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JfJfP comments


2016:

06 May: Tair Kaminer starts her fifth spell in gaol. Send messages of support via Reuven Kaminer

04 May: Against the resort to denigration of Israel’s critics

2015:

23 Dec: JfJfP policy statement on BDS

14 Nov: Letter to the Guardian about the Board of Deputies

11 Nov: UK ban on visiting Palestinian mental health workers

20 Oct: letter in the Guardian

13 Sep: Rosh Hashanah greetings

21 Aug: JfJfP on Jeremy Corbyn

29 July: Letter to Evening Standard about its shoddy reporting

24 April: Letter to FIFA about Israeli football

15 April: Letter re Ed Miliband and Israel

11 Jan: Letter to the Guardian in response to Jonathan Freedland on Charlie Hebdo

2014:

15 Dec: Chanukah: Celebrating the miracle of holy oil not military power

1 Dec: Executive statement on bill to make Israel the nation state of the Jewish people

25 Nov: Submission to All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism

7 Sept: JfJfP Executive statement on Antisemitism

3 Aug: Urgent disclaimer

19 June Statement on the three kidnapped teenagers

25 April: Exec statement on Yarmouk

28 Mar: EJJP letter in support of Dutch pension fund PGGM's decision to divest from Israeli banks

24 Jan: Support for Riba resolution

16 Jan: EJJP lobbies EU in support of the EU Commission Guidelines, Aug 2013–Jan 2014

2013:

29 November: JfJfP, with many others, signs a "UK must protest at Bedouin expulsion" letter

November: Press release, letter to the Times and advert in the Independent on the Prawer Plan

September: Briefing note and leaflet on the Prawer Plan

September: JfJfP/EJJP on the EU guidelines with regard to Israel

14th June: JfJfP joins other organisations in protest to BBC

2nd June: A light unto nations? - a leaflet for distribution at the "Closer to Israel" rally in London

24 Jan: Letter re the 1923 San Remo convention

18 Jan: In Support of Bab al-Shams

17 Jan: Letter to Camden New Journal about Veolia

11 Jan: JfJfP supports public letter to President Obama

Comments in 2012 and 2011

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Posts

Abbas whacks people who put up snarky posts


Activist Issa Amro, an internationally recognised “human rights defender” arrested for critical comments about PA on Facebook. Photo by Oren Ziv/Activestills.org

Human rights activist arrested by Palestinian security forces over Facebook posts

Amnesty International notice
September 04, 2017

The arrest of a Palestinian human rights defender today who criticized the Palestinian authorities on Facebook is a shameless attack on freedom of expression, said Amnesty International.

Issa Amro, a Hebron-based co-ordinator for Youth Against Settlements and a former field researcher for the Israeli NGO B’Tselem, was detained at around midday local time today by Palestinian Preventive Security Forces, after he posted comments on his Facebook page criticizing the arrest of a local radio journalist yesterday by the same Palestinian security forces.

“It is outrageous that a prominent human rights defender has been arrested simply for voicing his opinion online. Criticizing the authorities should not be a criminal offence. Issa Amro’s arrest is the latest evidence that the Palestinian authorities are determined to continue with their repressive campaign against free speech,” said Magdalena Mughrabi Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International.

“We have seen an alarming escalation in the Palestinian authorities’ clampdown on freedom of expression in recent months. Instead of continuing to step up their efforts to quash dissenting voices, the Palestinian authorities should immediately and unconditionally release Issa Amro and stop harassing and intimidating activists and others for daring to speak their minds freely.”

Amnesty International recently highlighted a chilling escalation in attacks on media and freedom of expression by both the Palestinian authorities in the West Bank and the Hamas de facto administration in Gaza, detaining a string of journalists and shutting down opposition websites.


PA security forces arrest prominent human rights activist Issa Amro

Palestinian authorities reportedly arrested Amro, an activist with Youth Against Settlements, for criticizing the PA in a Facebook post. Amro, who is also facing charges in Israeli military court for his political activism, has been recognized by the EU and UN as a human rights defender.

