The Israeli police briefly detained Washington Post’s Jerusalem bureau chief William Booth and reporter Sufian Taha on Tuesday afternoon.
The two journalists, who have government-issued press cards, were detained while interviewing residents of the Old City at the Damascus gate, in East Jerusalem. They were reporting on the recent wave of violence gripping the West Bank and Israel for the Washington Post.
“When Booth and Taha tried to interview some high-school students on the steps opposite the gate, police waved them away. They then retreated to interview the teenagers under a tree,” said the Israeli Foreign Press Association, in a statement condemning the detention.
Israeli police took the journalists to a nearby police station where they were held for about 40 minutes for alleged “incitement.” Israeli police spokesperson Micky Rosenfeld confirmed the two journalists were detained and questioned. He stated that “security measures” were taking place around Damascus Gate following recent attacks there.
The Foreign Press Association protested against the “absurd” accusation. “It comes in the context of heavy-handed tactics – including violent attacks – deployed in recent months by border police against foreign journalists and their Palestinian co-workers covering the unrest in Jerusalem and the West Bank,” the association noted.
Earlier this month, the Foreign Press Agency expressed dismay after being summoned to a subcommittee hearing in the Israeli parliament.
The committee was called to discuss foreign press coverage that, “erodes the legitimacy of [Israel’s] fight against terrorism,” following accusations of anti-Israel bias in coverage of the past months of violence between Israel and Palestinians.
“We do not agree that the foreign media are biased,” the association stated. “The legitimacy of Israel’s campaign against terrorism is entirely determined by how Israel conducts that campaign. It has nothing to do with the foreign media.”
Israel’s Government Press Office announced earlier this month it was considering revoking press cards from journalists over “negligent” reporting of terror attacks.[Source: Palestine Monitor]