MADA: unprecedented escalation in violations against media freedoms during 2015

PNN/Ramallah

The Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA) held a press conference on Thursday morning,  to announce the release of its annual report about violations of Palestinian “media freedoms” during the year of 2015.

In addition, it shed light on the recent Israeli new attack against two Palestinian media outlets, following a recent resolution issued by the Israeli Prime Minister to close Palestinian media centers under the pretext of incitement that permeated the closure of the “ Palestine today” TV and Trans Media Company following the arrest, threats and intimidation of several Palestinian journalists.

Moussa Rimawi, MADA’s General Director, emphasized during the conference that violations of “media freedoms” in Palestine recorded during 2015 reached a new peak compared to what has been monitored over the past years.

He noted that most the brutal of these attacks was the killing of a media student Ahmed Jehajehah, from the Modern University College, who was shot by the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) during an incursion in Qalandiya refugee camp and the killing of Palestine TV cameraman Kamal Abu Nahel by anonymous assailants, in a crime that its perpetrators have not been arrested or identified until the release of MADA’s report.

Rimawi also added that MADA monitored a total of 599 violations (407 Israeli violations, 192 Palestinian violations) against “media freedoms” during 2015.

According to the report, this number is considered as the highest ever to be monitored in Palestine since MADA started monitoring this violations almost a decade ago.

In comparison with 2014, Rimawi assured that the total number of violations (Israeli and Palestinian) in the occupied West Bank and Gaza during 2015, increased by 134 points, which is equivalent to 29%, bearing in mind that 2014 has witnessed the most aggressive and brutal violations ever registered.

He added that the IOF committed the largest number of the gravest and most hazardous of all monitored violations (407), which is equivalent to 68% of the total, while various Palestinian parties in the occupied West Bank and in the Gaza Strip committed a total of  32% of the total violations (192).

Rimawi mentioned that Palestinian journalists and media outlets faced fierce and wide practices of suppression by the IOF during the last three months of the year 2015 “interim the Palestinian popular rising”: (112 violations were monitored in October 2015 alone), which erupted against the Israeli occupation early October.

He added that the IOF closed three Palestinian radio stations (during November 2015), in addition to threatening other several outlets of a similar process claiming  they practiced incitement against the IOF through their programs, news and even songs they broadcast.

Following the recent Israeli resolution that was issued on 08 March 2016, which included shutting down media outlets, they shut dawn “Palestine today” TV and ”Trans-Media” for media services offices, and damaged and confiscated their equipment. Furthermore, they threatened and arrested some of those outlets’s journalists.

Regarding Palestinian violations, Rimawi said the largest part of the Palestinian violations monitored in 2015 took place in the occupied West Bank where 116 violations were monitored (around 60%) versus 76 Palestinian violations committed in Gaza Strip, which is equal to 40% of the total Palestinian violations which have reached.

He emphasized that the Palestinian violations occurred for two main reasons:

1)The lack of belief from Palestinian officials and authorities (especially the security service) in the occupied West Bank and Gaza strip in the freedom expression and media;

2)Their refusal to criticism or expression of opinion (different or opposite) and dealing with them as security threatening acts. However, the other part of violations emerged as a result of the division in the Palestinian arena.

The report also indicates that Palestinian violations came within 17 types, whereas the largest part of it concentrated within 5 types: summoning and interrogation processes, arrests, physical assaults, detentions and denial of coverage, which is equivalent to 77% of the total Palestinian violations (in West Bank and Gaza Strip).

The report also noticed that during 2015 the arrest and detention of Palestinian journalists have expanded by the Palestinian security forces, as the number of monitored arrests increased to reach 31 cases (18 cases in the occupied West Bank and 13 cases in the Gaza Strip), which is a more than once doubled increase compared to the year 2014 (15 cases).

On its report, MADA expressed its high concern regarding the continuous and escalation of all Israeli violations against Palestinian media outlets and repeated its demand to the immediate interference of the International community, to put an end to the Israeli violations against Palestinian media outlets.

In addition, MADA also demanded all Palestinian Authorities to respect the freedom of expression that is guaranteed by the Palestinian Basic Law, and to stop the policy of arrest and detention against journalists, and to hold accountability for all violators and perpetrators, and to enact the Palestinian law on right to access information.

Below, a video from October last year, showing an Israeli police officer assaulting Palestinian journalists covering clashes in the occupied West Bank.