The IDF allows free press coverage for foreign media throughout the West Bank and the Gaza Strip and foreign journalists have full access anywhere in Israel and the territories. Consequently, the IDF is surprised by recent claims of the Committee for the Protection of Journalists (CPJ), that Israeli troops intentionally target journalists in the field.
The IDF’s rules of engagement strictly prohibit its troops from firing at any person who does not directly endanger lives of soldiers or civilians.
On some occasions journalists were shot unintentionally because they positioned themselves in the line of fire between Palestinian gunmen and rioters and Israeli troops in order to obtain a better photograph or due to simple inexperience. It is noteworthy that the CPJ report mentions that “No conclusive evidence exists that the IDF intentionally fired at journalists.” Despite this journalists quoted in the CPJ report invariably place accusations upon Israeli troops whenever a journalist is shot. This ignores the fact that the Palestinians are in possession of over 40,000 rifles – which they use recklessly, firing at any target, something that they have done on over 1,400 occasions over the past six weeks. It is ironic that Palestinians are never considered culprits in incidents where journalists are shot.
Interestingly, the CPJ piece barely refers to the harassment and violent threats of foreign journalists by Palestinians. This is surprising in the face of numerous reports of brutal attacks and threats to the life of journalists who cover events inside the Palestinian Authority. Indeed, several journalists have fled Israel due to fear of Palestinian reprisals for “unfavorable reporting”. A prominent example is Riccardo Cristiano, the former Italian RAI bureau chief in Israel, who wrote a letter denying that he had filmed the brutal lynching of two Israeli soldiers in Ramallah and apologizing for his coverage of the Palestinian Authority. Curiously, Cristiano, whose own behavior was widely criticized by his colleagues and who was later fired by his own network, is mentioned as a victim of Israeli “security policy” in the report.
The IDF will continue to allow free foreign media coverage in the territories, and hopes that the foreign journalists will act prudently, and report objectively.