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Violations of Media Freedoms in Palestinian during January 2013

 

 A bad start for Palestinian Journalists in 2013

 

Ramallah – 02/05/2013: The Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA) has monitored a large number of violations against journalists in the Occupied Palestinian Territories during the first month of the year “January 2013”. Journalists were exposed to numerous attacks that can only be described as a new attempt to suppress the truth, gag the media, and prevent journalists from performing their professional duty.

 

The Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) continued its policies to prevent journalists from covering the events of solidarity and peaceful masses in different areas of the west bank. At times, the journalists were prevented by force from entering areas, they were targeted with gas bombs, or they were detained. 

 

On the other hand, in the Gaza strip, journalists had experienced a multitude of violations embodied with their arrest and violent interrogation by the internal security forces. However, during the last month and for the first time in many months, the MADA center monitored no Palestinian violations against journalist in the West bank. 

 

Israeli Occupation violations:

On Saturday 01/12/2013, the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) denied Palestinian News Network (PNN) crew, including Editor-in-chief Monjid Jado and cameraman Joseph Saqer, access to the village of Bab Alshams “Gate of the Sun”, near the city of Jerusalem. The IOF also prevented other press crew from reaching the site such as Al Etejah, Saudi Arabia and Iraqi channels.

 

Meanwhile, the Israeli Occupation Forces assaulted journalists who where on site in the village of Bab Alshams, and forcibly prevented them from covering the Israeli Military operation to evacuate Palestinians and international activists present in the village. It all occurred at dawn on Sunday 01/13/2013. 

 

The Israeli Occupation force also detained Alquds TV correspondent Samer Khowaira and PalMedia cameraman Ahmed Alkilani on Almalha Checkpoint at Ein Alhilwa area. In addition, the IOF detained a group of journalists on Aloja Checkpoint on Saturday 01/19/2013, while on their way to cover the solidarity movement for the valley area near the city of Jericho. 

 

On Friday 01/25/2013, an Israeli gas bomb was thrown directly at the Turkish Anatolia agency correspondent Qais Abu Samra, and the bomb hit his back. Abu Samra was covering clashes between the Israeli Forces and Palestinians in the village of Budrus west of Ramallah.  

 

Palestinian Violations:

The Gaza Strip witnessed a decrease in violations against journalists, and they were subjected to assaults, detention, and interrogations.  

During the days of the 21st 22nd and 23rd of January 2013, a series of arrests were made by the internal security personal in the Gaza Strip. Those arrests targeted: the Executive Director of the Journalists’ Syndicate in Gaza Munir Almunirawi, Chief Editor of the Palestinian Media Group Mustafa Al-Miqdad, freelancer Ashraf Abu Khsewan, a reporter from Sawt Alhureyya  Juma’ Abu Shumer, Omar Aldahudi, Hesham alja’b, Alaa Aldahudi, Moayad Alasali, Shadi Shaheen, Muhanad Alkahloot, Issam Madi, and Majdi Abd Alazzis Mohamed Saleem.  Then on 01/28/2013, the Hamas Prime Minister decided the journalists to be released, after MADA and many other human rights institutions strongly demanded it, in addition to the interference of Public Freedoms Committee and some public and political figures. 

 

In addition, Hamas summoned reporters from the Aswar news website Hussein Abdel Jawad and Abdul karim fathi for interrogation on Wednesday 01/23/2013.  The journalists were interrogated separately about the agency, their work, and their source of funding. 

 

In addition, an individual in Gaza assaulted Ashraf Abu Amra, a journalist who was covering a solidarity event on Sunday 01/20/2013.

 

Conclusion and Recommendations:

The Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA) condemns all violations against journalists. In addition, MADA calls on all parties of the official international and human rights organizations to exert real pressure on the Israeli occupation authorities to stop its practices and attacks on journalists, who are targeted directly and deliberately during their coverage of various events in the Occupied State of Palestine in flagrant violation of all international laws and conventions.

 

"MADA" welcomes the efforts to achieve the Palestinian reconciliation, but is gravely concerned for the deterioration witnessed in the status of media freedoms in the Gaza Strip over the past month, and the arrest and brutal interrogation of a group of journalists. MADA calls upon all concerned parties to respect the Palestinian basic law, which guarantees freedom of opinion and expression explicitly in article 19. The center also reaffirms against pushing journalists in intra-Palestinian rivalries, and stresses the need for the Palestinian media to play a positive role in speeding up the reconciliation and advocacy to resolve differences through dialogue. At MADA, we firmly believe that reconciliation will lead to a significant drop in attacks on journalists.

