November 2019 has witnessed a significant rise in the number of violations against media freedoms in Palestine. These violations represent the double of those witnessed during September.
The Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA) has documented a total of 107 attacks against media freedoms in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, committed by Israeli and Palestinian authorities in addition to the Administration of Facebook during October, compared to a total of 53 during September.
This rise was mainly attributed to the decision of closing dozens of websites and Facebook Pages, in addition to the ongoing violations by Facebook Company, which led to closing more Palestinian pages claiming that they violate “the Facebook community standards”, not to mention the increase in the number of Israeli violations this month
The Israeli Violations
The number of Israeli violations has increased significantly during October, totaling 27 attacks compared to a total of 14 Israeli attacks during September.
As usual, most of the Israeli violations fall under the serious attacks against the lives of Palestinian journalists and media freedoms. The attacks included a total of 12 assaults which varied between beating, physical injuries due to the Israeli occupation forces’ rubber bullets and gas bombs which targeted Palestinian female and male journalists while they were covering miscellaneous events in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, as well as the city of occupied Jerusalem. This is in addition to 5 cases of arrests and detention. Also, the assault against another group of the following female and male journalists: the cameraman and journalist, Rami Mahfouth Al-Khateeb, he was assaulted and prevented from coverage. Palestine TV cameraman, Ameer Mohammad Abed Rabu, he was summoned, questioned and his equipment were confiscated. Palestine TV cameraman in Ramallah, Mohammad Radi, he was injured by a rubber bullet in his knee while he was covering a raid by the army in Ramallah. Mutasem Saqf Alhait, he was injured by a rubber bullet in the flank while he was covering an army incursion in Nablus. He also was assaulted while he was covering a march against settlement in Turmus ‘Ayya, a Palestinian town located in Ramallah, in another separate event.
Al Jazeera Mubasher reporter, Sondos Abdelrahman Owais was summoned. MAAN News Agency reporter Maysaa Abu Ghazala was also summoned. The Palestine TV reporter Osaid Mohammad Sbaih was prevented from covering and threatened with firing gas bombs at him. Sbaih’s coworker, Palestine TV cameraman, Najeeb Hussein Sharawneh was assault and had a suffocation injury. Mohammad Dahlan was injured by rubber bullet that hit the camera, which led to damaging it. The arrest of the following journalists: Al-Ghad TV cameraman, Hazem Nasser, his reporter colleague Khaled Budair. Also, the arrest of Palestine TV reporter, Ameer Shaheen, the cameraman of Colonization & Wall Resistance Commission, Zaher Abu Hussein, and the freelance journalist, Mahmoud Fawzi. It should be mentioned that the Israeli occupation forces confiscated their filming equipment while they were covering a peaceful protest against settlements in the northern Valleys, east of Tubas.
Additionally, six of Palestinian journalists were assaulted and beat by the Israeli occupation forces while they were covering a sit-in in solidarity with the prisoners on food strike, organized in Jerusalem, namely: Diyala Talab Jwehan, Al Hayat Al Jadida Newspaper cameraman, Nawal Imad Ibrahim Hijazi, Al Kufiyya TV reporter in Jerusalem Nawal Imad Ibrahim Hjazi, her coworker, the cameraman, Ghassan Mohammad Khader Abu Eid. Also, Al Quds Newspaper cameraman, Mahmoud Elayan, cameraman of French News Agency AFP, Ahmad Gharablah, Anatolia News Agency cameraman, Fayez Hamza Fayez Abu Irmailah. The freelance journalist, Fatima Mohammad Hassouna, suffocated, fainted, threw up due to the tear gas bombs. WAFA News Agency cameraman, Hassan Al Wahwah, was assaulted and prevented from coverage.
The Palestinian Violations
October 2019 has witnessed a significant increase in the number of Palestinian violations, most of which was due to the decision of blocking dozens of news websites and media pages on Facebook, based on the Cybercrime Law. The total number of Palestinian violations during this month reached 61 attacks; 49 of which were a result to the decision of blocking media websites and pages. This decision was considered a setback for the Palestinian government, which, since its inauguration last April, has promised to be committed to protecting media freedoms.
The other 12 Palestinian violations documented in addition to the practices of blocking websites included the detention and prevention from coverage of the reporter of Sawt Al-Shaab Radio, Mahmoud Omar Allouh, by Hamas police officers. Moreover, the journalist Izz Al-Deen Yasser Abu Aisha was summoned four consecutive times for several hours each and assaulted by the Internal Security Services.
The Preventive Security Services arrested the journalist Mahmoud Abu Hassan in Tubas for 15 days before being released under a bail. Also, the Preventive Security Services in Nablus arrested the journalist Radwan Abdelqader Qatanani for seven days before being released under a bail and summoning him twice after he was released. In addition to arresting the journalist Bassam Mohammad Muhaisen by the Internal Security of Hamas Government (he is still arrested until this day 31st Oct. 2019), as well as Ziad Awad, who was summoned and detained for 10 hours.
The Violations of Facebook:
During October, Facebook continued to close more pages of Palestinian journalists and media websites, claiming that they violate the “standards of Facebook community” as stated in some notices that have been received.
The blocking practices or the prevention from live broadcast as commenting at different intervals included a total of 19 pages for female/male Palestinian journalists and media websites followed by thousands. This is in addition to blocking and prohibiting another number of pages belonging to other Palestinian citizens (not journalists). During September, Facebook has (fully or partially) blocked a total of 34 Palestinian websites for female/male journalists and media websites.