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July 02, 2009

Forces at West Bank Checkpoint Erase Al Jazeera Footage

Troops stopped an Al Jazeera camera crew at a West Bank checkpoint and erased footage about alleged torture of prisoners. Didn't hear about it? Read why from Khaled Abu Toameh:

Recently, a Palestinian TV crew was stopped at a checkpoint in the West Bank, where soldiers confiscated a tape and erased its content. This incident hardly received any coverage in the mainstream media in the US and Europe.

The reason? The perpetrators were not IDF soldiers, but Palestinian Authority security officers. And the checkpoint did not belong to the IDF; it was, in fact, a Palestinian checkpoint.

The story of the detention of the TV crew -- which, by the way, belonged to Al-Jazeera and the erasure of the footage did not make it to the mainstream media even after Reporters Without Borders, an organization that defends journalists worldwide, issued a statement strongly condemning the assault on the freedom of the media.

"Journalists must be able to work freely," Reporters Without Borders said. "The erasure of this video footage proves that the Palestinian security forces try to cover up their human rights violations. This incident should be the subject of an enquiry by the Palestinian Authority."

Walid Omari, the head of the Qatar-based satellite TV station's operations in the West Bank, told Reporters Without Borders that his crew was preparing a report on the death of a detainee at the Palestinian Authority detention center in Hebron that might have been the result of torture.

"We were the only ones to investigate this case and we did it despite strong pressure from the Palestinian Authority," Omari said. . .

One can only imagine the international media's reaction had the TV crew been detained by Israeli security forces. Anti-Israel groups and individuals would have cited the incident as further proof of the "occupation's brutal measures" against the freedom of the media.

Moreover, it is highly likely that Israeli human rights organizations like Betselem would have dispatched researchers to the field to investigate the incident had IDF soldiers been involved.

Yet foreign journalists and human rights activists working in Israel and the Palestinian territories either chose to ignore the story or never heard about it simply because it was lacking in an anti-Israel angle.

One can also imagine how the media and human rights organizations would have reacted had a Palestinian died in Israeli prison after allegedly being tortured.

Here is the report from Reporters Without Borders.

Posted by TS at July 2, 2009 04:33 AM


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