By Michael Schaeffer Omer-Man, +972
September 05, 2017

Palestinian security forces arrested human rights defender and well-known Palestinian activist Issa Amro in the West Bank city of Hebron on Monday. The arrest was reportedly related to a Facebook post published by Amro, in which he criticized the Palestinian Authority for arresting a journalist a day earlier.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas recently signed an “Electronic Crimes” decree, effectively curtailing the little free speech that existed for Palestinians under Palestinian law, and which was believed to target online dissent against the PA, particularly on social media. The new law was roundly criticized by rights groups in Palestine and around the world. Israel also regularly arrests Palestinians for posts on social media.

The Palestinian Preventative Security Service (PSS) summoned Amro, who has been declared a “human rights defender” by the EU and UN, for interrogation about his critical Facebook post on Monday and arrested him at midday.

Amnesty International put out a statement Monday calling for Amro’s immediate release, saying it was “outrageous that a prominent human rights defender has been arrested simply for voicing his opinion online.”

“Criticizing the authorities should not be a criminal offence,” said Magdalena Mughrabi, deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty. “Issa Amro’s arrest is the latest evidence that the Palestinian authorities are determined to continue with their repressive campaign against free speech.”

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights also published a statement on Monday expressing concern at Amro’s arrest and urging his release.

Last month, Palestinian security forces arrested a large number of journalists in what appeared to be a campaign targeting members of the press working for outlets affiliated with political rivals of Fatah, Mahmoud Abbas’s party.

Amro gave the following statement prior to his arrest to a colleague at Youth Against Settlements, the Hebron-based group he co-founded, during which he sounded a defiant tone.

“All my writings on social media are part of the freedom of opinion and expression stipulated by the Palestinian Basic Law and are protected by all international laws and conventions. My arrest will not affect my defence of human rights and the rights of journalists to exercise their work freely and without pressure from the government.”

Amro has not been heard from since.

The Palestinian security forces are not the only ones targeting Amro for his defiant politics and activism. Amro is also currently on trial in an Israeli military court, where almost all of the 18 charges are related to his political activity and non-violent action. Under Israeli military law, there is no legal avenue for Palestinians to protest or demonstrate politically. Amro’s activism, much of which is the basis for his current charges, has been reported by +972 hereherehere and here.

In a video interview with +972 Magazine late last year, Amro spoke about the charges against him and why he thinks Israel wants to suppress his and others’ non-violent resistance to the occupation, particularly in Hebron.

Thirty-two U.S. congresspeople sent a letter to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson last month urging him to intervene on Amro’s behalf with regards to the Israeli charges against him.

Yael Marom contributed to this report.



Farid al-Atrash, left, and Issa Amro at Ofer Prison in the occupied West Bank on March 26, 2017 (HRW)

UN expresses concern over arrest of activist Issa Amro, demands his release

By Ma’an
September 05/06, 2017

BETHLEHEM — The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) released a statement on Tuesday, joining rights groups in demanding the release of prominent human rights activist Issa Amro, who was arrested by Palestinian security forces a day earlier for a Facebook post critical of Palestinian authorities’ crackdown on freedom of expression.

In a Facebook post Sunday evening, Amro, a Hebron-based co-ordinator for Youth Against Settlements and a former field researcher for the Israeli NGO B’Tselem, criticized the Palestinian Authority (PA) for arresting Ayman Qawsmeh, the director of the Hebron-based radio station Manbar al-Hurriya who was detained by the PA on Sunday, days after the radio station’s offices were raided and shut down by the Israeli army.

Local media reports said Qawsmeh’s arrest came after he called on Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah to resign owing to their inability to protect Palestinians from Israeli violence.

Amro’s arrest was the latest of a string of incidents in which Palestinians have been arrested for voicing their opinions since Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas issued a far-reaching Cyber Crimes Law in June that has been widely denounced by human rights groups as an extreme attempt to criminalize dissent against the PA.

