- Published on Monday, 11 June 2012 13:07
Attacks against journalists continued in the occupied Palestinian territories during the month of May, some of which were life-threatening.
The Israeli occupation forces suppressed journalists covering events organized to show solidarity with Palestinian prisoners (included five journalists four of them are subject to administrative detention) on hunger strike..
After a quiet month in March with nearly no violations by Palestinian authorities, numerous violations against journalists in both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip led to a decline in media freedoms in Palestine.
Israeli Violations of Media Freedoms:
Israeli occupation forces open-fired at six journalists from Alwaha Media Production while they were preparing a report in the Faraheen area of east Khan Younis in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, May 1.
Occupation forces hit a photographer from the "Wafa" news agency, Hudayfah Srour, with a rubber bullet in his left thigh while he was covering a solidarity march for Palestinian prisoners near the Ofer Prison, not far from Ramallah, on Monday, May 7.
They also injured a photographer from the French Agency, Jaafar Ashtiyeh, with a tear gas grenade while reporting on the weekly solidarity march for prisoners in Kofor Kaddom on Friday, May 11. On the same day, Palestine Public TV correspondent Ajwad Jaradat was hit with a gas bomb while covering a similar march near Kofor Kaddom.
In Jerusalem, the occupation forces attacked a correspondent of the "Quds Net" agency, Diyala Jwayhan, during her coverage of marches on Nakba Day in the Issawiya neighborhood- Jerusalem, on Tuesday, May 15. Three days later, Palestine Public TV cameraman Shamekh Jagub was nearly suffocated after inhaling tear gas thrown on the participants during the weekly march at Kofor Kaddom on Friday, May 18.
The Israeli occupation forces arrested the general manager of the Al-Aseer channel, Baha Mousa Khairi, and took him to an unknown location on the morning of Thursday, May 17, after searching his home in the northern West Bank city of Jenin and confiscating the main satellite transmitter. The occupation authorities also extended the administrative detention of Falesteen newspaper's head officer in the West Bank, Walid Khalid, on Tuesday, May 8, without filing formal charges against him.
Palestinian Violations of Media Freedoms:
The internal security service of the Hamas government prevented a celebration to commemorate Palestinian literature in Gaza City on Wednesday, May 2. They prevented journalists from filming, including photojournalist Jihan El-Farra.
Hamas Police also prevented a Quds channel crew comprised of correspondent Hanadi Nasrallah, cameraman Rami Abu Shamala, and soundman Joseph Tilbani from filming at Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City on Monday, May 7. The crew were detained in the hospital for hours.
In the West Bank, the Palestinian intelligence service in Jenin summoned Wattan TV correspondent Ahmed Melhem, who refused to go to their headquarters, for an investigation on Wednesday, May 2. The intelligence service in the city of Salfit also summoned journalist Khaled Ma'ali for an investigation after searching his home and confiscating his press equipment on the same day.
In Bethlehem, Palestinian security forces forbid journalists from covering British supermodel Naomi Campbell's visit on May 22. In addition, the Preventive Security Service in Bethlehem summoned Radio Bethlehem 2000's correspondent, Suhaib Al-Asa, on Wednesday, May 30.
The Magistrate Court of Bethlehem City postponed the trial of Radio Bethlehem 2000's general manager, George Canawati, to September 5, 2012. Following charges filed by Bethlehem's Governor, Abelfatah Hamayel, Canawati has faced trial since October 3, 2011, after he publicly criticized Bethlehem's Health Directorate on his Facebook page. This followed a dispute over the presence of Israeli products at a managerial department meeting on Thursday, September 8, 2011.
AP photographer Nasser Shyoukhi was injured when a Palestinian demonstrator accidentally hit his head with a stone during clashes that erupted between the occupation forces and those marching in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners near the Ofer Prison on Tuesday, May 1.
Conclusion and Recommendations:
The Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA) condemns the Israeli occupation forces' violations against journalists. These attacks not only endanger their lives but also hinder their ability to report. MADA calls upon the international community to stand with Palestinian journalists by intervening to hault these violations and by calling for the release of the detained journalists.
MADA also strongly condemns the violations perpetrated by the Palestinian authorities. These attacks on media freedoms increase the suffering and impede the work of Palestian journalists. MADA calls on all Palestinian parties in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip to respect the freedom of expression guaranteed in Palestinian basic law and to stop shutting mouth policy.
