26 September 1997


Authorities refuse to grant press cards to journalists from "Challenge" and "Al-Sabar" magazines; Palestinian journalist harassed and assaulted by Israeli soldier

Incident details



(CPJ/IFEX) - On 16 February 1997, the Governmental Press Office
(GPO) informed the English-language bi-monthly magazine
"Challenge" and its sister publication, the bi-weekly
Arabic-language magazine "Al-Sabar", that their request for seven
press cards for staff reporters, filed in December 1996, was
denied. Among the reasons cited by the GPO for its decision was
the fact that some of the journalists who had applied for the
documents had been convicted in 1989 of membership in a hostile
organization - the Democratic Front for the Liberation of
Palestine - and that they oppose the Israeli-Palestinian peace
process outlined in the Oslo accords. The GPO also noted state
security concerns for denying the accreditation. "Challenge" has
since reported that the GPO's decision to deny press cards to the
journalists came as the result of a directive from Israel's
General Security Services (GSS), according to comments made by
GPO head Moshe Fogel.

Officials from "Challenge" claim that, since Palestinian
self-rule was instituted in 1994, none of their journalists has
been permitted to enter the Gaza Strip because they lacked
government press credentials.

In an unrelated development, Israeli Defense Forces (IDF)
prevented a Palestinian journalist from entering a Jewish enclave
in the town of Hebron. On 19 September, Nasser Shiyoukhi, a
reporter for the Associated Press (AP) news agency, was told by
an IDF soldier that he could not enter the area because he is an
Arab. According to AP, the soldier told two of Shiyoukhi's
colleagues, who were travelling with him at the time, that the
three journalists could not park their car in an area near the
enclave "because you've got an Arab in the car." After Shiyoukhi
attempted to show the soldier his press card and explain that he
was a journalist, the soldier punched him in the head, knocking
him to the ground. Shiyoukhi later filed a complaint with the
police, at the behest of Israeli border guards who had witnessed
the incident. Thus far, he has received no word on the progress
of his complaint.

Recommended Action

Send appeals to authorities:

  • calling these recent actions committed by the GPO and the IDF as
    flagrant violations of Article 19 of the Universal Declaration on
    Human Rights and Article 19 of the International Covenant on
    Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Israel is a state
    party (The ICCPR guarantees journalists the "freedom to seek,
    receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless
    of frontiers")
  • indicating that press cards are essential for Israeli
    journalists to obtain access to areas in the West Bank and Gaza
    Strip under the control of the Palestinian Authority (PA)
  • calling on them to order the responsible authorities within the
    GPO to grant government press cards to journalists from
    "Challenge" and "Al-Sabar"
  • further calling on them to instruct the proper authorities
    within the IDF and the Justice Ministry to initiate an immediate
    and vigorous investigation into the assault and harassment of
    Nasser Shiyoukhi and make its findings public

    Appeals To

    His Excellency Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
    Office of the Prime Minister
    3 Kaplan Street
    Jerusalem 91007, Israel
    Fax: +972 2 664 838 / 697 7839 / 3 691 7915

    Government Press Office
    Fax: +972 2 244 448 / 233 386

    David Valilan
    Government press spokesman
    Jerusalem, Israel
    Fax: +972 2 664 838

    Copies to:

    the Israeli diplomatic representative to your country

    Israeli Television
    Fax: +972 2 301 452

    Please copy appeals to the source if possible.

  • Source

    Committee to Protect Journalists
    330 7th Ave., 11th Floor
    New York, NY 10001
    info (@) cpj.org
    Fax:+1 212 4659568
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