Photo : Wafa news agency
Brussels, 11th December 2018 – The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has backed condemnations by its affiliate, the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate (PJS) of a raid by Israeli of the offices of the Palestinian news agency Wafa, on 10 December. The organizations demand the release of all Palestinian journalists jailed by Israel and the end of persecutions of Palestinian journalists.
According to media reports, low-intensity confrontations broke out during the evening of Monday 10 December, in several parts of the city of Ramallah. It included confrontations just in front of the Wafa offices.
A group of Israeli soldiers invaded the headquarters of Wafa, with no clear reason or justification.
According to Khuloud Assaf, Wafa Chief Editor, PJS board member and a member of the IFJ’s Gender Council steering committee: “the occupation soldiers broke into the agency’s server room and seized video tapes of the surveillance cameras after confining the staff in one room” and “used the windows and balconies of the news agency to fire tear gas, sound bombs, and rubber-coated steel bullets against Palestinian demonstrators and passers-by in the area”.
She added that the Israeli forces “fired a sound bomb inside the fourth floor of the agency building to terrify the journalists and tear gas bombs at the balcony of the editorial room on the second floor, causing suffocation and breathing difficulties among the journalists who were inside the building”, after they had locked down the offices and verified the identity of all journalists.
The Palestinian Journalists Syndicate published a statement calling on all international organizations to condemn the raid and demand justice :
“The Syndicate considers the raid a new crime against the Palestinian media, and a clear violation of international law that is part of the systematic and continuous crimes and violations against Palestinian journalists and media organizations.”
The PJS also condemned the arrest on the same day of two journalists from their houses by Israeli forces in the West Bank. Husain Shujaiya, working at the media department of Jerusalem Legal Aid and Human Rights Centre, was detained for a few hours while working in Hebron city and Samih Manasra, working as a reporter for Jerusalem Radio, was arrested in his house.
Anthony Bellanger, IFJ General Secretary said :
“We condemn this reckless act of the Israeli army which endangered the lives of Palestinian journalists working in their newsroom. Those responsible for ordering this raid must be held accountable. This new attack on press freedom and journalists in Palestine from Israeli forces is unacceptable. The violent intrusion and forfeiture of journalists’ equipment cannot be justified. We demand the immediate end of violence against Palestinian media, the release of the two journalists arrested on Monday and of all Palestinian journalists jailed by Israel.”