Details of Violations:
(1 May) The Israeli occupation forces attacked six journalists from Alwaha Media Production while they prepared to conduct a report about the bulldozing of farmers' lands in the Farahin area east of Khan Younis in the Gaza Strip. Producer Jebriel Abu Kamil reported to MADA that he accompanied his colleagues (broadcaster Murad Hassan, journalist Nabil Abu Deyah, camerman Mohamed Alraa'i, sound technician Emad Alkheribi, and producer Walaa Bayari) to the Farahin area to report about the farmers ' plight for the Iqraa channel. While preparing to begin filming, they came under fire from Israeli tanks that approached the house in which they were present. After a failed attempt to exit the house and reach their car or to reach a neighboring house, they continued to receive heavy fire. The cameraman continued filming to indicate that they were journalists, but he only became a target in response. Abu Kamil added, "We were wearing protective shields, so we ran towards the car and stayed near it for about ten minutes. When the fire decreased, we entered one of the houses and stayed inside for nearly two and a half hours until the shooting stopped. None of our team was shot, but we were very scared because they were shooting at us with 12 tanks."
(2 May) The Associated Press photographer Nasser Al-Shyoukhi was injured when a stone hit his head that was thrown by a Palestinian demonstrator during clashes between the occupation forces and those showing solidarity with Palestinian prisoners near the Ofer Prison, which is near the city of Ramallah. Nasser Shiyoukhi told MADA after leaving the hospital, "I was filming clashes near the Ofer Prison when I was accidentally hit in the head with a stone thrown by a Palestinian during an exchange of stone-throwing and firing of rubber bullets between Palestinians and the occupation forces. I lost consciousness, and the Red Crescent gave me first aid. Then I was transferred to Ramallah Hospital and discovered that I was suffering from a fractured skull and internal bleeding. Given the seriousness of the injury, I was transferred to Hadassah Ein Karem Hospital in Jerusalem, and underwent an operation on my head lasting five hours. The operation was successful, so the doctors asked me to stop working for a month until the wound heals completely."
(2 May) The Hamas government in the Gaza Strip haulted a celebration in commemoration of Palestinian literature in the Pasha Palace Hall in central Gaza City. The blogger Ibaa Rizik told MADA that a number of internal security services were present at the ceremony filming the audience. When the writer and blogger Omar Ezzat spoke about the 2007 demolition of the wall between Gaza and Egypt and the subsequent arrival of El Arish and his criticism of the Hamas government, he began blaming the participants for their silence on the current situation in Gaza. At that point, the security shut off the electricity and stopped the ceremony. Then many security personnel entered, beat one of the Egyptians participants, and prevented photojournalist Jihan El-Farra from filming.
(2 May) The Palestinian intelligence services in Jenin summoned Wattan TV correspondent Ahmed Melhem. Melhem told MADA that he had received the call from the intelligence headquarters in Jenin to report there for an investigation. He refused, stating that he did not receive an official summons. Melhem noted that when he asked them to give the reason for the summons, they alluded to a report he published on Wattan's website. They did not summon him again.
(2 May) The Palestinian intelligence service in the city of Salfit summoned the journalist Khaled Ma'ali for an investigation after searching his home and confiscating his press equipment. According to the journalist's family, members of the Palestinian intelligence service came to his home on Monday, April 30, searched it after presenting a search warrant from the Attorney General, and confiscated his computers, papers, and CDs. They also delivered the summons to investigation before leaving his home. His family added, "When he went there [on Wednesday], they detained him for two hours and interrogated him about his journalistic work. They asked him to return the following day. When he arrived on Thursday, he was interrogated on the same subject, and after about two hours, he was released."
(7 May) The Israeli occupation forces attacked the "Wafa" news agency photographer Hudayfah Srour during his coverage of the marches near Ofer Prison, not far from Ramallah. The marches were conducted to show solidarity with Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike. Srour told MADA that he was hit by a rubber bullet in his left thigh, even though he was wearing a visible journalist helmet. Srour added, "I received first aid on the spot and continued to cover the events, until I felt tired and overcome by the pain in my leg and could not continue my work."
(7 May) Hamas government police in the Gaza Strip prevented a Quds channel crew (comprised of correspondent Hanadi Nasrallah, cameraman Rami Abu Shamala, and soundman Yousef Tilbani) from working at Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City. They detained the crew in the hospital for hours. The cameraman, Rami Abu Shamala, said that they went to the Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City at about ten o'clock in the morning to cover the deteriorating health of the mother of Palestinian prisoner Rami Barbakh following her hunger strike in solidarity with her son. When they started coverage, two security personel came and started screaming at them. Afterwards, four policemen came, so he agreed to stop filming and leave the hospital. The policemen refused to release them and took them to a security room. Abu Shamala added, "We stayed in detention until the director of the channel came to intervene to release us, but the police told him that the crew did not hold a permit for fliming. He replied that the Quds channel had a permit from the Ministry of Interior to allow them to shoot anywhere. They still refused to release us, but after a short time the public relations officer at the hospital intervened, and they released us."