OHCHR expressed its “concern” over Amro’s detention and urged Amro’s release. OHCR highlighted that freedom of expression is guaranteed by international agreements, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Palestine ratified in 2014.

OHCHR declared Amro “human rights defender of the year in Palestine” in 2010.

According to a translation by Middle East Eye, Amro’s facebook post stated as follows:

There are journalists who are being threatened by the security forces for publishing the news about Ayman Qawasmeh’s arrest. I hope that every journalist in the country publishes this news because it is true, 100 percent, not a rumour.

Ayman Qawsmeh, director of the radio station Manbar al-Hurriya detained by the PA last Sunday, days after the radio station’s offices were raided and shut down by the Israeli army.

Local media reports said Qawsmeh’s arrest came after he called on Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah to resign owing to their inability to protect Palestinians from Israeli violence.

Secondly, I call on everyone who gets threatened to talk to me, so we can complain about these threats to the Europeans and document the illegal violations. Not everyone can create a law and a state for himself. The law is clear and not open to various interpretations, and everyone should respect it.

There is a journalist called Ayman Qawasmeh, and there is a judiciary, a civil society, a syndicate for journalists and activists who will stand with him. Security forces should protect the law, not violate it. Freedom to Ayman Qawasmeh.

The Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) sharply denounced Amro’s detention on Tuesday, with the group’s Chair Hugh Lanning stating that “the Palestinian Authority should be defending and supporting human rights defenders like Issa, not arresting them for expressing their views online.”

After outlining Amro’s nonviolent resistance movement against settler-colonialism in his hometown of Hebron city in the southern occupied West Bank, the group stated that “No one should be arrested for expressing their democratic views,” and demanded his immediate release.

The human rights activist is known for advocating non-violent resistance and agitating on the international stage to raise awareness on Israel’s routine human rights violation in the occupied Palestinian territory. He is facing 18 charges in Israeli military court related to his activism.

Amnesty International called Amro’s arrest by the PA “a shameless attack on freedom of expression” on Monday.

“It is outrageous that a prominent human rights defender has been arrested simply for voicing his opinion online. Criticizing the authorities should not be a criminal offence. Issa Amro’s arrest is the latest evidence that the Palestinian authorities are determined to continue with their repressive campaign against free speech,” Magdalena Mughrabi, Amnesty International’s Middle East director, said.

“We have seen an alarming escalation in the Palestinian authorities’ clampdown on freedom of expression in recent months. Instead of continuing to step up their efforts to quash dissenting voices, the Palestinian authorities should immediately and unconditionally release Issa Amro and stop harassing and intimidating activists and others for daring to speak their minds freely.”

The human rights organization has highlighted “a chilling escalation in attacks on media and freedom of expression by both the Palestinian authorities in the West Bank and the Hamas de facto administration in Gaza, detaining a string of journalists and shutting down opposition websites.”

The PA’s new Cyber Crimes Law, issued by presidential decree in June, has been described by rights groups as “draconian” and “the worst law in the PA’s history,” for imposing jail time, hard labour, and fines for creating, publishing, and sharing information deemed dangerous by the PA.

A number of journalists have already been detained under the new law.

The PA has also been the target of condemnation for its security coordination with Israeli forces — particularly since Israel has long been criticized for suppressing Palestinians’ freedom of expression, by imprisoning hundreds of journalists, activists, and average citizens for social media activity.


 


May 25, 2016: dozens of Palestinian journalists in Nablus participated in a sit-in in solidarity with their colleague Tariq Abu Zeid who has been held captive at the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) security apparatuses for a week.

Palestinian journalists face crackdown as Abbas tightens grip on media

The leader of the Palestinian Authority is looking to increase his reach amid power struggles with rivals

By Peter Beaumont, The Observer
September 03, 2017

The reasons given by Palestinian Authority security forces when they arrested the journalist Tariq Abu Zaid were deeply contradictory.

Abu Zaid, a reporter with the Hamas-affiliated Al-Aqsa TV in the northern West Bank city of Nablus, was originally told that he was being detained in retaliation for the Gaza arrest by Hamas of a journalist from a media organisation supportive of President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah party.

