MADA: 15 violations against media freedoms in Palestine, during February.
Ramallah- 15/03/2017- February (2017) witnessed a significant decrease in total number of violations against media freedoms in Palestine; compared to previous month.
The Palestinian center for development and media freedoms “MADA” monitored a total number of 15 violations against media freedoms including (9 violations committed by Israeli Occupation Forces, and a total of violations committed by different Palestinian apparatuses).
Noting that, January witnessed a total of 30 violations against media freedoms.
There has been a significant decrease in the number of Israeli violations against media freedoms, reflected a marked decline on the total number of monitored violations during the month of February. Total number of Israeli violations declined from 20 during the month of January to 9 violations during February.
Among the most prominent Israeli violations recorded during February, was transferring journalist Mohammed Al-Qiq to administrative detention for three months after he was rearrested by IOF after nearly eight months of his release.
An Israeli occupation officer assaulted physically the photographer of Associated Press (AP) Emad Mohammed Saeed, which led to slight fractured of his rib cage.
Besides, the arrest of journalist Mohammed Hantash, and wounding the journalists Nidal Shtayyeh and Ayman Nubani with rubber bullets by IOF during their coverage of a demonstration in Kufor Qaddoum against settlements, where settlers attacked the photographer Zaher Abu Hussein, public relations officer of the commission against the separation wall and settlements.
Palestinian violations declined during February and confined all in the West Bank, on the contrary to what was recorded during January that witness 10 violations 9 of which were committed in Gaza.
Despite the significant decline in total number of violations to eight, but the portion of such abuses raises serious concern of the significant use of violence, as the most prominent was the arrest of journalist and editor at local TV Al fajer Al jadeed in Tulkarem city Sami Al Sa’ee, who was subjected to severe torture during his detention period, that lasted 20 days.
Palestinian intelligence arrested presenter in radio Marah and in the Arab weekly British newspaper Mohammed Saeed Abu Jheisheh in a brutal way from his home in Hebron and mistreated and beaten him during his detention, which lasted three days.
February Violations in details:
(02/02)- Palestinian intelligence service in Tulkarm arrested journalist, news editor of Al-Fajer Al-Jadeed TV and correspondent of Quds Radio in the West Bank, Sami Said Al-Sa’ee and interrogated him on charges of inciting sectarian strife, several days later the court ruled to release him. But intelligence service rearrested him, he was deported to the interrogation center of the intelligence service in Jericho, and there subjected him to another interrogation that included severe torture where Sami reported to MADA following his detention that lasted 20 days, he said "I received a phone call on 01/02 for summon by the headquarters of the intelligence in Tulkarem, on 02/02 I headed there were they interrogated me regarding the statement of Qassam Brigades the military wing of the Palestinian Hamas organization that was published on the page of Al Fajer Al Jadeed TV (where I work) the statements mourns the Tunisian pilot who was assassinated on 17.12.2016( hamas said he was affliated with them and accused Israel of his assassination), I replied that the TV administration is responsible of the publication not myself”.
"he added “ we passed this subject, then they was confronted me of a phone calls I had with one of the elements of the Hamas office in Gaza (the part responsible of the follow-up of Tulkarem governorate), where I had worked with them for four months (between October 2015 and January 2016) I earned around 850$ for the preparation of a list of citizens who were detained by Israel and other political detainees in Tulkarm, knowing that after four months in February 2016 I stopped completely. Afterwards I was arrested by the Israeli occupation on a different charge. During the interrogation the Palestinian intelligence agents took me to the bank were we demanded a financial statement that showed this amount. Based on that, I was accused of another charge that is taking advantage of this work to recruit security elements in favor of Hamas, which I denied. On 08/02 my lawyer called for my release on bail because moot charges against me (inciting sectarian strife) has not been proven. Hence, I was released but when I got outside door of the headquarters of the intelligence, before I left its arena I was arrested again, and after about 15 minutes they moved me from Tulkarm to the Central Bureau of investigation of the General Palestinian intelligence in Jericho”.
Al Sa’ee clarified” "in Jericho they started interrogating me about the charge of recruitment of security agents in favor of Hamas (the charge I already denied).Whence the investigation took a new direction, where they opened my account on Facebook site and checked my personal conversations with my friends and asked about my relationships with these friends, and started to put pressure on me through torture”.
At first the first night I was blindfolded and handcuffed with the (Shabeh) position for nearly three hours, the next night they tied my hands to the back with a long rope, I was hanged to the ceiling of the cell for half an hour meanwhile I was being beaten and insulted all included threats. They took me down and then they brought me back to the Bureau of Investigation, and there they lift my legs and hit them (falaqa) over an hour and a half until my feet swelled, afterwards they were forcing me to dance (dabkeh) When I refused they continued to beat me. The next day also I was beaten on my legs, they tied my hands back in the cell and I was detained without bedding or cover for the entire day, and then they tied my hand and asked me to walk as a dog, all apart from the threat to disclose / My documents / that I did not know what it was, this torture lasted for three days.
