The Palestinian photojournalist Mohammed Othman was seriously wounded by gunfire from an Israeli soldier last year near the Beit Hanoun (Erez) border crossing while covering clashes between Palestinian youths and Israeli troops on 15 May, the anniversary of the creation of Israel, which is marked by Palestinians as “Nakba Day” (Day of Disaster). He was partially paralysed and is undergoing rehabilitation in Turkey.
Although the armed forces carry out some investigations, the abuses committed by soldiers rarely lead to a prosecution. Such was the case with the Israeli photographer Mati Milstein, who filed complaints against the army’s Alexandroni brigade after he and other photojournalists were the target of an attack by soldiers on the outskirts of the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh last July. He was received a response from the army in December, saying the soldiers responded appropriately to what it considered a “violent and illegal demonstration”. The letter was clearly a stonewalling exercise.
The IDF carried out numerous raids on Palestinian news organizations in the West Bank, which is controlled by the Palestinian Authority, on the pretext that they did not have the required licenses. Many Palestinian media workers were arrested and at least seven are still in custody.
The treatment of foreign journalists aboard the Gaza aid flotillas when they were raided by Israeli commandos was particularly shocking. In August last year, Israeli authorities banned passengers and journalists from boarding a new convoy. Last November, five journalists on board the latest flotilla were arrested, together with 22 other passengers. Four were immediately expelled but the fifth, a correspondent for the Iranian English-language television station Press TV, was held for more than a week.