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Reuters Journos Assaulted By Israeli Troops, Forced To Strip In Street

Israeli soldiers have been accused of punching two Reuters cameramen and forcing them to strip in the street, before letting off a tear gas canister in front of them, leaving one of them needing hospital treatment.

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NBC reports:

Israeli soldiers have been accused of punching two Reuters cameramen and forcing them to strip in the street, before letting off a tear gas canister in front of them, leaving one of them needing hospital treatment.

Israel's military said Thursday it took the allegations seriously.

"The regional brigade commander was ordered to open an investigation," Israeli Defense Forces spokeswoman Avital Leibovich said in an email.

Yousri Al Jamal and Ma'amoun Wazwaz said a foot patrol stopped them on Wednesday in the heart of Hebron as they were driving to a nearby checkpoint where a Palestinian teenager had just been shot dead by an Israeli border guard.

Their car was clearly marked "TV" and they were both wearing blue flak jackets with "Press" emblazoned on the front."

"We deplore the mistreatment of our journalists and have registered our extreme dismay with the Israeli military authorities," said Stephen J. Adler, editor-in-chief of Reuters News.

These are difficult times for journalists, with record numbers now imprisoned in various nations:

"Imprisonment of journalists worldwide reached a record high in 2012, driven in part by the widespread use of charges of terrorism and other anti-state offenses against critical reporters and editors, the Committee to Protect Journalists has found. In its annual census of imprisoned journalists, CPJ identified 232 individuals behind bars on December 1, an increase of 53 over its 2011 tally."

And then there is the "Death Watch":

"They call it the Death Watch. The International Press Institute, which is based in Austria, for 15 years has tracked the number of professional journalists around the world killed on the job.

With a month to go in 2012, the institute says 123 journalists have been killed this year. That breaks the old, grisly record of 110 who died in 2009.

Journalists sometimes die while traveling or covering combat. But the vast majority killed this year were targeted for death, said Naomi Hunt, senior press freedom adviser for the institute.

“It is widely accepted that journalist killings continue because the killers get away with it and gangs, armed militias and terrorist organizations and individual criminals all enjoy broad impunity,” Hunt said via email. “Journalists are at the most risk in countries where the government is unwilling or unable to put a stop to the killings.”'

This year, the three most deadly countries for journalists are:

• Syria, 36 deaths (about 30 percent of journalist deaths worldwide). In its deadly civil war, both sides are fighting not just for territory but for local and international opinion.

• Somalia, 16 deaths. The battle between an Islamist insurgent group and a fragile government has created lawlessness throughout this country in eastern Africa.

• Mexico, seven deaths. Journalists are vulnerable to attacks from drug cartels or corrupt public officials beholden to the cartels.

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