Afterwards, their treatment has changed and gave me an offer, in case of confession and disclosed all needed information; I will be treated differently as an intelligence officer they will provide me with protection and will allocate a monthly salary for me. I was informed that two officers from the intelligence will develop a full plan for me on how to work, and if I refused, they will reveal all my files, I replied, reveal my files and I will not accept the offer”
In his testimony Al Sa’ee added "they resumed the beating and torture again that lasted for five days, after that, my mother visited me, my health condition was very bad,(I was taking painkillers and injections Decort and rufinal due to the severe pain in different parts of my body, as the prison doctor was very professional and treated me in a very humane way, noting that by that time certain areas of my body were almost doped I did not feel particularly areas that were tied), I was asked not to disclose anything about the investigation, but I whispered to her that I was subjected to torture, and then it was spread amongst the media, after that they backed away from torturing me and told me that I have caused a problem and threatened me. Then I suggested to call the head of the Palestinian journalists syndicate Nasser Abu Bakr to clarify the matter, and therefore he visited me the next day accompanied with Mousa Al Sha’er and Mohammed al-Lahham from the syndicate, we talked (we were alone) I denied what was spread in the media that I was subjected to torture despite the fact that I tried to hint what I actually faced, where I said that currently I am in the central interrogation office and everyone knows what conditions and how these cases are handled, and I explained the charges against me, I was astonished that they came out talking that I received a special treatment although I informed them that I was detained in a cell”.
Al Sa’ee added "after the departure of the representatives of the journalists syndicate I received thanks from the investigating officers for the positive reaction, and that I followed their recommendations, and then I was informed that the Independent Commission for Citizens' Rights also are going to meet me, and I have to know what I shall say. There were three employees from the Commission I only recognized one, and because I didn’t trust them all, I informed them that I was not tortured, although they tried reassuringly inviting me to open up and talk freely about the conditions of detention. Afterwards, someone from Al-Haq (who I don’t remember his name) visited me, I trusted this person and told him everything that happened to me but after I was released I was amazed that he was contacted by my wife and he told her that I have denied being tortured”.
He added “Jericho mayor and the general director of the Intelligence in Jericho intermediated and other personalities such as the general persecutor , who ordered to bring me from the center to the prosecution center in Jericho, to hear my testimony of torture, based on my lawyer’s request, when I was transferred to the prosecution center in Jericho, I meet the public prosecutor there Iyad Badr, who asked me to explain everything I was exposed to, I told him everything, then he said that I will be presented to the coroner on Tuesday 21/02, he also informed me that he will visit the central intelligence interrogation headquarters in Jericho, as I told him that during the nights I used to hear lots of screaming due to torture. On the other day Tuesday 21/02 I was not presented to the coroner, I was transferred to Tulkarem under the request of Tulkarem public prosecutor Anan Abu Shanab who informed me that he wants to help me, and release me under a deal between him and my lawyer, that I should sign the first testimony I gave in Tulkarem, (before I was rearrested and deported to Jericho) based on the first charge of receiving which I recognized by (when I received $850) and to say when I appear before the Judge of being guilty, and that he would recommend commutation to the least possible time so that I can buy them and to be released immediately”.
He added” that was actually happened after nearly half an hour of this meeting I was transferred to the magistrate court, and was presented before the judge, after they recited the indictment list, I was charged of one year and three months (one year for disclosing information related to security / recruiting elements in favor of Hamas, a charge I never confessed, and another three months for receiving money 850$ based on the work I did, the public prosecutor demanded commutation as agreed, and asked the judge to minimize the period I was charge for three months only, I bought the remaining period as (one JD per day) and on Wednesday 22/02 I was released”.
(03/02)- The preventive security service in Ramallah summoned the general director of Al Quds TV in West Bank Alaa Hasan Jamil Al Rimawi (38 years) as he reported to MADA” Preventive security elements came to my home that is located in Beit Rima (north west of Ramallah)con Friday 03/02 afternoon at 16:00 to hand me a summon, when they did not find anyone at home, they tried to hand it to my neighbor who refused to receive it, they called me and told me about the summon on Saturday 04/02 at 09:00 am, I informed them of the current agreement between the Palestinian journalist syndicate and the Palestinian security apparatuses not to summon journalists unless on criminal acts, and these cases are only the police device tasks, the officer then accused me of being evasive, after the intermediation of several parties including the syndicate, I received a call from a friend of mine working in the preventive security service informing me not to spread the fact that I received a summon from the security service, and it was all a mistake, they apologized and it was over”.
