Israel-Hamas truce: Israeli forces attack Palestinian journalists with tear gas near Ofer during prisoner release
Israeli forces have assaulted Palestinian journalists in Ramallah while covering Israel’s release of Palestinian prisoners as part of the Hamas-Israel truce and prisoners’ exchange deal, drawing outrage and condemnations amid accusations Israel is deliberately targeting Arab journalists.
Israeli forces dispersed Palestinians with tear gas and rubber and live bullets, wounding 21 according to the Palestinian Red Crescent Society, as Palestinians and journalists gathered outside the Israeli Ofer detention centre near the town of Beitunia in Ramallah on Sunday, in expectation of the released prisoners.
Palestinian TV crews, placed on rooftops in the vicinity of the Ofer detention centre, were also targeted with tear gas canisters and rubber bullets, including Al-Araby TV reporter Fadi Al-Assa.
BREAKING: #Palestinian photojournalist Raed Al-Helo was injured by a rubber bullet while other other journalists suffered from suffocation after Israeli forces suppressed media crews and residents in Beitunia, west of the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah. pic.twitter.com/LFKwaSmrgz— Wafa News Agency - English (@WAFANewsEnglish) November 26, 2023
“The Al-Araby cameraman, another reporter and I were stationed on a rooftop in Beitunia”, Fadi Al-Assa told The New Arab. “We were in the town of Beitunia, not at the Ofer prison, but it just happens that the prison is so close to the town”, he added.
“Occupation forces were shooting tear gas at the crowds, but then they began to shoot tear gas towards us, and there was so much tear gas that we took cover behind the door that goes into the house staircase”, he said.
“An occupation drone flew right above us, and they could see very clearly that we were journalists, clearly marked as such and holding our cameras”, pointed out Al-Assa.
“After that, occupation soldiers entered the house we were at and reached to us on the rooftop”, he said. “They searched us and confiscated the memory card of Al-Araby’s cameraman and forced us to leave at gunpoint, so we asked them to tell their fellow soldiers that we were coming out and that we were journalists, but they just kept telling us to leave”, he continued.
“We walked through the streets of Beitunia with our hands in the air, realising that the occupation army had raided Beitunia and the streets smelled like tear gas”, he added.
Israeli forces have violently dispersed Palestinians near the Ofer prison for the past three days since the prisoner exchange between Hamas and Israel began to be implemented.
🚨🇮🇱 ISRAELIS are firing TEAR GAS & LIVE ROUNDS at PALESTINIANS waiting for their children to be released from prison in the West Bank.— Jackson Hinkle 🇺🇸 (@jacksonhinklle) November 26, 2023
This is the second day in a row they have done this. pic.twitter.com/II1kSQh4uj
As of Monday, Israel has released 117 Palestinian women and minors. Hamas, on its part, has released 49 Israeli women and minors and some 20 hostages from other nationalities. As both sides have confirmed the ongoing of the last part of the exchange on Tuesday, the truce will be extended for an additional two days.
Since 7 October, Israel has killed at least 14800 Palestinians in Gaza including 6000 children, and more than 200 in the West Bank, including 53 journalists and members of the media.