Israeli Army Accused of "Deliberately Targeting" Journalists

According to the Foreign Press Association, the Israeli military has intentionally targeted journalists at least ten times over the past two years. The most recent incident occurred on Friday, when the Israeli army allegedly fired rubber bullets and stun grenades at clearly-identified photojournalists covering a skirmish between the Israeli military and Palestinian protestors.

The FPA, a Tel Aviv-based organization that represents hundreds of foreign journalists, released a statement on Sunday.

"On Friday afternoon, Israeli forces threw stun grenades at FPA photojournalists as they were leaving Qalandia" the statement said. "The FPA members had put their hands in the air, indicating to the forces that they were leaving at which point the grenades were thrown from close quarters directly at their backs."

An Italian photographer was nearly killed when an Israeli soldier fired a ruber bullet at his head, according to the FPA. "Fortunately the photographer was taking pictures at the time and the rubber bullet shattered the camera instead of his head," the FPA said.

Marco Longari, the chief photographer for Agence France-Presse, which is represented by the FPA, said the photographers were wearing jackets clearly identifying them as press and standing 20 meters from the Palestinian protestors. From the Telegraph:

"Usually they shoot at the legs, but this was at eye level," said Longari, pointing out that the photographers had walked past in full view of the soldiers before taking up their position under the shelter.

"The bullet hit the upper part of the camera casing – if he hadn't been taking a picture, he would have been killed," he said of the Italian freelancer.

"We showed the camera to the commander and he laughed and said it was a mistake, but you don't shoot by mistake at eye-level."

The Israeli Defense Force has denied any intentional targeting of journalists, saying in a statement that during the confrontation, "photojournalists were sighted adjacent to and in the midst of the rioters, putting themselves at risk."

This is the tenth time the FPA has issued similar complaints. "As far as we know, just two investigations have been launched, with no results. The others have been ignored," the agency said.

[Image via AP]