(06/02)- the Israeli Occupation authorities sentenced journalist Mohammad Al-Qiq of 6 months administrative detention., the sentence was reduced to 3 months subject to renewal on the second day,while the decision to install the administrative detention came on 28/2 during a secret session that was held between Israeli court and public prosecution, he began hunger strike on 06.02.2017 protesting being re-arrested and detained administratively, as reported by his wife Fayha’ Shalash to MADA (he stopped his hunger strike on March 10 after an agreement to be released on April14).
Al-Qiq was arrested on 21/11/2015 and was transferred to administrative detention on 20/12/2015, where he started hunger strike for 93 days, he was released on 21/05/2016. Afterwards IOF re-arrested Al-Qiq from a military checkpoint on 15/0/2017, nearly after 8 months of being released,
(06/02)- IOF detained Palestine Today TV crew, while conducting a report on settlers violations against citizens of Duma village as reported by the head of Palestine Today office in Nablus Rima Al A’mleh to MADA”on 06/02 around 10:00 am Palestine Today crew that included ( the reporter Baker Mohammad Abdulhaq 27 years, videographer Sameh Nazeeh Darwazeh 25 years, with the presence of the head of the village council of Madama / Nablus governorate) to conduct a report on systematic violations of the settlers against the southern neighborhood citizens of the village, all the crew were detained with the cameras by IOF for a period of an hour and a half, after the intermediation of the (Palestinian) military liaison they were released and returned their cameras, but IOF detained them once again for a period of half an hour then they were released at around 12:00pm”.
(07/02)- Israeli settlers attacked the photojournalist of "commission against the wall and settlements Zaher Faeq Abu Hussein (49 years) as he returned from Salfit (north of West Bank), he was attacked with stones, as Abu Hussein reported to MADA "around 5:00pm during my return from Salfit to Ramallah at the crossroads settlement Ofra were the IOF concentrated there to facilitate the movement of trucks, once a settler stopped in the middle of the street with another two on my left, I immediately stopped feared of recording it as run over accident. The settler started shouting while getting near the window, I shouted to him why are you screaming, telling him that I am a journalist and I showed my badge (international press card), he started cursing me, I opened the door and pushed him away, the other two settlers started throwing stones at me one of the stones injured my thigh and my left arm, and two other stones on my back, aside from the stones that hit my car leaving holes and damages, also there were three other settlers, and when I saw them I went back to my car and set off quickly, and when I arrived to Ramallah, I headed toward Palestine medical Complex and receive the necessary treatment for three hours ."
He also added “I filed a complaint at Ramallah police station and another for the Israeli liaison through the Palestinian liaison office”.
(09/02)- Palestinian Intelligence service arrested the presenter in radio Marah and journalist in the Arab weekly British newspaper Mohammed Saeed Abu Jheisheh (32 years) from Hebron after they raided his house at night, he was beaten, as he reported to MADA "On 09/02 midnight a force of 11 armors of the Palestinian intelligence service raided my house in Hebron, where they smashed the window of the balcony without providing a search warrant, even though they told me that they have it, and they confiscated my mobile, my computer and my wife’s phone, and I was taken to the intelligence service headquarters in Hebron without an arrest warrant, meanwhile, I was physically assaulted”.
He added “at the intelligence headquarters I was detained in a cell measuring about two meters square, in a very poor condition, on Friday morning I was taken to the detention room containing only a chair (not a cover no mattress), and remained until they started interrogating me, they extracted numbers of recent phone calls I made, the interrogator intercepted a phone call between me and the spokesman of the police in Gaza Ayman Albtunaij, I told him I was a journalist I was going to host him on my program on the air, I called him from the radio’s phone and my personal phone but he did not respond. The officer checked all my personal messages in the phone, they recovered all deleted images until four years ago, and when I asked him about the agreement that was signed between the journalists' syndicate he told me / soak it and drink its water/ “.
He added “I was released on Saturday 11/02 at 10:00, when they did not find any evidence. But I was handed another summon to follow up with the intelligence office on Wednesday 15/02”.
In a different testimony to MADA “on Tuesday 14/02 I headed to the intelligence headquarters with Mohammad Al-Lahham the head of the freedoms committee at the journalists syndicate, they returned all my belongings, and asked me to follow up with them once again on Sunday 19/02- without an official summon- to discuss my posts on Facebook”.
He clarified that once he arrived they informed him that this time he was not called for summon, and informed him that they have a department for complaints where he can file one, regarding the bad treatment he received during the detention, he filed a complaint and left.
