BETHLEHEM, West Bank – A French cameraman was shot and wounded Tuesday at the entrance to a refugee camp in the northern West Bank, fellow reporters said. In Bethlehem, Israeli soldiers confiscated the videotapes of two foreign journalists.
The shooting and confiscation were among several incidents Tuesday involving journalists in the West Bank, where Israel launched its offensive March 29 after a series of Palestinian suicide bombings on Israeli citizens. The Israeli military has banned reporters from areas under its control, but the ban is not consistently enforced.
Six groups representing journalists — the local Foreign Press Association and five international bodies — issued a joint statement Tuesday calling on the Israeli government to lift the ban on reporters, calling it "excessive, unjustifiable and utterly counterproductive." The groups also appealed to "all the Palestinian factions to cease efforts to confiscate materials or intimidate journalists."
French cameraman Gilles Jacquier, a cameraman for France 2 television, became the third journalist shot and wounded since Israel began its incursion. Jacquier could not tell who shot him, his colleagues said.
Jacquier was traveling with a large group of journalists when he was hit by a bullet as he stepped out of his car at the entrance to el-Ain refugee camp near the city of Nablus. He fell to the ground, saying that he had been shot, said Associated Press Television News cameraman Nazeeh Darwazeh, who witnessed the scene.
Jacquier was wearing a flak jacket at the time, but the bullet penetrated his collarbone. Doctors displayed the small bullet that was removed from his body and said it came from either a handgun or an Uzi submachine gun. The Israeli-made weapon is no longer used by field units.
The Israeli military said it coordinated with Palestinians to evacuate Jacquier. He was reported to be in a stable condition.
In Bethlehem, Yuzuru Saito, a reporter with TV Tokyo, said soldiers stopped him as he walked with a cameraman in the narrow alleyways of the old city. The soldiers removed the tape from the camera. "Then he asked us to leave. He said 'You have one minute, if you don't we will shoot,' and we left." Saito told The Associated Press.
Also in Bethlehem, French cameraman Vincent Benhamou said he was interviewing families in their homes. When he left one house, he came face to face with Israeli soldiers. He said the soldiers were abusive and threatening.
The soldiers took his tape. "They pointed their weapons at me, they took the tape and asked me to leave immediately. I started walking away then I heard two single shots in the air," he said.
The Israeli military had no immediate comment on the incidents, but noted that journalists were not allowed in Bethlehem. Several days ago the Israeli military declared the town a closed military zone and banned reporters.
Also in Bethlehem, Givara Budeiri, a reporter for the Arabic satellite TV channel Al-Jazeera, said she tried to leave Bethlehem because of illness, but Israeli soldiers at a checkpoint barred her car from leaving and fired at the ground. The army said it was looking into the incident.