(8 May) The occupation authorities extended administrative detention for the Bureau Chief of the Falesteen newspaper in the West Bank, Walid Khalid. His mother told MADA, "We learned from Walid's lawyer that the Israeli authorities extended the administrative detention of my son. The lawyer also told us that he was transferred to the Ofer Prison and confirmed that he is in high spirits and good health." Walid's mother added that there have still been no formal charges filed against him.
(11 May) Israeli occupation forces attacked the French Agency photographer Jaffar Ishtayeh while covering a weekly solidarity march in Kofor Kaddom. Ishtayeh told MADA that the occupation forces threw a tear gas canister near him that hit the ground and struck his back, causing severe bruises that led to immediate loss of consciousness due to the severity of the pain. The Red Crescent was present and came to his aid. He was transferred to the hospital, where he received the necessary treatment.
(11 May) The Israeli occupation forces attacked Palestine Public TV correspondent Ajwad Jaradat while covering Kofor Kaddom's weekly solidarity march. Jaradat told MADA that the occupation forces threw a gas bomb directly at him and hit his left leg. Jaradat added, "I was wearing the slogan of the press, and it was very clear [that I was a member of the press]. I received first aid on the spot by the Red Crescent, who were standing by. The doctor asked me to rest at home for two days."
(15 May) The Israeli occupation forces attacked "Quds Net" correspondent Diyala Jwayhan during her coverage of the marches on Nakba Day in the Issawiya neighborhood of Jerusalem. Jwayhan added, "I went on Tuesday afternoon to the town of Issawiya to cover events, and I saw soldiers violently beating a mentally disturbed man, so I filmed that. A group of journalists were around me. Then I was approached by an Israeli soldier, and he pushed me with all his strength. I fell on the ground as he stepped on my left foot violently, which caused bruises to my back. I couldn't breathe and lost consciousness." Jwayhan received initial treatment in the field and was then transferred to the Kupat Holim clinic where she remained until 11:00 pm.
(17 May) Israeli occupation forces arrested Al-Aseer channel General Director Baha Khairi Mousa and took him to an unknown location following a search of his home in Jenin in which they confiscated the channel's main satellite transmitter. The Executive Director of the channel Saher Qasim told MADA that a unit of Israeli occupation forces raided Mousa's house at approximately 1:30 am. Soldiers searched his home, confiscating the channel's transmisision device and other equipment before arresting him and transferring him to an unknown location. Qasim. As for the channel, it is now broadcasting using a spare transmitter, but the occupying forces can control our broadcasts and publish any material they want via satellite, and this is very scary."
(18 May) Palestine Public TV correspondent Shamekh Jagub nearly suffocated after inhaling tear gas that the occupation forces threw onto participants of the weekly march in Kofor Kaddom. Jagub told MADA that during the coverage of the march, he was doing an interview with one of its participants when a tear gas grenade was thrown. He inhaled the gas and lost consciousness. He added, "I received first aid from the crew of the Red Crescent who were in the place. It wasn't the first time that I was harrased by the occupation forces since the army always attacks the reporters directly and indirectly."
(22 May) Palestinian security forces prevented journalists from covering British supermodel Naomi Campbell's visit to the city of Bethlehem. Associated Press photographer Iyad Hamad told MADA that the presidential guard kept all journalists from covering the event with the exception of Palestine Public TV, which conducted an interview with Campbell in a restaurant in Bethlehem. Hamad added, "In the beginning when they prevented us from filming inside the Church of the Nativity, we thought this was due to the sanctity of the holy site. We waited until she exited the church, but they prevented us from filming, using their hands to obscure our camera lenses and threatening to break our cameras. They also held a black cover over her face. Some of the security members told us that she requested they prevent journalists from covering her visit, but the situation was exaggerated by Palestinian security forces. She is just a model visiting Palestine for the first time.
(30 May) The Preventive Security Services in Bethlehem summoned Radio Bethlehem 2000's Suhaib Alasa for an investigation on Wednesday 30/5/2012. Alasa told MADA that a Preventive Security vehicle came to his home on Monday 28/5/2012, and handed his father a summons to report in two days' time at exactly 9:00 am at their headquarters. Alasa added, "I went there on time and waited until 1:00 pm. Then I was interrogated on the reasons for my arrest by the occupation forces, and they told me that the call was not because of my job as a journalist, and it's just a security check. After about 20 minutes, they released me [and told me] to return the next day at the same time. On Thursday, at 9:00 am, I was there and was investigated for two and a half hours. They asked me why I published my summons on Facebook and asked me to give them my password on Facebook, but I refused to do so."