Picture shows "The photographer of the Anatolia news agency Mustafa Kharouf while being taken by an Israeli police officer to attend Israeli court"
Picture shows "The photographer of the Anatolia news agency Mustafa Kharouf while being taken by an Israeli police officer to attend Israeli court"

“MADA” demands release of Journalist Al-Kharouf & halt of Israeli deportation efforts

RAMALLAH/PNN/

The Israeli Central Court in Jerusalem held a session on Sunday (31/3/2019) to discuss the arrest of the journalist working for the Anatolia News Agency, Mustapha Kharouf (32 years). The Israeli prosecution has demanded to deport Kharouf out of Jerusalem and out of Palestine, claiming that he had no residency in Jerusalem, although he has lived there with his family for more than 20 years.

The Israeli Central Court held its hearing on the case of Kharouf without his presence. He was not brought from Ramleh prison due to a “mistake in names”, but his family insisted on following the court and not postponing it, since his presence or absence would not change the course of events.

According to MADA Center researchers, the Israeli Ministry of Interior claims that there is a “secret security file” with the Israeli security services (Shabak) regarding the journalist Mustafa Kharouf, it contains information from various sources about his activity during the last five years related to his contacts with “terrorist organizations”, claiming that such information is “a sufficient reason to prevent him from being reunited(with his family)” in Jerusalem and thus demand his expulsion from Jerusalem and the entire Palestinian territories.

While the defense lawyers of the journalist Kharouf presented the necessary legal evidence to request to release him, and not to deport him and grant him a reunion with his family (daughter and Wife) residing in Jerusalem, a lawyer from the Israeli Ministry of Interior said that “the right to defend Israel’s security is more important than the right to establish a family”; implying that the presence of the journalist Kharouf is threatening the security of the Israeli occupation state.

The court judge then held a meeting with representatives of the Israeli security services (Shabak), who said that they would present a “secret security file” linked to the journalist, knowing that the Israeli Ministry of Interior had never taken any security or criminal action against him. However, 20 years ago, they refused to reunite him with his family or grant him a residence permit or “visa”, knowing that he has no legal residence anywhere else in the world, including in the West Bank or Jordan, thus, deeming him an “illegal resident”.

The issue has not progressed over these long years (not only during the last five years contained in the “secret security file”), nor was any justification provided regarding the repeated refusal to grant family reunification, as the Ministry continues to hide behind what it describes as “confidential information” (as took place at the court hearing on Sunday) to justify its rejection and its efforts to expel him from Jerusalem.

The journalist Kharouf, in his efforts to obtain a reunion, filed an appeal on 21/1/2019 with the Israeli court against the decision of the Ministry of Interior to reject his requests, on the pretext of “security reasons”. On the following day, January 22, 2019, the Israeli police arrested him and transferred him to “Jiffun” prison in Ramleh, a prison for the deportation of “illegal” foreigners.

Mustapha Kharouf, who was born in Algeria on 21/9/1987, moved with his family to Jerusalem in 1999 has not left since. He is married to Jerusalem citizen Tamam Nofal Kharouf, and they have one daughter. All his family members, including his wife and daughter holding a blue color ID (Jerusalem residence ID). The Israeli occupation authorities insist on dealing with him as an illegal resident and seek to expel him from Jerusalem.

His wife Tamam says: “We are sure that Mustafa has no charge of belonging to political parties, and therefore the biggest doubt is that the reason for this is his job as a press photographer only.”

Since his arrest, Kharouf has been presented three times before Israeli courts. No decision has been made on his case, but the Israeli prosecution is demanding his deportation.

The Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA) condemns the actions against journalist Mustafa Kharouf, calling on human rights organizations and governments around the world to pressure the Israeli government to release him and grant him a reunion with family residing in Jerusalem, especially since he has no nationality or other residence anywhere. MADA also condemns the decision to expel him, which the occupation authorities seek to implement through a judicial decision that contravenes international laws and falls within the deportations targeting the general population of Jerusalem, carried out under false pretenses.

*The information in the press release was obtained from the wife of the journalist Kharouf and from MADA field researchers in Jerusalem.