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MADA: Occupation forces assault journalists in the village of the “Gate of the Sun”


Ramallah - 13/1/2013: The Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA) strongly condemns the attack on media freedom and the work of journalists by the Israeli army during their coverage of developments in the evacuation of the village of Bab Al Shams, "Gate of the Sun", at dawn on Sunday 13th January 2013. Journalists were detained and forcibly prevented from covering the Israeli military operation to evacuate Palestinians and foreign activists present in the village by soldiers.


According to testimonies of journalists present in the village during besiege and evacuation, journalists were detained by soldiers in a low-lying place, while a number of other soldiers shone spotlights on the cameras to thwart the filming of the event. Journalists were violently denied access to the area and Israeli forces cut the live broadcast of Palestine Public TV three times during the coverage of the event.


Associated Press cameraman Iyad Hamad told MADA that the number of journalists present exceeded twenty and that they were dealt with severely by Israeli soldiers; he added "They have pushed us violently and almost I fell on the ground. They kept us in a low place like a tunnel to prevent us from covering the eviction process. I complained to the Israeli police spokesman who was present at the place of what we are exposed to, but he did not care for it and insisted on to say that the army did not treat journalists harshly". Hamad concluded by stating “even after the evacuation of the village, the occupation forces forced journalists to leave the area, and prevented them from sending pictures from inside of the site”.


Palestine Public TV correspondent Haroon Amayreh, who was covering the events directly from inside the village, told MADA "I have been asked by the Israeli spokesman who was accompanied by the army for an interview with him, and when I refused, the process of harassment to us in Palestine TV began, where he asked me directly to close the camera and told me to leave the area because it is closed military zone, and then broadcast cables were separated three times". Amayreh stressed that the situation was menacing and the most difficult he has had to face during his journalistic career. There were almost 1,500 soldiers present.


Raya Media Network cameraman Samer Nazzal told MADA that three soldiers were endowed with the task of shining lights at journalists’ cameras so as to prevent pictures of the evacuation process being taken. He added that the soldiers "strongly pushed us and treated us violently, which led to the fall of woman journalist Rania Hamad Allah from Palestine Public TV on the ground". Nazzal confirmed that the journalists were detained in a low-lying place to prevent them from reporting on the evacuation, and added that there were also two Israeli journalists present but the Israeli army treated them differently, permitting them to carry out their work unhindered.


Furthermore, the occupation forces prevented  Palestine News Network (PNN) crew, including Editor-in-chief Monjed Jado and cameraman Joseph Saqer, access to the village yesterday(12Jan.2013). The crew issued a statement, testifying that "upon their arrival to the area of Alza’m checkpoint the Israeli soldiers stopped the car they were traveling where there is press signals on it, they asked them the identity cards and then press cards where the Israeli soldiers told them that the Palestinian press cards are unrecognized, and ordered them to leave the area under threat. Also they prevented other news crews from reaching the site such as Al Etejah, Saudi Arabia and Iraqi channels".


The village of Bab Al Shams was built from tents by Palestinian activists two days ago in the land located east of the city of Jerusalem. The Netanyahu government announced a plan to establish a settlement outpost in that region that if implemented, will prevent territorial contiguity between the northern and southern regions of the West Bank.


MADA renews its strong condemnation of this new attack on freedom of expression. It calls upon the international community to apply pressure to the Israeli government to cease its blatant violations of freedom of expression granted in all international laws and conventions.