Israel removes officer after assault on AFP team

GMT 16:19 2015 Thursday ,01 October

Arab Today, arab today Israel removes officer after assault on AFP team

Israeli soldiers patrol a street in the West Bank
Jerusalem - AFP

Israel's military on Thursday removed from duty an officer in charge when two AFP journalists were assaulted by soldiers while covering clashes in the occupied West Bank, the army said.

The decision means the officer will no longer be deployed in the field and will be assigned to other tasks, a military spokesman told AFP.

Investigations into the September 25 incident are continuing.

The officer "did not act in accordance with ethical rules", the spokesman said.

He had already been suspended from duty the day after the incident, which the military classed as "grave".

Italian videographer Andrea Bernardi and Palestinian photographer Abbas Momani were covering clashes between Palestinians and Israeli soldiers in Beit Furik near Nablus after a funeral when they were assaulted.

Soldiers threatened them with their weapons while also hitting and shoving them.

Bernardi was thrown to the ground and held there with a knee against his chest and a gun pointed at his face until he managed to show his press card.

The journalists were clearly identifiable by their equipment as well as by their body armour displaying the word "Press".

They had previously been authorised to enter the area.

The soldiers also smashed a video camera and a stills camera, and took away another stills camera and a mobile phone.

Damaged equipment has since been returned to AFP.

The incident was filmed and posted online by a local production company.

AFP and the Foreign Press Association in Israel and the Palestinian Territories have strongly condemned the assault.

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