A Palestinian media rights group has accused Israeli forces of targeting journalists as tensions and violence have risen across the region, Al Jazeera English reported. The Palestinian Center for Media Freedom and Development has reportedly recorded seven attacks on members of the press since the beginning of October.
"Israeli occupation forces are both directly and indirectly targeting journalists," Mousa Rimawi, director of the media freedom group, told Al Jazeera. "Some have been deliberately beaten by soldiers, some were shot and others were [injured] while covering the clashes when the soldiers fired [stun grenades and gas bombs] indiscriminately."
The Al Jazeera article includes interviews with several Palestinian journalists who said they were targeted by Israeli soldiers. One individual, Muhammad Sayyad, said he was badly bruised as Israeli forces beat him for at least 10 minutes near the al-Aqsa mosque, where regular protests have been held, until he was able to break free. He said he believed the soldiers were aware he was a journalist. "As they hit me, they were cursing at me and threatening me," he said.
An Israeli spokesman, Major Arye Shalicar, denied the allegations that Israeli forces were targeting journalists. "If a journalist is in the middle of a violent demonstration with dozens or hundreds of rioters throwing rocks or Molotov cocktails, it could be a little bit dangerous," he told Al Jazeera.
Five killed in Gaza as Israeli-Palestinian violence widens http://t.co/pf0TNrmHUh
— Reuters Top News (@Reuters) October 9, 2015
2 Israelis stabbed, Palestinian assailant killed near Hebron http://t.co/OKt19CtVX4
— JTA | Jewish news (@JTAnews) October 9, 2015
A Palestinian woman was shot after stabbing an Israeli man in Jerusalem's Old City http://t.co/fHgjscJD68
— TIME.com (@TIME) October 7, 2015
The allegations come as the region has seen a sharp rise in unrest in recent days. Months-long clashes around the al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem have spread across Israel and the West Bank, as Israelis have been targeted in a string of knife attacks. Hundreds of Palestinians have been injured in clashes with Israeli forces, as Palestinians protest Israeli policies toward fellow Palestinians and recent restrictions placed on the al-Aqsa mosque. Hamas, the Islamist political faction that rules Gaza, said Friday they were ready for a confrontation with Israel, as they called for an escalated uprising, known as an "intifada."
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has come under heavy scrutiny for his inability to stem the conflict and has vowed to wage an aggressive campaign against terror.