Palestinian photojournalists, and some Israelis too, say they are being deliberately attacked by soldiers, police and even regular people on the street. The rubber-coated bullets, pepper spray and being denied access on grounds of ethnicity are nothing new, yet veteran Palestinian photographers say something is different this time.
By Oren Ziv / Activestills.org
Following the assault of two Israeli television journalists by civilians in a West Bank settlement last week, a member of Knesset announced that he will propose a law to increase the punishment for anybody who attacks a journalist. Nearly every Israeli media outlet covered the incident, and the national journalists’ association issued a harshly worded condemnation.
For Palestinian photojournalists working in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, however, being the on the receiving end of police and military violence is nothing new. It is commonplace, and it is most often completely ignored by Israeli journalists and politicians alike.
Conversations I’ve had with a large number of Palestinian journalists over the past few weeks, however, point to a new trend: Israeli authorities’ treatment of news photographers has taken a turn for the worse since the latest wave of violence began, and attacks against journalists and photojournalists have increased. Even more worrying, more than 10 Palestinian journalists and photographers told me they feel Israeli authorities are specifically targeting them.
As a photojournalist myself, I have rushed to the scenes of a decent number of violent incidents in Jerusalem over the past month and a half. In all of the cases when attempted attacks against Israelis led to the death of a young Palestinian, usually the attacker, I personally witnessed police officers preventing journalists from doing their jobs. Sometimes it was as simple as denying access to the scene; other times it resulted in physical violence against them.
Deliberate violence against Palestinian photographers was on full display last Friday when a Border Police officer was filmed shooting pepper spray directly at a group of photographers and paramedics — all of whom were wearing clearly marked vests identifying them as such. The incident (pictured below), which took place near the northern entrance of the West Bank city of Ramallah, happened after a Border Police jeep chased down and ran over a young Palestinian, whom the Border Police officers claimed threw a Molotov cocktail at them.
Trying to control the narrative?
I asked a group...Read More