 

Details of violations: 

(1/12) On Saturday 01/12/2013, the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) denied Palestinian News Network (PNN) crew, including Editor-in-chief Monjid Jado and cameraman Joseph Saqer, access to the village of Bab Alshams “Gate of the Sun”, near the city of Jerusalem. Jado reported that upon their arrival at Alzaeem checkpoint the Israeli Occupation soldiers, despite the press slogans and signs on the car, stopped the car in which they were traveling. The soldiers then asked the journalists for their identification cards and press ID, and then pointed out that the Palestinian press cards are not recognized. The occupation soldiers ordered the journalists to leave the site under threat. In addition, other press crews were prevented from entering the site such as Al Etejah, Saudi Arabia and Iraqi channels.

 

(1/13) The Israeli Occupation Forces assaulted journalists present at Bab Alshams Village and forcibly prevented them from covering the military mission to evacuate the village, it occurred at dawn on Sunday 01/13/2013. The soldiers also detained the journalists and prevented them from covering the military evacuation of the Palestinian and international activists present at the village. 

 

According to testimonies of journalists present in the village during the siege and evacuation, the soldiers detained them 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 the Palestine 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 treated cruelly by Israeli soldiers; he then added, "They have pushed us violently and I almost 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, but he showed no sympathy to my complaint and insisted 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 the site”.

 

Palestine TV correspondent Haroon Amayreh, whom was covering the events directly from inside the village, told MADA “I was asked by the Israeli spokesman, whom accompanied the army, to interview me, and once I refused the process of harassment targeted the crew of Palestine TV. He asked me directly to close my camera, and then I was asked to leave the area calling it a closed military zone, and then our broadcast cables were separated three times”.  Amayreh stressed that the situation was menacing with almost 1,500 soldiers present, and it was the most difficult situation he had to face during his journalistic career.

 

Raya Media Network photographer Samer Nazzal told MADA that three soldiers were given the task of shining lights at journalists’ cameras so as to prevent pictures of the evacuation process to be taken. He then added that the soldiers "strongly pushed us and treated us violently, which led to the fall of a female journalist Rania Hamd Allah from Palestine TV ". Nazzal confirmed that the journalists were detained in a low-lying place to prevent them from reporting on the evacuation. Nazzal also added that two Israeli journalists were present at site and were treated differently by the Israeli army; they were permitted to carry out their work unhindered.

 

(1/19) The Israeli Occupation force also detained Alquds TV correspondent Samer Khowaira and PalMedia cameraman Ahmed Alkilani while on their way to cover solidarity activity with the people of the valley near Jericho, it happen on Saturday 01/19/2013. Khowaira told MADA that he arrived at Almalha Checkpoint, accompanied by his colleague Alkilani, to cover the valley events and that is when the Israeli Occupation Forces detained them for about an hour and a half pleading they had no permission from the Israeli officer. Once they were released, the activity was over. Khowaira added, “Journalists who were arriving from Ramallah were also prevented from reaching the valley as they were detained at the Aloja checkpoint”.  

 

(1/20) an individual assaulted a journalist Ashraf Abu Amra, while he was covering a solidarity event on Sunday 01/20/2013. Abu Amra reported to MADA saying, "I received an invitation from the Popular Front for Liberation of Palestine to cover a solidarity protest before the French Consulate in Gaza for one of their prisoner in French prisons. During the protest, a protester started laughing in the faces of reporters. The protestor was asked by reporters to act serious and stand away from journalists, but he began spitting at us and insulting. Other protesters interfered and removed him, but after the event he approached me and he beat me and humiliated me in front of everyone".

 

(1/21) The internal security personal in Gaza arrested a group of journalist and they are the Executive Director of the Journalists’ Syndicate in Gaza Munir Almunirawi, Chief Editor of the Palestinian Media Group Mustafa Al-Miqdad, and freelancer Ashraf Abu Khsewan on Monday 01/21/2013. The journalists were released on 01/28/2013 after a decision of Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh. According to Almunirawi’s brother, Raed Almunirawi who spoke to MADA, that the internal security personal came to their house in Deir al-Balah at eight o'clock in the evening on Monday, and told them that there is an arrest warrant against Munir and a home inspection. Almunirawi added, "They searched the house well and they confiscated a portable device, a cell phone, and work papers which belonged to my brother, then they arrested him and he was held at the internal security headquarters in Rafah."

