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Media Freedoms Violations in Palestine January 2015

 

Ramallah - January 2015 witnessed continuous violations against the media in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip but the number of violations decreased compared to December 2014. Nevertheless, the types of violations show that media freedom is still targeted.

19 violations against media freedoms in the West Bank and Gaza Strip were monitored during January 2015, 6 were committed by the Israeli occupation and 13 were by the Palestinian sides.

 

Israeli violations

The Israeli occupation forces  arrested 2 journalists: Al-Aqsa TV correspondent Ala’ Al-Titi and Huna Al-Quds network editor for social media Mujahed Mefleh.

The arrest of Al-Titi exposes the Israeli undeclared efforts to prevent the work of specific media outlets, according to Al-Titi’s brother, the Ofra military court accused him of working for Al-Aqsa TV that is linked to the “terrorist” Hamas. Al-Aqsa TV correspondent in Ramallah Mustafa Khawaja was also arrested (he released with bail) for a similar accusation.

The Palestinian News Agency WAFA photographer Ayman Noubani (age 29) was injured by a teargas bomb launched at him by the IOF while he was covering a demonstration in Kafr Qadoum village. But the most serious violation was the assaulting and beating of Akhbar Al-Quds photographer Amin Alawiya A.K.A Rami Allariya by the IOF on his way home after covering a demonstration in Al-Aizariyya in Jerusalem. Besides, the IOF prevented a group of journalists from covering a peaceful demonstration in Al-Nabi Saleh village on 1/1. The Israeli police and intelligence service summoned the public relations and media director of the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf Firas Al-Dibs on 11/1.

 

Palestinian violations

13 Palestinian violations against media freedoms were recorded in January, 9 were committed in the West Bank and 4 in the Gaza Strip. What raises concerns is the continuous harassment and interrogations of journalists and media students for their writings on Facebook. Some of the interrogated journalists were forced to reveal their accounts’ passwords, which is a serious violation of privacy that is guaranteed by the Palestinian Basic law.

The Monitor website correspondent in Gaza Mohammad Othman (age 28) was interrogated and threatened by the Resistance Committee in Gaza for publishing a report on “Executing people accused of spying for Israel”. The Preventive Security Forces summoned Al-Aqsa TV correspondent Ala’ Al-Titi (age 32) from Hebron, and the Palestinian Police in Gaza prevented Filisteen Al-Yaum TV cameraman Baha’ Rabee’ (age 27) and Palestine Public TV cameraman Ibrahim Al-Atle (age 27) from covering a sit-in against the power cut in Beit Lahya; they also seized the material they had filmed after summoning them to the Police Station on 10/1.

The Palestinian Intelligence services seized a money transfer sent for Anatolia news agency correspondent in Nablus Lubaba Thuqan (age 29) and they summoned her for interrogation at their headquarters. Some intelligence service members prevented the freelance journalist Mus’ab Ibrahim Sa’eed (age 24) and other journalists from covering a sit-in in Birzeit, they dragged Sa’eed with his photographer colleague Jihad Al-Qadi and the media student at Al-Quds University Muath Makhamre to the police station in Ramallah, where Sa’eed and Qadi were detained for 3 hours while Muath was detained until 9 PM after they sent him to the intelligence headquarters.

 Al-Riyadh newspaper correspondent in Gaza Maha Abu Owaimer (age 38) was beaten by an anonymous person, and the Preventive Security Forces in Hebron summoned Alam radio station anchor Muntaser Nassar (age 26), interrogating him about his work and his writings. On 20/1 the Palestinian Investigation summoned the freelance journalist Muath Al-Amleh (age 24) - he previously worked as a correspondent for Ikhbariyyat network in Nablus and a reporter at Pyalara). They interrogated him and accused him of insulting and cursing the head of Qabalan municipality.

 On 23/1 the Palestinian intelligence service arrested the media student and head of the media club at Birzeit University Bara’ Al-Qadi (age 22) accusing him of insulting an official. The preventive security forces summoned and interrogated the freelance journalist Khaled Ma’ali (age 48) from Salfit.

 

MADA condemned all the violations against journalists and demands that they cease and that those responsible be held accountable.

 

Details of violations

 

1/1- The Israeli Occupation Forces prevented a group of journalists from covering the weekly demonstration in Nabi Saleh village, north west of Ramallah. Al-Haya Al-Jadida newspaper photographer Issam Rimawi reported to MADA: “While we were covering the weekly demonstration in Al-Nabi Saleh, the IOF started throwing stun and gas grenades towards everybody including the journalists, no injuries were recorded but they forced us to leave the place. The journalists who were there are: Raya Network photographers Shadi Hatem (age 21) and Samer Nazzal (age 28), Ro’ya TV cameraman Mohammad Shooshe, the Iranian TV cameraman Khaled Sabarne and the chief editor of the Public Relations commission website Zaher Abu Hussein (age 46).

