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‘Cameramen, press photographers and reporters were mistreated’

Published Friday 11/06/2010 (updated) 12/06/2010 01:27

Bethlehem – Ma’an – Reporters Without Borders continues to deplore the Israeli military’s use of video footage seized from journalists during its raid on the Gaza-bound humanitarian flotilla on 31 May.

Several video sequences have been posted by the Israel Defense Forces on YouTube, where they are described as “video taken on the Gaza flotilla.” The seizure and use of video without permission from the news media concerned constitute a serious violation of journalistic ethics, Reporters Without Borders maintains.

What follows is a transcript of a Reporters Without Borders interview with Muna Shester of the Kuwait News Agency (KUNA), who was aboard the flotilla. He is now back in Kuwait, where he was reached by telephone:

What happened during the raid?

The men were on the deck of the boat and the women were below. The attack began on the deck. The KUNA photographer, Ali Abou Hamad, took photos of the raid. He was not attacked. Very quickly, there was panic and confusion. Cameramen, press photographers and reporters were mistreated because they were filming or taking photos of the raid. I remember a photographer who spoke up, criticising the soldiers. He was taken to one side and beaten. I could hear his cries.

Were you identified as journalists?

The print media were not visually identified. We did not have press vests. But the broadcast media journalists had them. So they were identifiable.

The soldiers then regrouped us on the deck. We were searched and handcuffed, and then we were left in the sun for five hours. We were not allowed to go to the toilet.

Did the soldiers prevent you from working?

Yes, of course. In fact, when we were reassembled on the deck of the boat, we were not allowed to bring our personal effects with us, except passports and money. We no longer had our mobile phones or any way of communicating or filming. They promised to give our things back to us, but they were lying.

How were you treated in the Be’er Scheva detention centre?

We were treated all right. Soldiers gave us food to eat. We were nonetheless anxious about what was going to happen next. I was deported on 2 June, after being held for two days. I was taken by bus to Jordan and then I caught a plane to Kuwait.

Source

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