The Associated Press, the largest news-gathering organization in the world, has filed an official complaint with the Palestinian Authority after a free-lance cameraman was threatened for filming Arabs celebrating the terror attacks in the U.S.
While reports from Reuters, Agence France-Presse and other print news agencies showed Arabs jubilantly celebrating the attacks Tuesday in Lebanon, Egypt and in Arafat’s Palestinian territories, few photos and little video footage was available in the West.
In addition, there are reports some international news agencies are refraining from broadcasting film showing Arabs, including members of Arafat’s security forces, celebrating as a result of threats and warnings issued by Palestinian Authority officials.
According to the AP, a videographer on assignment for Associated Press Television News, was “summoned to a Palestinian Authority security office and told that the material must not be aired.” Tanzim militia members reportedly called and warned the free-lancer that he would be held responsible if the footage was shown and made what he interpreted as threats on his life.
Palestinian children celebrate the attack on the U.S.
Arafat aide Ahmed Abdel Rahman reportedly told AP representatives in Jerusalem that the Palestinian Authority “cannot guarantee the life” of the cameraman if the footage was broadcast.
AP and Reuters have reported on Palestinian celebrations but have limited their coverage to a small number of still pictures and videotape of rallies in East Jerusalem and Lebanon, reportedly due to the threats they have received.
A Reuters report filed in Beirut stated: “Jubilant Palestinians took to the streets of refugee camps of Lebanon and the West Bank, waving Palestinian flags and distributing sweets to celebrate the attacks on major U.S. landmarks and government offices.”
The same report noted: “In Nablus, motorists honked their horns and gunmen fired into the air from assault rifles to cheer on the attacks which unfolded in the space of a few hours and stunned people around the globe.”
The AP film that was not aired reportedly shows Palestinian policemen celebrating and shooting into the air, in addition to civilians dancing, according to senior Israeli sources. The film was reportedly shot in Nablus, where more than 3,000 demonstrators took to the streets, and in the Balata refugee camp, according to the website Gamla.org.
Palestinians forcibly confined foreign journalists to a Nablus hotel Tuesday night, guarded by armed Palestinians while festivities took place in the streets outside, according to a Jerusalem Post report.
Israel Television correspondent Oded Granot reported Wednesday night that Tanzim militiamen had kidnapped a Palestinian cameraman who shot a report for a major news agency showing Palestinians in Ramallah celebrating the attacks against the United States. This film reportedly includes footage of Palestinian Police firing their assault rifles in the air in celebration as hundreds cheer. The Tanzim reportedly released the cameraman yesterday.
Ha’aretz reported that mourners at the funerals of nine Palestinians killed early Wednesday in IDF military operations in Jenin cheered in celebration of the terror attacks in the United States.
Maariv reported Wednesday that Arab students at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem held a party Tuesday night celebrating the attacks and giving out candy to participants. University officials closed the dormitory lounge in which the party was held shortly afterwards, Maariv added.
The Palestinian Authority prohibited street celebrations and shows of support for the terrorist attacks on the United States. Palestinian Information Minister Yasser Abed Rabbo issued a strict instruction in this matter yesterday. Earlier in the week, there were reports that Palestinian police were trying to prevent demonstrations of joy, with limited success.
After Arafat’s initial condemnation of the attacks, he expressed his feelings for the U.S. by saying “God bless America.” Arafat canceled his scheduled visit to Syria so as not to be portrayed by the Americans as a partner of a country still considered as a “terrorist state.” Wednesday Arafat donated blood for the victims of the tragedy and condemned “this horrible attack.” He told reporters at Shifa hospital in Gaza City that the Palestinians were “donating our humble abilities to (U.S. President George W. Bush) and to the American people.”
Army Radio reported Wednesday that Arafat is urging Palestinian schoolchildren in the West Bank and Gaza to take to the streets in demonstrations supporting the U.S. The move is being seen as another PA attempt at “spin control” in the wake of reports that foreign correspondents were forbidden from covering Palestinian celebrations after the terror attacks, according to the report.