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Israel Forbids Reporting From Ramallah

BY Admin  April 2, 2002 at 12:00 PM EDT

The move comes as the Israeli government, broadening its incursion into Palestinian-held territory, ratcheted up its enforcement of reporting restrictions in the volatile West Bank region.

“If [the two networks] do not stop violating Israeli law, the state of Israel will be compelled to take the steps to which it is obliged by law,” a press office statement said.

Israel declared Ramallah a closed zone Friday, but journalists were able to get into the city as late as Sunday morning, the Associated Press reports.

The government press office released a statement declaring foreign citizens, including the media, would be removed if they entered the closed areas.

“Members of the media are advised that their presence in the closed zone is at their own risk,” the statement said.

The networks released no immediate comment, but the International Federation of Journalists told the Associated Press closing Ramallah to the media “amounts to censorship and will be self-defeating.”

Also Tuesday, Israel revoked the press cards of two Abu Dhabi TV journalists accused of broadcasting “crude anti-Israel propaganda,” a government press statement said.

The reporting credentials of Leileh Odeh and Bassam Asawi were revoked after a March 31 story the satellite TV network broadcast claimed Israeli troops had executed a group of young men in Ramallah.

The reports gave “a false depiction of what was happening on the ground” and did not meet “even the most minimal standards of a fair press”, the statement said.

Abu Dhabi Television said the move was part of “a continuation of the harassment and aggression targeting journalists of different nationalities,” and vowed to continue its coverage “with credibility and objectivity,” Agence France Presse reported.

Israeli officials also removed a CBS News crew from Ramallah Monday, sparking protest from the Foreign Press Association in Israel.

A dangerous assignment

Meanwhile, reporters in the West Bank continue to face dangers as violence continued between Israel and the Palestinians.

Israeli authorities warned foreign journalists were at risk in Ramallah after Boston Globe reporter Anthony Shadid was shot in the shoulder near Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat’s compound Sunday.

Shadid, who was evacuated to Jerusalem Monday with Globe colleague Said Ghazali, said he believed the bullet that struck him was fired by an Israeli soldier.

The area was under “total Israeli military control and had been for days,” Shadid told the Globe. “It is difficult to imagine that a Palestinian gunman could have made it in the area for that long.”

Captain Jacob Dellal, a spokesman for the Israeli Defense Forces, told the Globe he did not believe Shadid was injured by Israeli troops, and said if Shadid “feels he was possible hit by Israeli fire, he should feel free to lodge a complaint, and we will certainly investigate.”

NBC reporter Dana Lewis dodged bullets twice on Monday, telling the New York Daily News an Israeli soldier opened fire on his car even though it had “Television” painted on it, signifying reporters were inside.

Also Monday, CBS anchor Dan Rather and two network producers barely missed potential injury in a suicide car bombing at a Jerusalem security checkpoint that killed a policeman. A CBS spokesman told the AP Rather and his crew returned to the checkpoint after hearing the bomb explode.