Israel journalist union backs international calls for Gaza flotilla inquiry

Aidan White

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), with the backing of its affiliate in Israel, today called for a special inquiry into the killing of a journalist and injuries to others during the Israeli assault on a flotilla of ships carrying humanitarian aid which took place on June 1.

“We now know that one journalist died and at least one other is seriously injured in horrifying circumstances that remain unexplained,” said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary.

“We are also gathering information about the treatment of journalists and the confiscation of their material, all of which raises new concerns about the violations of their rights.”

The IFJ says that a specific inquiry into the treatment of journalists is required because around 100 of the people detained by the Israeli authorities were thought to be journalists from across the globe including Australia, Algeria, Jordan, Turkey, Greece, the UK, Italy, Iran, Germany, South Africa, Indonesia, Malaysia ,Pakistan and UAE.

Working with Israeli affiliate

Earlier the IFJ had thanked the Israeli journalist union for their campaign to have all journalists detained by Israel to be released immediately.

“We are grateful for the tremendous efforts being made by leaders of the National Federation of Israeli Journalists to defend the rights of working professionals who have been caught up in this series of tragic events,” added White.

“We will continue to work with our Israeli affiliate and others who have expressed concern about the detention of their journalists and media staff.”

Media victims - unions compiling information

The media victims are Turkish journalist Cevdet Kılıçlar, killed by a shot in the head, and Indonesian cameraman Sura Fachrizaz who was shot in the chest and seriously injured. Fachrizaz is in a hospital in Haifa and his injuries are not considered life threatening.

The IFJ is in touch with reporters involved as well as a number of unions representing media staff and is compiling information on material that has been confiscated by the Israeli authorities.

Marcello Faraggi, a journalist who was on board the Mediterranean Sea, a cargo ship which was part of the aid convoy and was later detained in the Israeli prison of Bersheva, told the IFJ that journalists were subjected to body search and stripped of their equipment during their detention.

A special information collection point has been established to prepare a dossier on the incident which will form the basis of journalists’ claims for compensation in the aftermath.

Israel journalist union should be involved in inquiry

The IFJ affiliate in Israel, the National Federation of Israel Journalists (NFIJ), which has been assisting journalists and gathering information, should also be involved in any inquiry into the treatment of journalists, says the IFJ.

The NFIJ section in Jerusalem, the Journalists Association in Jerusalem, has specifically urged the Israeli government to give back immediately all the equipment that was confiscated from the journalists on the boats. “Journalists on duty should be left out of any confrontation and should have the full freedom to cover the events in a professional way,” they said in a statement.

Allegations about misuse of journalist’s material

Further concerns have been raised about the broadcasting by Israeli authorities of material confiscated from journalists which is being used to project their version of events.

“This is shocking disregard for the rights of journalists,” said White. The confiscation and then unauthorized use of journalists’ footage shows the contempt that the Israeli authorities have for journalism.”