Violations of press freedom by Israeli and Palestinian authorities in OPT
The World Press Freedom Index for 2011-12, produced by Reporters Without Frontiers ranks 179 countries: UK 28, Israel 92, Israel ‘extra-territorial’ 133, Palestinian territories, 153
Ahmed Al-Beitawi, from the Tadamun foundation for human rights has said that the Israeli Occupation Authority (IOA) will extend the administrative detention of journalist Amin Abu Warda for five months.
Al-Beitawi said that the IOA will transfer Amin Abu Warda, who is currently in Majodou prison, to administrative detention for five months starting from 8th of February 2012, concluding the period that he has already spent in prison.
Israeli forces arrested the 46 year-old journalist, Abu Warda, on 28th December 2011 after they raided his house in Jerusalem Street, east of Nablus. They also raided his office and confiscated his laptop and some of his personal papers.
Al-Beitawi said that the decision to transfer Abu Warda to the illegal administrative detention, 40 days after his continuous interrogation in Betah center, is considered to be evidence that the Israeli intelligence has no charges against Abu Warda as they also asked him about things that had happened 30 years ago, when he was a child, which shows that the Israeli Authority has nothing to accuse him of.
Abu Warda has an MA degree in Media Studies and is now studying for a PHD in Malaysia. Abu Warda works as an instructor in the An-Najah National University and as a reporter for PNN and the Gulf Emirates newspaper.
At the same time, the Israeli court renewed the detention of two other administrative prisoners: Ahmad Malaysha from Jenin for another three months and Laith Atele from Tul-Karem for another six months.
The Doha Centre for Media Freedom-Palestine Branch has noted a remarkable increase in violations against press freedom in the Palestinian territories – the West Bank, occupied East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip – as well as in Israel so far this year 
A team of researchers at the centre has monitored and registered all physical and moral violations against journalists or their organisations in the region that occurred in the period between January 1 and March 31, 2011.
This report covers violations and aggressions against journalists and their media institutions by Israel and its military forces as well as by the ruling Palestinian authorities in Gaza Strip and the West Bank. It continues to be updated each month.
Violations against press freedom by Israel in March are part of the country’s policy of imposing methodic restrictions on Palestinian, Arab and foreign press.
Mar 5 Israeli soldiers beat Thair Faqussa, cameraman at Palestine TV of the Palestinian Authority, during a peaceful anti-settlement protest in the locality of Beit Amr, south of Hebron.
Mar 9 Israeli forces captured the correspondent of official Palestinian News Agency, Jueid Al-Tamimi, and held him for hours without providing any justification.
Mar 10 Unknown assailants believed to be Israeli extremists destroyed the car of Israeli-Palestinian journalist Husam Hareb. The incident came after Hareb received death threats form unknown people who told him over the phone that they were against the articles he published on his website entitled “Al-Asel”.
Mar 11 Journalists Mohamed Alyan and Nader Bibers were injured as they were covering clashes between Palestinian protesters and Israeli police in the locality of Silwan in occupied Jerusalem. The two journalists were referred to a medical centre in the locality for treatment.
Israeli troops prevented other Palestinian journalists from covering clashes in Silwan locality on which they imposed a military siege, blocking journalists’ access to it.
Mar 12 Journalist Ahmed Syamm was slightly injured when extremist settlers attacked him and the other protesters in Silwan locality in occupied Jerusalem.
Mar 13 Several journalists were beaten up by extremist settlers in southern Hebron and prevented from covering clashes between the settlers and Palestinians in the area.
Mar 14 Israeli troops denied journalists access to Urta village south of Nablus in the West Bank, preventing them from covering military raids of several houses in the locality.
Mar 16 Israeli police assaulted several journalists in Jerusalem, including 32-year-old Ahmed Uthman Jalajel, cameraman at Palestinian media and Telecommunication Company, 24-year-old Ashraf Shweiki, cameraman from Bal Media Agency, 47-year-old Nader Mohamed Bobress, Palestinian TV cameraman and Dyala Jweihan, correspondent of Quds Net. The four were on their way back from a sit-in organized by journalists to protest over aggressions against them and after participating in a solidarity stand with Al Jazeera channel. Police then stopped them and subjected them to interrogation, using abusive language.
