Saturday June 15, 2024

German journalists 'threatened' by Israeli troops in West Bank

Published : 06 Nov 2023, 20:42

  DF News Desk
The logo of the German broadcasting television network ARD is pictured on the facade of the ARD capital city studio in Berlin's government district. File Photo: Fabian Sommer/dpa.

Israeli soldiers in the West Bank threatened and detained a team of journalists from the German public broadcaster ARD, the network reported on Sunday evening, said dpa.

ARD correspondent Jan-Christoph Kitzler was on his way back from an interview, accompanied by a Palestinian as well as a German network employee, when they were stopped by Israeli soldiers south of Hebron, according to ARD.

The soldiers behaved extremely aggressively towards the journalists and weapons were aimed into the team's vehicle on several occasions, ARD said.

Bavarian Rundfunk, the ARD member station that operates the network's Tel Aviv studio, described the incident as an attack on press freedom.

According to the report, the team of ARD journalists were on their way to report on violence by radical Jewish settlers against Palestinians in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

"The soldiers threatened us with their weapons and asked us if we were Jewish. Our colleague was insulted as a traitor," said Kitzler, the ARD correspondent. He said the situation only eased after more than an hour, once other soldiers and police had been summoned.

"The IDF apologizes for any inconvenience caused," the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) told dpa on Monday in response to questions about the incident.

The IDF said that "the soldiers' actions were examined and protocols were reiterated," although the statement did not specify whether the IDF took issue with those actions or whether protocols were violated.

The Association of Foreign Press in Israel in late October called on the Israeli military to ensure the safety of journalists and complained about two incidents in the West Bank in which soldiers had harassed reporters, including another incident in which ARD journalists were detained for two hours by soldiers while reporting on settler violence near Qawawis.

"This is the second incident in a week for us. Our team clearly identified itself as accredited press representatives and was far away from military security areas," said the head of the ARD's studio in Tel Aviv, Christian Limpert. "We cannot accept the actions of the Israeli military."

Germany calls on Israel to respect press freedom

The German government has called on Israel to respect press freedoms following an incident between Israeli soldiers and team of German journalists reporting in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

"In such a tense situation as we currently find ourselves in, freedom of the press is of course an extremely valuable asset," a spokeswoman for Germany's Foreign Office said on Monday.

She demanded that press representatives on the ground be granted free access for their reporting.

Journalists from German public broadcaster ARD said they were temporarily detained and threatened by Israeli soldiers in the West Bank while reporting on violent attacks against Palestinians by extremist Jewish settlers.

According to ARD, the soldiers behaved extremely aggressively towards the journalists and repeatedly pointed weapons into the reporting team's vehicle.

When asked about the incident on Monday, the Israeli military apologized "for any inconvenience caused."