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MADA: 27 violations of media freedoms by the Israeli Authorities, and one by Palestinians during october .

Ramallah-8/11/2017 The Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA) monitored 28 attacks against media freedoms in Palestine During October 2017,  (while in September there was 26 violations). The Israeli occupation carried out 27 attacks, while a single Palestinian violation was monitored.

 

Israeli violations:

The number of violations committed by the Israeli occupation forces increased from 22 in September to 27 during October, all of which were serious attacks. They were even the most serious of all violations of media freedoms recorded combined in a single month since the beginning of 2017.

Israeli attacs included storming 10 offices and headquarters of Pal Media, Trans Media and Ramasat  media companies in the cities of Ramallah, Hebron, Bethlehem and Nablus, confiscating their property and turning 94 journalists and employees working in these institutions jobless. These media companies used to provide at least 15 local, Arab and foreign TV channels with media services.

 Not only did these companies lose their work with these TV channels, but they have also endured heavy losses of equipment as a result to the destruction and confiscation of property. In addition, these companies will be closed for the next six months, which endangers their reputation in the market and their ability to compete among other companies following this six-month-closure order. This is what the Israeli occupation forces are aiming at: preventing converge of their attacks against Palestinians.

The Israeli occupation forces arrested four journalists, two of them working for Trans Media, who were arrested during the attack on the company’s offices. These two were Amer al-Jaabari, Hebron Office Manager, Ibrahim al-Jabari, the administrative director of the same office. The Security personnel of Israeli Prime Minister have tried to subject Safadi, the European Press correspondent, to disgraceful and humiliating search while he was heading to cover the visit of Prime Minister of Australia. Because he rejected that, he couldn’t cover the event, and rather left.

 

Palestinian violations:

Palestinian violations continued to decline, dropping from four violations in September to one single violation during October, and that was only by summoning and interrogating a media reporter in the West Bank.

This apparent decline in the number of Palestinian violations indicates that the internal political division and the resulting tension used to fuel most of these violations. The atmosphere of reconciliation and the declared intentions of both parties both had a positive impact on all aspects including media freedoms.

 

Details of violations

October 2nd: The Israeli army arrested Al-Aqsa TV correspondent Amir Khalil Abu Aram, 24, from his home in Birzeit, north of Ramallah. His mother reported to MADA: “Israeli soldiers stormed our house in the town of Birzeit at 2:00 p.m. and went to the last floor where my son Amir lives. They broke the main door and confiscated his hard-desk and two mobile phones while arresting him.”

She added, “the next day, October 3rd, Amir was sent to the Ofer Military Court (where he is being held) but his trial was postponed until next Tuesday.”

October 2nd: The Israeli occupation army arrested Al-Aqsa TV reporter Alaa Jabr al-Titi, 35, after they stormed his house in al-'Arroub refugee camp south of Bethlehem. His brother 'Abd al-Qader that, “a large reported to MADA  “number of Israeli soldiers raided our house in al-'Arroub refugee camp at 2:50 during the night in a very barbaric manner. They opened fire in front of the house before entering. They searched the entire family house (which is made up of three storeys) They confiscated a mobile phone, a laptop, and cassettes and tapes belonging to Alaa and arrested him.”

According to preliminary information, the family said Alaa is now in Etzion Detention Center. His detention has been extended six times in a row (for two or three days each time). On Tuesday, October 31st, he will be on trial regarding his media work during the past two years.

October 6th: Rasha Ahmed Harzallah, 32, correspondent of Wafa News Agency suffered severe suffocation and exhaustion while covering an incursion by Israeli soldiers of a house of a ‘wanted’ young man in the Umm al-Sharayt in Ramallah. “At about 01:30 p.m.,” Rasha reported to MADA:  “clashes broke out between young Palestinians and the soldiers who fired rubber bullets and tear gas canisters at the demonstrators. As soon as they stopped, I lift my face mask. But they went back and I was unable to wear it again, as it was filled with gas. I almost suffocated, but I went into a women's beauty center. The lady working there helped me drink some water, and then I was given aid in an ambulance, which left the place at around 3:00 p.m. Although I was treated, I still felt a burning sensation all over my body, looking all red. These bombs must have included a new substance this time. After I went home I felt unusually inert until the next morning.”

October 18th: Israeli occupation forces simultaneously stormed 10 headquarters and sub-offices of three media production companies in the cities of Ramallah, Nablus, Hebron and Bethlehem. Under the pretext of incitement, these forces confiscated many contents and closed these offices. These companies have been operating for many years and provided media services for more than 15 television channels as well as Palestinian, Arab and foreign media organizations.

This dangerous wave of attacks included the storming, confiscating and destruction of equipment as well as the closure of the offices of Pal Media, Trans Media and Ramasat in the cities of Ramallah, Hebron, Bethlehem and Nablus. A total of 94 journalists and staff members used to be employed by these companies; meaning, they lost their jobs because of this closure. In addition, Amer Al-Jabari and Ibrahim Al-Jabari, both Manager and Managing Director respectively of Trans Media office in Hebron.

