The Reuters news agency is claiming that IDF
soldiers punched two of its cameramen and forced them to strip in the street, before letting off a tear gas canister in front of them. One of the photographers reportedly required hospital treatment.
“The regional brigade commander was ordered to open an investigation,” Israeli Defense Forces spokeswoman Avital Leibovich said in an email.
Yousri Al Jamal and Ma’amoun Wazwaz said a foot patrol stopped them as they were driving to a nearby checkpoint where a Palestinian teenager had been shot
dead by an Israeli border guard.
According to the report, their car was clearly marked ‘TV’ and both were wearing blue flak jackets with ‘Press’ emblazoned on the front.
The two claim that the soldiers forced them to leave the vehicle and punched them, striking them with the butts of their guns. The troops accused them of working for an Israeli NGO, B’Tselem,
which documents human rights violations in the West Bank, the Reuters cameramen said.
The soldiers did not let the men produce their official ID papers and forced them to strip down to their underwear, making them kneel on the road with their hands behind their heads, the cameramen claim.
According to the report, two other Palestinian journalists working for local news organizations, including a satellite television station affiliated to Hamas, were also stopped and forced to the ground.
The photographers further claimed that one of the soldiers then dropped a tear gas canister between the men and the IDF patrol ran away. The four journalists scrambled clear and Jamal and Wazwaz got to their car, which had rapidly filled up with tear gas.
They tried to drive away, but said they only got around 200 meters before they had to stop and exit the vehicle because of the choking gas. The soldiers then fired more tear gas in their direction.
Wazwaz was taken to hospital by ambulance and released later the same night.
The cameramen claim that the soldiers took two gas masks and a video camera from their car. The undamaged camera was later found abandoned further up the road.
“We deplore the mistreatment of our journalists and have registered our extreme dismay with the Israeli military authorities,” said Stephen J. Adler, editor-in-chief of Reuters News.