The IDF will not be changing its policies toward journalists covering demonstrations, the army said, despite a stabbing attack Friday on a soldier by a Palestinian man disguised as a member of the press.
The Palestinian attacker, wearing a yellow vest and a black T-shirt emblazoned with the word “PRESS,” moderately wounded the soldier before being shot dead by forces on the scene.
However, according to the IDF, the tenuous relationship between the army and foreign, Palestinian and Israeli journalists will hold.
“There will be no change in the behavior of the IDF toward the press,” the army told The Times of Israel on Sunday. “It is being treating as an exceptional incident.”
Press organizations feared the attack could lead to a crackdown against members of the media. Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon even said Saturday that the impostor had created a new security challenge.
“Until now, journalists were taken at face value and now we see that Palestinian terrorists do not hesitate to disguise themselves as journalists, and [so] we will have to be more cautious,” he said.
Groups representing journalists, including the Foreign Press Association, quickly denounced the attack on Friday and called for a full internal investigation of the event, as the impostor’s actions could further endanger reporters, photographers and camera operators in the field.
“We utterly deplore this violation of press privilege and call on local Palestinian media organizations to immediately verify all media credentials to ensure there are no violations,” the statement said.
The Palestinian journalists’ association reiterated the FPA’s statement, saying anyone posing as a journalist increases the risks faced by those covering the current violence.
“Everybody is worried that it will be open season on reporters,” said Glenys Sugarman, executive director of the FPA, which represents journalists who work for international news outlets and cover Israel, the West Bank and Gaza.
The IDF had a very public clash with the press last month, when an officer and his soldiers were filmed attacking an AFP camera crew, assaulting them and destroying their equipment. In response, the army removed the officer from his post.
Times of Israel staff and the Associated Press contributed to this report.