Mar 17 The management of Israeli Shatta prison censured Palestine Satellite TV, Al-Arabiya and Lebanese LBC inside cells of Palestinian prisoners.
Mar 18 Israeli military fired tears gas and rubber bullets on a group of journalists while they were covering clashes which took place after Friday prayer in Sulwan locality in occupied Jerusalem. Several journalists were temporarily suffocated, including cameraman Mahfudh Abu Terek, from Al-Quds Newspaper, who was carried to hospital for treatment.
Mar 22 Israeli authorities presented a draft of charges against journalist Mohamed Abu Ata for filming and reporting on extremist Jewish settlers’ incursions in Al-Aqsa Mosque in the holy city.
Israeli army arrested Kamal Sharab, Programmes director at Palestine Radio. Israeli army stormed Kamal’s house three times and destroyed its furniture before arresting him along with two of his sons and interrogating them without charges.
Some of these violations are part of the ongoing violations against journalists while some others are the result of political wrangling between the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah and the deposed government in Gaza.
Mar 2 Preventive security forces of the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank detained Aymen Al-Misri, a professor of journalism at Media Faculty, Najah National University. Al-Masri was detained after he was summoned for interview and interrogation.
Mar 6 Ala Al-Titi, reporter of Al-Aqsa satellite TV which is believed to be owned by Hamas, was brought to court in relation to his case which remained active since 2008 when the prosecution indicted him for incitement and for working with the Al-Aqsa channel.
Mar 15 several journalists were assaulted by interior security forces during their participation in a sit-in at Al-Kateeba Square in Gaza city calling for an end to division among Palestinians. Plainclothes police beat the journalists and set fire to their tent. The names of journalists victims of police aggressions are:
General supervisor of Aswar Press Agency, Manal Khamis
Sawt Ashaab (Voice of the People) correspondent, Sameh Ramdan
Editor-in-chief of Aswar Press, Rafat Tuman
Aswar Press correspondent, Talat Al-aga
Cameraman at French New Agency and Ayam Newspaper, Mohamed Al-Baba
Iman Radio correspondent, Dima Lababidi
AsmaGul, from an independent newspaper
Managing Director of Journalists’ Union, Munir Al-Mnirawi
Ala Anshasi, independent journalist
Samah Ahmed, independent journalist
Reuters’ Cameraman, Fadi Shanaa
Writer and Journalist, Akram Ata Allah
Russia Today Cameraman, Mustafa Al-Bayd
Mohamed Sawalhi, from Abu Dhabi TV
Yaser Dabadibsh, from Iman Radio
Correspondent of Palestinian Ayam Newspaper and Jordanian Algad Newspaper, Hamed Jad
Al Arabiya Channel correspondent, Jamal Abu Nahel
Palestine Today Cameraman, Abd Zagutt
Mar 16 Correspondent of Lebanese Future channel, Amr Bashir, was assaulted, detained for about an hour and had his mobile confiscated before it was returned to him later.
Mar 17 Elements believed to be from the interior security forces of the deposed government and guardsmen of the UNRWAassaulted journalists who were covering a peaceful sit-in organized by the youth in front of UNRWAheadquarters in Gaza, calling for an end to division among Palestinians. The journalists included: Mohamed Al-baba of the French News Agency; Issam Al-Ajrami; Wisam Yassin, correspondent of Al-Hurra channel; Khader Kweik, cameraman at China News Agency; Ismail Al-Zanun, Al Jazeera Channel cameraman. The journalists had their video tapes confiscated and were prevented from filming.
