steadfast demonstrators remained at the roundabout for ten more minutes until at around 12:45pm, the protest was finished. Five people suffered minor injuries from sound bombs thrown at their feet and were treated by medical personnel at the scene.
Palestinian journalists are constantly targeted by Israeli forces. According to the Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms, during the first six months of 2013, there were 78 occasions where Israeli forces attacked Palestinian media in the form of physical abuse, arrest, detention, prevention from coverage, and prosecution.
Mousa Rimawi, general director of MADA, stated at a MADA press conference in Ramallah two days ago:
“Media freedoms status in Occupied Palestine still raises concerns in terms of the numbers and types of violations committed against Palestinian journalists. Violations against Palestinian journalists are one of the highest globally, and are life-threatening, where the Palestinian journalists are concerned for their life and safety, especially those who cover peaceful demonstrations and the popular resistance activities against the occupation, settlement, and the apartheid wall. Regardless of the threat, Palestinian journalists never back down and continue to exercise their profession and duty, and they have earned many appreciations and awards”
“The Israeli Occupation insistence to continue its attacks on media freedoms is due to its desire to blur the truth and hide its constant attacks on the Palestinian people’s rights is a main reason for the increase of its violations against media freedoms during the past years. Another reason for this increase is the official International community forgiving attitude towards the continues and rising Israeli violations against media freedoms”