(10/02)-Photographer of Chinese news agency "Xinhua" Nidal Shafiq Shtayyeh (46 years) wounded in the northern of the West Bank, with a rubber bullet in his knee. while covering the weekly demonstration against settlements, as he reported to MADA” while my colleague and I were coverage the weekly demonstration of anti-settlement in the village of Kufr Qaddoum and just after Friday prayers, IOF started targeting journalists by who oppressed the march which led to my injury with a rubber bullet in my left leg behind the knee fired by the IOF, and my colleague Ayman Nubani photographer of WAFA agency was injured with a rubber bullet in his right shoulder but It did not cause him any physical damage as he was wearing the protective shield. "
He added” at first I received the first aid in the field then I was transferred with an ambulance to Rafidya Hospital (Nablus) where I was examined and it was only a superficial injury, I was cured with painkillers and left the place”.
The photographer of WAFA agency in Nablus Ayman Amin Nubani (30 years) reported to MADA “ while I was covering the weekly demonstration in Kufor Qaddoum protesting the settlements, I was shot with a rubber bullet in my left should, that happened when IOF started targeting journalists to separate them, the injury was partial and did not leave any physical damages”.
(14/02)- IOF arrested the presenter of Radio Aaiko (local station in Ramallah), Hamam Mohammad Ali Hantash (26 years) after raiding his family’s house, as his father Mohammad Hantash reported to MADA “at around 01:30 am of 14/02 as a troop of IOF raided our house in / Dura Hebron /, as around 15 Israeli soldiers raided the house”.
He added “IOF detained us in the sitting room and searched the house accurately and the roof and asked for our identities (me and my son Humam), and before they left the house, nearly after 45 minutes, they returned my identity, and remained Humam’s ID and his mobile phone in their possession, and told him that he was arrested. Now he is being held at Etzion. "
(20/02)- Israeli Intelligence summoned the producer of the “Zionist scene” program, at Al-Quds TV Imad Mahmoud Abu Awwad (33 years), and interrogated him. As he reported to MADA” on 17/2 I received a phone call from the occupation intelligence asking me to appear before them on 20/2 for investigation, and when I went as scheduled to the Ofer prison(near Ramallah) I was under interrogation for three hours and a half, the investigation focused on routine questions, about previous arrestments, and then I was released at about 2:30pm”.
(24/02)- An Israeli occupation officer assaulted physically (beat) the photographer of The Associated Press (AP) Emad Mohammed Saeed (48 years), while he was covering the anniversary of the massacre of the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron, the assault led to a slight fracture in the rib cage, as Saeed reported to MADA “at around half past two I was inside the old city of Hebron to cover the anniversary of the Ibrahimi Mosque massacre. I was standing away about 30 meters from the soldiers when an Israeli officer came towards me from behind and asked me / Why are you looking at me / I told him that I am only covering the event. so he pushed me and told me to move away from the place I told him to not use force/ his hands, and that I'm going, so he hit me with the weapon in his hand on my chest, and I told him once again to talk to me without violence and without using his hands. Then he called another officer who hit me in the same area, when other officers intermediated and removed him from the scene. I left the place and with so much pain. After several hours I could not handle the pain so I went to Alia Hospital in Hebron and after the x-rays, it appeared that a slight fracture in the rib cage, the doctors told me that it needed at least 20 days of rest to heal”.
(26/02)-Facebook company blocked the personal page of FATAH political party, under the pretext of violation the Facebook norms and condition, for one day, claiming that what happened was a technical mistake, noting that they blocked a page followed by at least 70,000viewrs and that happened more than once during the past six months, where information officer in the mobilization and organization office in Fatah Mounir Radi Aljaghub (41 years) admin of the page reported to MADA "for about six months and management of Facebook is to ban those responsible for the publication (Admins) on the page followers exceed 70,000 people, and they ban the page for days, for publishing photos of martyrs, for example”.
He also added” on 16/02 we published old photos of the Yaser Arafat, near him the leader Mahmoud Al-Aloul checking a weapon (Kalashnikov) was with an Israeli Soldier who was kidnapped in Beirut mid of the eighties last century. It was an old photo that was published more than once on the same account, also we published other photos for Al Amour martyr covering his face and holding a stone in his hand. We were astonished that after ten days we received a message from Facebook on 26/02 saying that the page will be blocked for violating Facebook rules, and the admins will be blocked for a period of 30 days each.”
Jaghoub added ”I contacted several international press parties and finally I received a phone call from the American Embassy saying that they intermediated and solved the issue with Facebook, on 27/02 Monday they activated the page and apologized, claiming it was a technical mistake”.