Mar 19 A group of journalists were assaulted by security elements of the deposed government in Gaza and persons suspected of belonging to security forces. The assault took place as journalists were trying to cover March 15 events which saw police dispersing sit-inners at the Unknown Soldier Square. Journalists who were assaulted by police are: 32-old AP cameraman Khaled Al-Ashqar, 27-year-old cameraman at Maydeen company Mundir Khalil Shrafi, 29-year-old Press TV Channel cameraman Muniss Mahmud Abu Nahel; 35-year-old director of video filming section at Reuters Abd Shnaa, 32-year-old Reuters’ producer Muhamed Subhi Abde Arrahman Shnaa, and independent journalist Manal Nawajha.
Interior security elements of the deposed government in plainclothes assaulted several media bureaus, destroying equipment, confiscating tapes and aggressing journalists. The assault came after a news agency filmed an interior security force trying to arrest a journalist after it broke up a protest by March 15 youth. The bureaus assaulted are: Reuters’ bureau in Gaza; Mayadeen Company for Media Production bureau; bureaus of French TV and Al-Manar Radio; bureaus of Japanese NHK channel and CNN; Headquarters of Fact News for Media Production company.
Following assaults on journalists, a meeting was held between journalists and interior minster of the deposed government, Fathi Hamad, in which he pledged to hold those responsible of the assaults accountable. The interior minister also announced the formation of a panel charged with investigating these assaults and ensuring the respect of journalists.
Mar 20 Writer Lima Khatar was threatened by an unidentified person who claimed to be a member of security forces of the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank.
Police of the deposed government arrested forty-three-year old Ahmed Al-Baghdadi, an independent journalist who works at the same time with Palestine TV. Police interrogated him about his participation in 15 March events to end division among Palestinians.
Mar 22 Mohamed Al-Baz, a member of the General Secretariat of Palestinian Journalists’ Union, was denied passage to Jerusalem through Eretz border crossing by the security forces of the deposed government in Gaza. Al-Baz was accompanying a patient for treatment in a hospital in Jerusalem when he was told that the general prosecutor in Gaza issued a decision banning him from travel. With the help of human rights groups Al-Baz was allowed to travel but only once.
Mar 27 Policemen of the deposed government in Gaza assaulted thirty-four year-old Maher Abd Nabi, Quds Press correspondent, after he broadcasted a radio message criticizing health conditions inside Gaza hospitals.
Mar 29 State Media Office of the deposed government in Gaza contacted journalists, urging them to cover an authorized protest organized by Palestinian factions in Beit Lahiya north of Gaza Strip and not to cover another unauthorized peaceful protest in Gaza apparently called for by a group of youth on Facebook.
Mar 30 Interior security forces of the deposed government assaulted number of journalists during their coverage of “The Land Day” activities. These are the names of journalists assaulted: Al-Hurra reporter Wissam Yasin; AP cameraman Said Sabue; journalist at Wafa News Agency Muhamed Najar; Sawt Al-Watan Radio reporter Iyad Talal Taha; and Mohamed Al-Hassumi, journalist at Freedom Media Center.
Feb 2 Israeli Army targeted a group of journalists who were covering a peaceful demonstration against the separation wall in the village of Bil’in west of Ramallah in the West Bank. Journalist Haitham Al-Khatib (34 years) suffered suffocation after a tear gas bomb was fired at him.
Feb 4 Israeli army attacked a group of journalists near the gate of Rasal-Amudin occupied Jerusalem. Six journalists were injured while covering clashes that broke out in the region after Friday prayer.
The wounded journalists who were brought to health centers in the city for treatment are: Journalist Diyala Jweihan, Photographer of Al-Quds Newspaper, Mahfouz Abu Turk, Mahmoud Alian, a cameraman for Al-Quds, and Muammar Awad press photographer in Al Sharq Al Awsat news agency in Palestine, and Mohammed Abu Sunaina a photographer of “Saloan Net” website.
Feb 15 Israeli army prevented the correspondent of the local Palestinian Al-Quds newspaper, Ahmed Jalajil, from covering the funeral of a Palestinian martyr killed in the Ras al-Amudin Jerusalem.
Feb 18 An Israeli force threatens to arrest journalist crew of the website “Salonac media” if they continue to cover the events taking place in the area of Silwan in occupied Jerusalem and post them on the website.
