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BBC says news crew assaulted by Israeli police

The reporters were held at gunpoint while police searched their vehicle.

The reporters were held at gunpoint while police searched their vehicle.

Israeli police search a vehicle marked "TV" that was used by a news crew from BBC Arabic. (Photo courtesy BBC News)
Israeli police search a vehicle marked “TV” that was used by a news crew from BBC Arabic. (Photo courtesy BBC News)

Journalists working for the BBC were assaulted and held at gunpoint by Israeli police while covering news in Tel Aviv on Friday, the news organization said.

The journalists were in a vehicle marked “TV” and carrying press identification cards when they were stopped late Friday evening.

Israeli police reportedly dragged the reporters from their vehicle and proceeded to search the truck. A photograph published by the BBC showed the letters “TV” on the rear of the vehicle.

The BBC identified two of its reporters as Muhannad Tutunji and Haitham Abudiab. The rest of their team were not named.

An officer reportedly struck Tutunji on the neck as he tried to film the scene using his cell phone, the BBC said. Police told the journalists they would be shot if they did not remain still while officers searched their car, the outlet said.

A spokesperson for the BBC said they were in contact with Israeli police, and reaffirmed their position that journalists should be able to report freely from within the country.

“One of our BBC News Arabic teams deployed in Tel Aviv, in a vehicle clearly marked as media, was stopped and assaulted last night by Israeli police,” the spokesperson said on Friday. “Journalists must be able to report on the conflict in Israel-Gaza freely.”

The incident happened hours after an Israeli-fired mortar fell near a group of international journalists who were covering the news near the Israeli-Lebanon border.

The explosion killed Reuters cameraman Issam Abdallah and injured two others working for the news outlet, which Reuters identified as Thaer Al-Sudani and Maher Nazeh.

Al Jazeera said its journalists, Elie Brakhya and Carmen Joukhadar, were also hurt, as were two photographers working for Agence France-Presse.

Reporters and photographers from international news agencies have been covering the ongoing conflict in Israel since Hamas militants crossed from the Gaza Strip into the southern portion of the country as part of a coordinated terrorist attack last Saturday.

Israel responded with an aerial bombardment within Gaza that has killed more than 1,400 people as of Friday, the BBC reported.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is the publisher of The Desk and reports on the business and policy matters involving the broadcast television, streaming video and radio industries. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, Disney-ABC, Tribune Broadcasting and McNaughton Newspapers. Matthew is based in Northern California, has won numerous awards in the field of journalism, and is a member of IRE (Investigative Reporters and Editors).