The presidents of NBC and CBS News have sent angry letters to the Israeli government after Israeli soldiers allegedly fired a rifle inches from the face of NBC correspondent Bonnie Anderson and then into the car she and a camera crew were using.
"Such conduct by an Israeli Defense Force captain is outrageous and indefensible, and he should be severely reprimanded," NBC News President Lawrence K. Grossman wrote Thursday in a letter to Prime Minister Shimon Peres.
Grossman charged that the soldiers, under the command of a captain who was well-known to reporters, also seized a cassette from the crew during the Wednesday incident at the Awwali River Bridge in southern Lebanon.
The president of CBS News, Edward M. Joyce, said in a telex to Peres and Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin: "The behavior of the IDF unit is without precedent. I am sure you will agree that it damages the good name of your country and its relations with the United States."
An Israeli military spokesman said the army is investigating the incident.
Grossman's letter said the soldiers confronted correspondent Anderson and the captain demanded the tape that cameraman Gary Fairman was shooting at the bridge.
Grossman said the officer then "tried to wrest the equipment from the neck of the recordist," Jonathan Callery.
"An Israeli soldier, in view of the captain, then placed an M-16 rifle to the head of the cameraman and, when Miss Anderson told him to point the rifle to the sky, he fired it less than a foot away from her face and over the head of Mr. Fairman," Grossman said.
Car Hit by Bullet
He said that when the crew moved back and tried to set up, the soldiers fired from a distance and "one of their bullets struck our car."
In his letter of protest, Joyce also discussed an incident involving a CBS crew.
"I would also like to protest a somewhat less menacing, but still unwarranted incident, involving a CBS news crew in the same general area at about the same time," Joyce said. "Our crew was taping much the same material and was also stopped by IDF troops. Their tape too was confiscated. I would appreciate your explanation either by telephone or telegram of these incidents."
The Awwali River Bridge, near Sidon, is the major crossing between Israel and southern Lebanon and has been barricaded by the Israelis.