Feb 19 Israeli military beats the correspondent of the “Voice of Palestine” radio and the correspondent of Al Jazeera satellite channel in Tulkarm in the West Bank, Mueen Shadeed, while he was covering a peaceful protest against the separation wall in the Palestinian town of Deir al-Ghusun.
Feb 25 Israeli military detains Waddah Mahmoud Al-Jabari, a cameraman of Al Jazeera Talk while he was covering a demonstration in the area of Al-Shuhada Streetin Hebron in southern West Bank.
Israeli soldiers target three journalists with rubber bullets and tear gas in Hebron during their coverage of a march organized by the residents of the city Friday afternoon to mark the 17th anniversary of the Ibrahimi Mosque massacre. The journalists were: the correspondent of official Palestine TV belonging to the Palestinian Authority, Sari Al-Oweiwi, and the correspondent of the agency Pal-media, Abdul Ghani Al-Natshe, and the correspondent of the agency France-Press, Hazem Bader.
Feb 3 Palestinian riot police assault Palestinian journalists while covering a demonstration in solidarity with the Egyptian revolution in Ramallah, arresting one journalist for a little while.
Feb 7 Preventive security in the city of Bethlehem in the West Bank detains Mamdouh Hamamrah Press correspondent of Al-Quds Satellite Channel while covering a strike organized by teachers in front of the Directorate of Education in the city. According to the testimony by Hamamrah which the Center received, he has been captured and isolated, his camera was confiscated, the tape was checked and he was held for more than two hours for working for Al-Quds Satellite Channel.
Feb 10 Intelligence agents under the deposed government in Gaza summoned Mr. Joseph, board member of the Press Syndicate, three times for an interview and interrogation, following a lawsuit against him after his participation in the elections of the syndicate of journalists, despite a ruling by local court in Gaza rejecting this lawsuit.
Feb 10 Journalist and writer Khalil Shahin has been victim of a smear campaign organized by officials from Fatah movement for his participation in Al Jazeera talk- show which debated Palestinian negotiations papers.
Feb 11 Security Members in Khan Yunis in southern Gaza Strip assault former state TV presenter Shawki Al-Farra during a break up of a demonstration calling for an end to division among Palestinians in the city of Khan Yunis.
Feb 13 A Palestinian court in the city of Qalqilya in northern West Bank imposed very high fine on journalist and writer Issam Shawar before being released after a detention which lasted 27 days and a date set for his appearance before court for a final decision.
Shawar was arrested following an article he published in Gaza-based “Palestine” newspaper and on charges of “undermining national unity and causing disturbance to the nation.”
Feb 14 The president of the General Association of Unions in the province of Jenin has insulted and humiliated the Al Hayatt Al Jadida newspaper’s reporter Atef Abu Al-Rab because of his coverage of workers’ strike in the municipality of Jenin.
Feb 15 A preventive security force in Nablus in northern West Bank detains journalist Sami Al Asi after being invited for an interview at a center belonging to preventive security.
Feb 15 Security services of the deposed government interrogate journalist Sameh Ramadan, who works at Local Public Radio in Gaza, about materials he posted on his Facebook profile.
Feb 28 Police of the deposed government prevented a group of journalists from covering a sit-in which was supposed to be organized in the Unknown Soldier square in western Gaza City demanding an end to division.
Israeli violations and aggressions in the months of January and February are part of a long-standing Israeli policy of violence against Palestinian, Arab and foreign media. The aim of these violations is to prevent or limit media coverage of violence committed by Israeli forces against the Palestinians. We have listed details of these violations as follows:
Jan 7 An Israeli army force prevented a group of journalists from entering the town of Silwan in occupied Jerusalem. The journalists were on their way to cover the clashes between Jewish settlers and Palestinians from the town.
Jan 10 Jewish extremists threatened to kill Palestinian journalist Zuhair Andraws, editor-in-chief of Arabic newspaper “Al- Hadath” and correspondent of London-based “Al Quds Al Arabi” newspaper in Palestinian territories occupied in 1948, for his anti-Israel journalistic work.