3/1- The Monitor Website correspondent in Gaza Mohammad Othman (age 28) was interrogated and threatened for his report “Executing people accused of spying for Israel” that was accomplished according to an interview Othman made with the spokesperson of the resistance committees. Othman reported to MADA: “On 3/11/2014 I made a filmed interview with the spokesperson of the resistance committees Ali Shishniyye for an investigative report on executing people accused of spying for Israel during the latest attack on Gaza. On 1/1/2015 my report was published on Ikhbariyyat online network and on 2/1 the resistance committees distributed a statement through an SMS refuting what was said in the report, they also said that their Secretary General did not check the files of these accused people before executing them. I should point out that their spokesperson assured during the interview that the Secretary General checked these file before the execution.”

He added: “On Saturday 3/1/2015 Shishniyye called me and told me that he did not say the words I reported in my report and I reminded him that the interview was filmed with his approval. So he said: if I said inappropriate things you should have told me (trying to put the responsibility of what he said on me). At the end of the call he told me that the resistance committees were angry at me and they would send people to threaten me (which did not happen); he also asked me for a meeting on Sunday but by that time he called and apologized and postponed it until Monday.

He added: “I went to their office on Monday, the three persons who talked to me were: Ali Shishniyye, Abdul Basit Abdul Hadi, and a third person I did not recognize. They told me that what Shishniyye said was not right and he was not sure about it. They asked: ‘How come did you publish what he said?? And how come did you publish security information?? And what is your business in publishing about the executions?’ I told them that I published what Shishniyye said and that I am not responsible for his mistakes, plus that I have the right to write on whatever I want.”

Othman added: “Abdul Basit Abdul Hadi told me to get out of the office and do whatever I want. When I tried to exit they followed me, pulled me from the hair, one of them scratched my hand and said ‘We will teach you a lesson.’ I felt the danger by that time and told them that some people are waiting for me and they know where I am, then one of them shouted at me saying: ‘Who are these people??? Are you connected to the occupation???’ Then I left the office.”

4/1- The Palestinian Preventive Security Forces summoned Al-Aqsa TV correspondent Ala’ Al-Titi (age 32) from Hebron. He reported to MADA: “One of the Preventive Security officers summoned me with an official paper to go to their headquarters in Hebron the next day. He asked me not tell anyone about the summons but I posted it on my Facebook page.”

His brother Abdul Qader reported to MADA that the Preventive security did not summon or call Ala’ again.

10/1- The Palestinian Police in Gaza prevented Filisteen Al-Yaum cameraman Baha’ Rabee’ (age 27) and Palestine Public TV cameraman Ibrahim Al-Atleh (age 27) from filming a sit-in in Beit Lahya and seized the material they filmed. Rabee’ reported to MADA: “While my colleague and I were filming a sit-in against the power cut in Beit Lahya, the police came and prevented us from filming claiming that there was no permit for the sit-it. They also told us to go to the police station where they took the camera memory cards and deleted all the stuff and asked us to come and get them back after two days.”

11/1- The Israeli police and intelligence service summoned the public relations and media director of the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf Firas Al-Dibs (age 29). Al-Dibs reported to MADA: “On 11/1/2015 the Israeli police came to arrest me and when I refused they gave me summons to go to Al-Qashle investigation center. When I went there they interrogated me for an hour about my work as a journalist who covers Al-Aqsa mosque news and they released me and asked me to return the next day. On Monday they interrogated me about the same subject but warning me because I publish sensitive news. I answered that am doing my job as a journalist then they released me after an hour and a half.”

14/1- The Palestinian Intelligence service seized a money transfer sent for Anatolia news agency correspondent in Nablus Lubaba Thuqan (age 29) and they summoned her for interrogation at their headquarters. She reported to MADA: “On 14/1/2015 I headed to the agent of the Western Union in Nablus to take my money but the employee told me that I cannot get my money and asked me to sign a paper that I received it nonetheless. He also told me that the Palestinian intelligence was seizing the money.  

She added: “On Thursday I went to the Western Union agent office with Ja’far Eshtayye as representative of the journalist syndicate and the captain of the intelligence service Ra’ed Abu Khaled who told me that the intelligence service want me to go to their headquarters on Saturday with a written proof from Anatolia Agency and a bank statement summarizing the content of my account. On Saturday my colleague Ja’far went to the intelligence headquarters where he had been told that I can get my money now.”