 

After his release, Almunirawi told MADA that he was interrogated and questioned regarding: publications on Fatah sites (Alkarama Press – Fateh Alakhbari – Wakalit Fateh), the source of funding for these sites, and undermining the revolutionary unity. Almunirawi added, "They used violence during the investigation, and I was transferred to the Public Prosecution on 28/01/2013. The Public Prosecution decided to extend my detention for 15 days, but my release came as a political decision, but I have not received the items that were confiscated from my house with the exception of the Press Syndicate seal and my personal identification card.

 

(1/22) On Tuesday 01/22/2013, the Internal Security personal arrested Sawt Alhureyya reporter Juma' Abu Shumer. Director of Sawt Alhureyya, Amjad Arapeed told MADA that the Internal Security came to the family house of Abu Shumer in Deir al-Balah, but he was out so they detain his family and uncle until Abu Shumer made his presence at the headquarters of the internal security in Gaza City. Indeed, when Juma' went to the security headquarters, they released the family and left the house. Abu Shumer was released on Monday 01/28/2013.

 

(1/23) the Internal Security personal in Gaza arrested a group of Palestinian Journalists who work for Alkarama Press website Omar Aldahudi, Moayad Alasali, Shadi Shaheen, Muhanad Alkahloot, Issam Madi, Majdi Abd Alazzis Mohamed Saleem, on Tuesday 01/23/2013. 

 

Saleem reported to MADA that the Internal Security came to his house, searched it, and confiscated some of his personal belongings such as his bankcard, syndicate card, Laptop, two cell phones, bank statements, and some personal papers. He also said that after the arrest he was taken to the headquarters of the internal security in Ansaar, where they put a bag over his head and began integrating him. Saleem then added, “The integration was about my work, my news sources, my salary, and the people I work with. They treated me with so much violence like putting a bag over my head, prohibiting me from sleep, forcing me to stand or sit on an uncomfortable chair”. Saleem was presented to the prosecution on 01/23/2013, and he was accused of “undermining the revolutionary work by working at Alkarama press and interfering with the process of the reconciliation”. He was released on 01/27/2013. The remaining journalists were released on 01/28/2013 based on the decision of Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh.

 

(1/25) The Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) assaulted the Turkish Anatolia agency correspondent Qais Abu Samra, while he was covering the clashes between the Israeli Forces and Palestinians in the village of Budrus west of Ramallah, on Friday 01/25/2013. Abu Samra Reported to MADA that he went to the village to cover the clashes, where the IOF was heavily shooting gas bombs at Palestinians, during that the IOF shoot gas bombs directly at a group of journalists. The journalists then ran away to protect themselves, but he stumbled and fell to the ground, and was hit with a gas bomb to his back. Abu Samra added, “It caused me redness and bruises and I was treated in the field”.

 

(01/23) The Internal Security personal in Gaza summoned Aswar news website reporter and photographer Hussein Abdel Jawad Karsoa for interrogation on Wednesday 01/23/2013. Karsoa reported to MADA that the Internal Security came to his home on Saturday and handed him a written call to go to their headquarters in Ansar at exactly nine o'clock on Wednesday morning. Once he arrived, they took his personal data and then asked him to return on the 01/30/2013. Karsoa added, “I went on the scheduled date, and my interrogation began about my work at the agency and my colleagues, then they told me that the site I work for is not licensed. My response was that I been working for 3 years and no one has notified us of that. Then they asked me for my laptop, so I made a call to my brother to bring it. They released me, but I had to come back another time. My travel passport remains confiscated”. 

 

(1/23) the Internal Security personal in Gaza summoned a correspondent of Aswar news website Abdul Karim Fathi Hajji for interrogation on Wednesday 01/23/2013. Hajji reported to MADA that the internal security came to his home on Saturday and handed him a written call to go to their headquarters in Ansar at exactly nine o'clock on Wednesday morning.  Once he arrived they sat him for a quarter of an hour with his face to the wall, then they asked him for his e-mail account and password, and ordered him to return on 01/31/2013. Hajji added, "I've stayed at the security headquarters about four and a half hours. I was interrogated about Aswar news, their employees, and their sources of funding. Then I was released”.