Two Journalists Injured, One Arrested At Demonstration in Beit Ommar

18 July 2010

Updated: Video Added

In their weekly demonstration against the expropriation of their land for the expansion of the Karmei Tsur settlement, Palestinians, joined by Israeli and international activists, gathered next to the fence surrounding the settlement on Saturday, July 17th. Established in 1984, the settlement was constructed on Beit Ommar land, destroying the life-supporting agricultural land of the Palestinian residents. Even recently, in 2006, 600 more dunums of land were confiscated as part of the settlement, making it increasingly difficult for farmers to make a living.

Within minutes of gathering at the fence, Israeli soldiers quickly arrived to force the group to leave the area. After ripping off the Palestinian flags that had been placed on the razor wire fence, the soldiers began forcefully pushing the Palestinian organizers off of their own land. The five clearly disorganized soldiers yelled and pushed erratically at the crowd and attempted to arrest an international activist multiple times before giving up when she resisted. Obviously frustrated by their own ineffectiveness and lack of cohesion, the soldiers threw sound bombs and tear gas, injuring 2 journalists. One of the journalists, working for the UK based Reuters news service, sustained serious injury to his eardrum when a sound grenade exploded next to his head. Another, working for DFA, was examined for possible facial fractures after being hit in the face with a club. A third journalist, working for the American news agency Associated Press was arrested during the demonstration.

The Foreign Press Association issued a statement condemning the attacks on the journalists, saying,

“Over the past months journalists covering these events have been harassed, arrested and attacked by the various on site forces before these forces turn their attention to the activists or demonstrators,” the statement read.

“We would appreciate it were the authorities to remind the various forces involved, that open, unhindered coverage of news events is a widely acknowledged part of the essence of democracy.”

“Generally speaking this would not include smashing the face of a clearly marked photographer working for a known and accredited news organization with a stick, or for that matter aiming a stun grenade at the head of a clearly marked news photographer or summarily arresting cameramen, photographers and/or journalists.”