Ibrahim Bishara Alhusari financial manager of Trans-media reported to MADA “Israeli occupation forces stormed Trans Media headquarters in Al-Quds Bank building in Al-Bireh at around 2 am today (18-10-2017). They confiscated equipment in the office, which is used for television work, including cameras, editing equipment, and lighting equipment, besides , audio devices worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, and soon after their withdrawal we headed to the headquarters of the company and found that the doors were closed with iron panels suspended with closure military order of Trans Media for six months on the pretext that it provides services and facilities the work of  institutions that incite for terrorism. Noting that, we provide huge services to various media outlets such as Palestine today, TRT Turkish Arabic and English, AlGhad Al Arabi, the Arab channel, Orient, in addition to foreign channels such as the BBC ".

He also added "at the same time of storming the headquarters of the company in Albireh they also stormed other branches of the company in Nablus and Hebron, besides to confiscating several equipment and the order of shutting them down, noting that, IOF summoned the director of the Hebron office, Amer al-Ja’bari, and the administrative director Ibrahim al-Jabari, on the phone, claiming that they did not want to break into the office, and arrested them, afterwards, they directed  to Amer's house and confiscated his mobile phones".

Mahmoud Naji Zakarneh who works in photography and editing in Ramsat reported to MADA”the company's headquarters in Nablus and Ramallah have been stormed, all equipment and all media items have been confiscated, iron panels have been installed on the front door with a military closure order for a period of six months”.

He also added, “it is hard to estimate the value of what was confiscated, although they listed all items and equipment that were confiscated on the entrance that was later shut down for six months”.
Noting that, this was similarly repeated with the offices of Pal-media as IOF stormed its offices that are located in the ninths and tenth floor of “Palestine tower” in Ramallah, besides, its other offices that are located in Bethlehem, Nablus and Hebron, and confiscated most of its equipment and shutting the front door with metal panels and hanged a military closure order on its front door that states it is shut down for six months and warns not to comply, however, Pale-media provides media services to several TV channels including (Alquds, Russia today , Al-Mayadeen, Almanar and Syria)”.

The company’ offices have 29 employees in total, 20 of them work in the headquarters in Ramallah City.

 

October 23rd: The Preventive Security Service summoned Deia-Uddin Ali Haroub, 27-year-old,  media and field coordinator at the Social and Economic Policies Monitor in Ramallah. They questioned him regarding  his post on Facebook on Oct. 22nd, urging to prevent screening  of”cacse 23” film in “Movies day” festival in Ramallah city , directed by the Lebanese Producer Ziad Doueiri,  who accused by some Palestinian of normalization with Israel. Deia  reported to MADA “I received a call from the Preventive Security Service in Ramallah City, specifically from a person who called himself Mahmoud al-Bazar. He asked me to come to the Preventive Security headquarters at 10:00 a.m. the next day October 23rd, I asked him for an official letter of summons. But he told me it was only a meeting for a cup of coffee.”

“I went to the Preventive Security headquarters the next day, and I waited about 40 minutes, after which I was interrogated. At first, I was asked about my previous detention twice by the occupation forces, my university activities, showing me reports of these activities. I said I was one of many who objected to screening the movie in protest of normalization.”

"The interrogation session lasted until 3:45 p.m., and the interrogation session in general was respectful, friendly and free of any abuse. Once concluded, my mobile phone was returned to me and my ID card was released.”

 

October 30th: The security personnel of the office of the Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu tried to subject the photographer of the European Press Agency EPA Atef Nayef  Safadi, 50, to a humiliating search.

Safadi reported to MADA, “I went to cover the reception of the Australian Prime Minister in Netanyahu’s office at 5:00pm, as scheduled for the media staff. I arrived at the third hour, when I had to undergo a security inspection. Handing over my cameras, security members searched me. During the security search, I didn’t pass through the electronic inspection. So I asked the lady in charge of the personnel, am I not supposed to pass through the electronic inspection? She said no, and asked me to move to the physical inspection. The officer in charge was the same officer who searched me a year and a half ago in the same place, we remembered each other.”

Safadi added, “the Israeli officer asked me to take my pants off but I refused. The result was that I was prevented from entering to cover the event. I left the place and then I contacted the foreign journalists' union and told them what happened. They contacted their staff to leave the place in protest. The Israeli Channel 10 staff left the site in solidarity with me. The Freedoms Committee of the Israeli Journalists' Syndicate also sent a protest letter about what happened to the Israeli PM Office, although I am not a member of it.”

About 40 minutes later, I received a call from the head of the Prime Minister's press office telling me to go back to cover and I would go without inspection. I replied that it was too late to cover and I refused to go back.

 

A picture showing the occupation army storming the office of Trans Media