Two photographers from foreign news agencies said they were attacked by Israeli soldiers Saturday during a Palestinian demonstration near Hebron.

One photographer claimed an Israeli soldier hit him with a baton, and a second said he lost his hearing after a stun grenade exploded near his head.

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The incident occurred during a demonstration in the West Bank. Palestinians rioted and threw stones at Israeli forces, who responded with tear gas and other riot-suppression measures.

The photographers were said to be among the protesters, making it difficult to pick them out. An IDF spokesperson didn't comment directly on the photographers, but said "anyone who chooses to be present in close proximity to conflict areas or violent incidents does so at his or her own risk."

The Foreign Press Association, which AFP said represents most international media outlets in the Palestinian territories, said there has been a recent policy change toward reporters by the Israeli military and police.

"Over the past months journalists covering these events have been harassed, arrested and attacked by the various on site forces before these forces turn their attention to the activists or demonstrators," said the Foreign Press Association.

"Open, unhindered coverage of news events is a widely acknowledged part of the essence of democracy.

"Generally speaking this would not include smashing the face of a clearly marked photographer working for a known and accredited news organization with a stick, or for that matter aiming a stun grenade at the head of a clearly marked news photographer or summarily arresting cameramen, photographers and/or journalists."


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