Wave of arrests of Palestinian journalists


January 4, 2017
Sarah Benton


Palestinian journalists protest in solidarity with their colleague Omar Nazzal, who was put in administrative detention on April 29, 2016. Photo by Flash90

Report: Sharp spike in repression of Palestinian journalists

Two new reports document the growing repression of Palestinian journalists by Israeli forces last year. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, Israel is currently imprisoning the same number of journalists as the Syrian regime.

By Oren Persico, The Seventh Eye/+972
January 02, 2017

Palestinian journalists have been subject to a severe increase in violations by Israeli security forces over the past several months, according to a report published by MADA — Palestinian Centre for Development & Media Freedoms last week.

MADA, a Ramallah-based Palestinian NGO that tracks violations against Palestinian journalists, found 27 cases in which the rights of Palestinian journalists were violated by Israeli forces in November, as opposed to 11 in the previous month.

According to MADA, Israeli forces raided the home of a Palestinian journalist from the West Bank village Salfit. He was detained and interrogated for alleged incitement on his Facebook page. A journalist from Hebron was arrested and interrogated over a film he produced a year and half ago on Palestinian hunger strikers. In one case in the Jordan Valley, Israeli security forces fired tear gas and pepper spray at nine Palestinian journalists, in an attempt to prevent them from covering a demonstration against home demolitions. MADA also reported that Israeli forces raided three printing houses and one media outlet, confiscating and sabotaging printing equipment.

Furthermore, Palestinian security forces summoned a local journalist for interrogation over his work, and arrested another journalist during a live broadcast of a soccer game.

According to the IDF Spokesperson,

the army “is constantly working to maintain security and enforce law and order in Judea and Samaria, while allowing freedom of the press and reporting in the area. As part of the war against terror and incitement, the army takes action against printing houses that serve as the source for materials used for incitement and terrorism.”

Earlier in December, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) published a report on the number of jailed journalists around the world. According to the report, there are currently seven journalists in Israeli jails, less than Turkey (81), China (38), Eritrea (17), Ethiopia (16), Vietnam and Iran (8 each). Yet Israel is not in good company: seven journalists are currently jailed in both Syria and Bahrain.

According to CPJ, these are the Palestinian journalists in Israeli prisons:

Ali Aliwiwe is the host of an evening news program on Radio 4. He was arrested by Israeli security forces at his home in the West Bank city of Hebron at 2:30 a.m. on October 21, 2015, an hour after he returned from work. Since then he has been in administrative detention. Radio 4, which broadcasts out of Hebron, was shit down twice over the past year by Israeli security forces. According to the station manager, the workers take home their equipment every night, in order to prevent its confiscation by Israeli forces. Aliwiwe’s sister told CPJ that her brother’s health (he suffers from Chron’s Disease) has greatly deteriorated while in prison.

Omar Nazzal, a political journalist, was arrested last April while on his way to an international journalism conference. He has been in administrative detention ever since. Nazzal’s attorney, Mahmoud Hassan, previously told The Seventh Eye that the Palestinian Authority and Israel worked together to bring about his client’s arrest, which came as a response to the things he was publishing. Nazzal’s administrative detention was extended for the third straight time in November; he has has spent seven consecutive months in detention with no charges, a formal indictment or a scheduled court hearing.

Adib al-Atrash, who works for Palestine Post (a media organization that publishes reports on the IDF’s activities on social media), was arrested last June, and since then has been placed in administrative detention. His detention was extended by three months in September of last year. His attorney told CPJ that he does not know whether his detention is connected to his work, since the reasons for the arrest is kept secret by the Shin Bet. Al-Atrash was interrogated by Palestinian intelligence two months before his arrest.

According to the IDF Spokesperson, the Palestinian journalists were put in administrative detention due to their involvement in terrorist organizations, including Hamas and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and their detention is a preventative measure against security threats that cannot be dealt with through criminal proceedings, due to classified intelligence.

The four additional journalists in Israeli prisons are Ahmad Darawish, who heads the A-Sanabel radio station in Dura, and who was arrested in August along with three employees — Mohammad Imran, Montaser Nassar, and Nidal Amro. The four were arrested and charged with incitement, support for terrorist organizations, and publishing information on army activities.


Israeli soldiers confiscate equipment from the A-Sanabel radio station, Dura, West Bank, August 31, 2016. Photo from IDF Spokesperson

 

Darawish’s indictment mentioned seven cases in which A-Sanabel broadcasted incitement. In four of those cases, broadcasters reported live on army raids, including the locations of soldiers. However, the indictment did not include any quotes that called to harm soldiers. Three additional cases of incitement mentioned in the indictment have to do with content published on the station’s Facebook page, which praised Muhammad Fakieh, who murdered Rabbi Michael Mark and was later killed in clashes with Israeli security forces near Hebron. The court has yet to hand down sentences in the case of the A-Sanabel workers.

The IDF Spokesperson responded to the A-Sanabel arrests, claiming that the army respects freedom of expression and freedom of the press, yet differentiates between them and support for terrorism and acts of violence against civilians.

This article was first published on The Seventh Eye. Read it here.

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