Saturday, May 03, 2014

Israel: Israeli Minister of Internal Security warned of harassment of journalists


In the wake of the attack on our colleague, photojournalist Zuheir Mata, I'lam Media Center sent a message to Yitzhak Aharonovich, Minister of Internal Security, warning him of maltreatment against journalists and urging him to follow-up and investigate the case.

Mata's camera was damaged on 27 April 2014 in the destroyed Arab village of al-Bassa. He was documenting a baptism ceremony held in the village's Greek Orthodox Church, one of the few pre-1948 buildings left standing.

Writing to Aharonovich, I'lam noted the seriousness of the racially motivated incident: In addition to physical abuse, the attack defies freedom of the press, freedom of expression and the public's right to information.

The altercation occurred when residents from Shlomi, the Jewish town built over parts of al-Bassa, aggressively drove towards the ceremony honking, eventually confronting the group.

In an interview with a colleague, Mata noted that he “has encountered many manifestations of racism, but did not expect this to happen to me personally.”

Describing the event he said, “while photographing in the Church, I was surprised by a woman who seemed to be on the attack heading towards me. She cracked my camera and pushed me.”

Mata, who has filed a police complaint against his attacker, said that she was accompanied by a group of religious Jews who were “demonstrating against our right to pray in the church,” cursing and calling worshippers “Christian killers” among other slurs.