15/1-  intelligence service members prevented the freelance journalist Mus’ab Ibrahim Sa’eed (age 24) and other journalists from covering a sit-in in Birzeit, they dragged Sa’eed with his photographer colleague Jihad Al-Qadi and the media student at Al-Quds University Muath Makhamre to the police station in Ramallah. Sa’eed reported to MADA: “On Thursday we headed to cover a sit-in organized by the families of Birzeit University students against political arrests. Some members of the intelligence service prevented my colleague Jihad Al-Qadi, the media student Muath Makhamre and I from taking photos, they dragged us to the police station in Ramallah and detained us for 3 hours, then they released us, but kept Muath detained until 9 PM then sent him to the intelligence service headquarters.

Muath reported to MADA: “They started interrogating me about for whom I work as a photograph and whether I have political affiliation to Hamas. I told him that I am only a journalist, then he interrogated me about my personal life and my family. At 4 PM he took me to the intelligence headquarters, and the officer there asked me the same questions about photographing and political affiliation to Hamas, he also opened my chats on Facebook. Before they released me at 9:00 PM, they made me sign my testimony.

According to Sa’eed, other journalists were in the place but they left it when they were told to, these were: Palestine Public TV cameraman Saher Sa’ayde and Al-Jazeera staff.

16/10- WAFA agency photographer Ayman Noubani (age 29) was injured in his knee by a gas bomb thrown by the IOF. He reported to MADA: “I was covering the weekly demonstration in Kafr Qadoum north of West Bank where the IOF targeted all the journalists with tear gas bombs including: Nidal Eshtayye, Ja’far Eshtayye, Ala’ Badarne, Abdul Rahim Qousini and Palestine Public TV correspondent Anal Al-Jada’ and cameraman Mohammad Enaya. We were standing far away from the protesters. One teargas bomb hit my left knee causing minor injury; I went to Rafidia Hospital in Nablus city where I got treatment.”

19/1- The IOF arrested Huna Al-Quds editor Mujahed Bani Mifleh (age 24) from Ramallah. The director of Huna Al-Quds Mazen Awwad reported to MADA: “On 19/1 the IOF raided Mujahed’s house, they searched it before arresting Mujahed. According to Mujahed’s mother the IOF seized two computer devices in addition to one cellphone.”

The lawyer Naseem Abu Ghoush said that he appeared in front of the court on 21/1 in Petah Tikva, and they extended his detention for 12 days for further investigation. Mujahed was arrested without trial due to a complaint filed against him by the Israeli police on “providing service for an illegal party.”

In the court session that was held on 1 February they extended his detention again to complete the interrogation and transferred his file to the military prosecution.( Another session court on 5/2 held at Salem Military court, decided to release him).

19/1- The correspondent of Al-Riyadh Saudi newspaper Maha Abu Owaimer (age 38) was assaulted by an anonymous person in Gaza city. Abu Owaimer reported to MADA: “I was heading to the medical analysis laboratory, in Aljalaa Street, Al-Rimal neighborhood in Gaza city yesterday evening (6:40 PM) when I noticed a man following me. When I left the laboratory I noticed that he was still following me and before arriving to the street, I saw his shadow raising his arm to beat me. I tried to avoid the hit but he hit the right side of my head and when I started yelling, he put his hand on my face and mouth trying to silence me. Then he started shouting at me saying ‘Shut up and do not yell,’ I thought he was a thief so I managed to give him my handbag but he did not take it and kept beating me with a cudgel on my head. At that time my jacket held his action back, then he fell on the ground and ran away.”

Abu Owaimer added: “I ran quickly to a nearby supermarket while shouting, there was a doctor who saw me and examined me. I am waiting for a medical report from the hospital for results of this assault; I also got a videotape from the suspended cameras in the place of the assault and handed it to the police.”

Abu Owaimer emphasized that this was not a robbery assault since the attacker did not take her handbag; she also said that it was not a sexual harassment. She added: “I cannot assert if it was to silence me since I do not write negatively about anyone on my Facebook account, despite my political affiliation to Fatah.”

20/1- The Palestinian General Investigation summoned the freelance journalist Muath Al-Amleh (age 24) accusing him of insulting the mayor of Qabalan (south of Nablus) municipality on his facebook. Al-Amleh reported to MADA: “On 20/1 I received summon from the general investigation in Nablus to go to their headquarters on the same day, I went and they told me that Qabalan municipality mayor filed a complaint against me accusing me of insulting, threatening and libeling him. I denied the accusation and asked for the reasons of the mayor filing a complaint against me.”