But once in jail, Abu Zaid told the Observer, the story changed and he was told that he was being pursued under the controversial new Electronic Crimes Law, introduced by Abbas earlier this summer, for posts he had made on Facebook in which he had sarcastically criticised the Palestinian Authority.

 

 

Tariq Abu Zaid, L, was arrested by Israeli police in 2013 and sent to prison for 3 months on unknown charges; he has now been arrested by PA police.

 

Abu Zaid is not alone in being targeted by the Palestinian security services. He is one of five journalists arrested on a single day last month; others have been called in for questioning in a growing crackdown on both the media and expressions of dissent on social media.

The campaign began in June with the Palestinian Authority’s decision to shut down roughly 30 critical websites. Palestinian officials have moved on to target individuals, amid accusations that the unpopular and ageing Abbas, 82, is becoming ever more authoritarian as he clings to power.

Among the websites closed down were operations belonging to Palestinian political parties, opposition and independent media outlets, as well as al-Quds Network, a volunteer-run community news outlet.

Since then, however, according to a new report from Amnesty International released last month, that campaign has widened to allow Palestinian authorities in the West Bank to subject journalists and activists “to arbitrary arrests, violent interrogations, confiscation of equipment, physical assaults and bans on reporting”.

“The last few months have seen a sharp escalation in attacks by the Palestinian authorities on journalists and the media in a bid to silence dissent, said Amnesty’s Magdalena Mughrabi.

“This is a chilling setback for freedom of expression in Palestine. By rounding up journalists and shutting down opposition websites, the Palestinian authorities in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip appear to be using police-state tactics to silence critical media and arbitrarily block people’s access to information.”

While human rights groups have often accused Abbas of restricting freedoms, the latest moves mark a new departure, driven in large part by the escalating power struggles between Hamas, Abbas and the president’s chief Fatah rival, Mohammed Dahlan.

And at times, according to interviews conducted by the Observer, the ostensible reasons for arrest have been unquestionably petty – not least the detention of one journalist for taking a picture of prime minister Rami Hamdallah’s convoy on his mobile phone.

The most significant concern among human rights and freedom of speech advocates centres on the Electronic Crimes Law, which Abbas introduced by presidential decree – without any public consultation or debate – in July. Although the Palestinian attorney general, Ahmad Barak, has stressed that the law is not intended to punish criticism of the “Palestinian government, president, official or political parties”, critics say it is being used precisely for that purpose by the increasingly authoritarian and unpopular Abbas.

The new law, under which journalists such as Tariq Abu Zaid are being pursued, allows prosecutors to impose heavy fines or detention on anyone – including journalists and whistleblowers – judged to have been critical of the authorities online on the grounds of “disturbing public order”, “national unity”, “social peace” or “contempt of religion”.

Among those who have been caught up in the recent clampdown has been Fadi Arouri, a photojournalist who works for the Chinese news agency Xinhua. Arouri was summoned for interrogation and shown Facebook posts which, he was told, “could lead to disorder in the society”.

Another journalist who was arrested in the crackdown is Jihad Barakat, who works for a media services provider in Ramallah. He was detained for three days after he took a picture on his phone of the prime minister’s convoy as it halted near an Israeli checkpoint.

“I was travelling in a taxi and saw the convoy and took a picture but then a group of men came and found me and asked who was taking photographs.

“I said it was me, and that I was a journalist,” recalled Barakat, who is still facing a court summons despite agreeing to delete the pictures, which were never published. He has little doubt about the reason for his arrest.

“It’s a procedure they are using against journalists and journalism. The day after my arrest the new Electronic Crimes Law was introduced and in the same week four other journalists were arrested.”

Tariq Abu Zaid – who like Barakat will appear before the courts in the next few months – echoes the photographer’s sentiment. “It is getting worse every month,” he said, speaking in his office in Nablus.

“The intention, as I understand it, is that the Palestinian Authority wants to silence journalists.”

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