Jan 13 Members of Israeli security conducted a humiliating search against the Al Jazeera’s correspondent Nagwan Samri by trying to force her to take off her clothes while she was entering the headquarters of the Israeli Prime Ministry with the crew of Al Jazeera channel to cover a news conference held by the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in occupied Jerusalem. Such move contradicts the most basic human rights.
Jan 16 Israeli authorities prevented journalist Awad Rajoub, a correspondent of the “Jazeera Net” website, from traveling from Hebronin the West Bank to Doha in Qatar to attend a forum hosted by Al Jazeera on Electronic Media and the Internet.
Jan 21 The Israeli Army fired rubber bullets and tear gas at a group of Palestinian journalists while they were covering a peaceful protest against the construction of Israel’s separation wall in the village of Bil’ain in the West Bank. A cameraman from the Palestinian local agency Palmedia was injured in the attack along with photographer Hamza Maaji who was hit by a rubber bullet in the back.
Jan 27 Two Palestinian journalists from Jerusalem, Diyala Jweihan and Ahmed Jalajel were slightly injured when Israeli force fired tear gas at them while they were covering clashes between Palestinian youth and Israeli military in the town of Silwan in Jerusalem. The two injured journalists were subsequently rushed to a local hospital for treatment.
The most noticeable violation was preventing journalists from covering peaceful demonstrations of solidarity in Gaza Strip and the West Bank at the beginning of revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt. This act of violation placed a restriction on media freedom.
Jan 5 A Preventive Security force under the government of Dr. Salam Fayyad, detained Palmedia Agency’s cameraman, Ahmed Kilani, for six hours and subjected him to interrogation. Al-Kilani was detained while shooting a television interview with Wasfi Kabha, former Palestinian minister of prisoners and a leader of Hamas.
Jan 6 The deposed government in Gaza launched a media campaign against Al-Jazeera’s correspondent Guevara al Budeiri after the channel ran her package on a sit-in organized by families of detainees held in detention centers. The government issued a statement describing Givara’s report as “selective and unprofessional.”
Jan 11 A Preventive Security force in the Hebronin southern West Bank detained Palestinian journalist Mohammed Halaiqa after being summoned for an interview and interrogation.
Jan 24 A group of Palestinian protestors tried to storm the office of Al Jazeera Channel and attack its staff in Ramallah in the West Bank. The attack came after the channel broadcasted confidential documents about the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. The documents were broadcasted in several television series entitled “Disclosing Secrets”.
Jan 26 Unknown assailants attacked the Office of Bal Media agency in Nablus, in northern West Bank, and destroyed equipment and TV cameras. The attack took place after the agency hosted Dr. Abdel Sattar Qassem, a political science professor at Al Najah University in Nablus, on the air directly for Al Jazeera Channel.
Jan 30 A Palestinian Authority security force used force to disperse and prevent photographers from covering a protest that was supposed to be organized in front of Egyptian embassy in Ramallah.
Jan 31 Members of women’s police of the deposed government in Gaza detained five women journalists and bloggers. They were arrested during their participation and coverage of a sit-in in solidarity with the Egyptian revolution in the Unknown Soldier square West of Gaza City. The arrested journalists and Bloggers’ names are: (Asmaa Al Ghoul, Nazik Abu Rahma, Abeer Aodah, Eiba Zulfiqar, and Razan Al Madhoon). They also prevented journalist Fares Al Ghool, the correspondent of New York Times,from covering the event and withdrew his press ID.
Journalist and human rights activist Asmaa Al Ghoul, Al Jazeera Talk’s correspondent Nazik Abu Rahma, and blogger Eiba Zulfiqar Swarego were arrested for about three to five hours.
Continued violations against press freedom by Palestinian authorities in the West Bank and Gaza Strip show that internal divisions among Palestinians still have a negative and dangerous impact on journalists who fall victim to the political wrangling between Fatah and Hamas. The impact on journalist is all the more dangerous if we take into account the intellectual background of journalists and the writings they publish online.
Doha Centre calls upon Palestinian authorities to respect freedom of the press and work hard to keep journalists and their profession away from political antagonism.