He added: “They detained me in a solitary confinement until 9 PM until the head officer called me and I told him the whole story. He released me at 10:30 PM to go to the prosecution office on the next day. I went and told the story again, then I appeared in front of the magistrate of Nablus who, after listening to Qabalan mayor, decided to release me until the next court session on 25/2.”

21/1- The Palestinian Preventive Security Forces in Hebron summoned Alam radio station anchor Muntaser Nassar (age 26), interrogating him about his work and his writings. He reported to MADA: “I went to their headquarters according to their official summons. The Preventive security threatened me three times indirectly via my friends. When I asked them to interrogate me quickly since I had a live radio program at 12:00, the officer told me that I will not be working in media again.”

He added: “They interrogated me for half an hour about my previous arrests - I was arrested twice by the preventive security and twice by the intelligence service - with the accusation of insulting and cursing the president. They also interrogated me about my writings on Facebook after they asked for my password and opened the account, especially about a status I wrote in a form of an official letter to the Prime Minister asking him to dismiss all the Palestinian Authority spokespersons because they do not help journalists. This angered the West Bank spokesperson even though I criticized the policy of the Authority and not specific persons.”

Nassar added: “The officer wrote my testimony then I waited for two hours, then they interrogated me again for another 20 minutes. They asked me about my job, my salary, my colleagues’ names and their political affiliation and who is the manager of the radio as well as what is the source of the funding the radio gets. I waited for an hour then they gave me my ID and the officer advised me to stop criticizing the Palestinian Authority. I later figured out that I was released with the efforts of the Journalists’ Syndicate and the Independent Commission for Human Rights.”

22/1- The IOF arrested Al-Aqsa TV correspondent in Hebron Ala’ Al-Titi (age 32). His brother Abdul Qader reported to MADA: “The IOF arrested Ala’ on 22/1/2015 after raiding his house breaking the doors and the windows glass. They took Ala’ to a place we do not know and we wrote to the Red Cross and the complaint office to help us know where he is.”

Abdul Qader reported in another testimony: “Ala’s court session was held on 26/1 at Ofra court(near Ramallah), he was accused of working with the ‘terrorist’ Hamas TV station Al-Aqsa.” Pointing out that the lawyer Ihab Al-Ghaleeth requested to release Ala’ on bail, but this would allow the prosecution to arrest him without trial. Therefore, the court was postponed until 29/1.

The court session was held on 29/1 and it was postponed again until 5/2 without saying anything about his issue.

23/1- The Palestinian Intelligence service arrested the media student and head of the media club at Birzeit University Bara’ Al-Qadi (age 22) accusing him of insulting an official. 

Bara’s sister, Tasneem, reported that on 23/1, her brother received summon to go to the headquarters of the intelligence service in Ramallah on Monday. “Bara’ went on time and we waited for him to return until the evening but he did not. He called me from a private number asking me to send him some clothes,” Tasneem said.

Addameer lawyer Mohannad Karaje said that on Tuesday 27/1 Bara’ appeared to the General Prosecution and then to the court. Karaje said: “Bara’ was accused of insulting an official and his detention was extended for another 48 hours pending further investigation.”

Bara’ reported: “I appeared to the General Prosecution on the second day of my detention, they interrogated me about statements I wrote on my Facebook account, and they accused me of insulting the head of the intelligence service Mr. Majed Faraj. They also interrogated me about being a facilitator in a seminar held at the university; they accused me of representing Hamas, they also asked me about my political affiliation. The interrogation lasted for 3 days and later my file was closed and they released me without guarantees.”

24/1- The IOF assaulted Akhbar Al-Quds photographer Amin Alawiya A.K.A Rami Allariya (age 42) while he was covering a demonstration in Al-Aizariyya in Jerusalem. He reported to MADA: “While I was covering a demonstration in Al-Aizariyya against the apartheid wall, the IOF told me to leave the place. I went home where I found a military vehicle and the soldiers started shooting at me. I heard one of them calling my name asking me to get closer. When I did, 7 soldiers severely beaten and kicked me, they also treaded on me. One of them told me that the intelligence service told them to keep an eye on me. Afterwards I was sent to Ma’ale Adumim settlement(east of Jerusalem), where they accused me of disrupting the IOF work. Then I was released with a 2,000 NIS (about 500$) bail until the holding of the court session on 22/8/2015.”

26/1- The Preventive Security forces interrogated the freelance journalist Khaled Ma’ali (age 48) from Salfit (north of West Bank). He reported to MADA: “I received a summons on 25/1 saying that I should go to the preventive security forces headquarters the next day at 10:00. I went and waited for an hour before they started interrogating me about my work as a journalist and the articles I publish. I was released after an hour of interrogation.”

 

 

Photographer Rami Allariya (Photo By: Almsqubl Media Center)