Journalists slam use of 'press vehicle' by Gaza militants
GAZA CITY, June 10, 2007 (AFP) - The Palestinian journalists' union on Sunday slammed militants for using a jeep that allegedly had press insignia on it during a cross-border raid into Israel.
In the first such operation in nearly a year, Gaza-based militants drove a jeep to the border fence between the coastal strip and Israel, breached it and attacked an army post on the other side. The post was unmanned at the time.
Exchanges of fire with troops sent to the scene left one militant dead in the operation carried out by the radical Islamic Jihad and the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, loosely affiliated with Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas's Fatah party.
The Israeli army, which did not report any injuries, said the white jeep used in the raid was plastered with "TV" and "Press" insignia, and several Israeli dailies published photos of the vehicle.
Islamic Jihad rejected the charges, saying the jeep it used was camouflaged to resemble an army vehicle.
In a statement, the union said: "Using a car with press insignia puts in danger journalists' lives and gives an excuse to occupation forces to target and kill journalists."
"The journalists' union calls on all Palestinian factions and their armed wings to keep journalists out of the conflict, be it with Israeli occupation forces or internal," the union said in a statement.
"We reject the use and the implication of journalists in all conflicts and we demand that everyone stop using such means or the word 'press' in all actions that don't have anything to do with journalism.
"These methods undermine the journalists' freedom to work."
Israel's foreign press association also blasted the use of the jeep as "a grave development," and condemned "those that carried it out."
But a spokesman for the Al-Quds Brigades, Islamic Jihad's armed wing, denied the charges.
"The Al-Quds Brigades used an armoured jeep resembling military armoured jeeps used by the Zionist intelligence services," Abu Ahmed told AFP.
He accused the Israeli army of placing the press markings on the vehicle that the militants abandoned at the border fence before allowing photographers access to the site. No immediate reaction was available from the army.
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