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MADA: 60 Attacks against Media Freedoms in Palestine during June

Ramallah – (12 July 2018) - the attacks against media freedoms in Palestine have continued to rise during June 2018, and have experienced a new rise. They totaled to 60 attacks, which reflect an increase of five cases as opposed to observed compromises during May.

June witnessed 32 Palestinian violations, and 28 committed by the Israeli occupation forces, in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. It should be noted that almost rarely the number of Palestinian violations exceeds the number Israeli violations.

The female journalists were not spared of these serious and broad assaults. The number of female journalists who were affected by these assaults during the last month totaled to 13, 8 of which were exposed to assaults by the Palestinian authorities in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Five female journalists were targeted by the occupation forces in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, one of them was exposed to arrest, while four were injured by rubber bullets and gas bombs while they were covering events in Gaza and the West Bank.

 

Israeli Violations

During June, the Israeli Occupation has committed 29 assaults, most of which were classified as serious and sexual assaults against media freedoms and journalists. A number of these assaults fall under the collective and “combined assaults” which affected more than one journalist and more than one type of assaults were committed at the same moment.

Throughout this month, Israel continued its targeting of journalists with live ammunition. It is worth noting that three journalists were injured by live bullets, namely: Mohammad Abdelraziq Albaba, a photographer at Agence France-Presse AFP, who was injured with gunshot in his foot while covering the events of the peaceful return march taking place in Abu Safiya, east of Jabalya refugee camp. A photographer of the Turkish Agency “Anatolia”, Ali Hassan Musa Jadallah who was shot in the palm of his right hand while covering the peaceful Return March east of Khan Younis, and the freelance journalist, Haitham Adnan Madoukh (working for the local Sky Press Agency) who was wounded by a gunshot through his left leg, below his knee, as he was covering the events of the peaceful Return March in the east of Gaza, which caused him severe laceration in the bones. Furthermore, two other journalists were injured with gas bombs shot directly at them, while a female journalist was injured with a rubber bullet in addition to the suffocation of dozens of journalists which resulted in four cases of fainting and severe respiratory distress which required immediate treatment and hospitalization at some health centers for various periods of time.

Additionally, the Israeli army and the intelligence services of the Israeli occupation has detained a total of five journalists in June. An Israeli court has prevented the Director of Elia for Media, Mr. Ahmad Hussein Al Safadi, from attending or covering any public event in Jerusalem for one month after being arrested by the Israeli police.

The Israeli police and the Israeli occupation intelligence service went so far to the extent they raided an Iftar ceremony organized by the Chamber of Commerce for the journalists, at the Ambassador Hotel in Jerusalem, and dispersed the journalists who have attended the ceremony totaled to 30.

 

Palestinian Violations

The Palestinian violations have witnessed a remarkable rise during June, jumping from four violations in May to at least 33 during this month, 10 in Gaza Strip and 23 in the West Bank.

The largest part of these Palestinian violations, which took place during June, are classified as serious violations. On top, the widespread violations committed by Palestinian security agents in civilian clothes against journalists while covering a peaceful sit-in, downtown Ramallah, on 13 June 2018, in addition to the violations similar in their essence and form committed by persons belonging to Hamas and security agents in civilian clothes against female and male journalists while covering the sit-in which was taking place at Al-Saraya Square, downtown Gaza, on 18 June 2018. These violations included physical assaults using sticks and hands against a number of journalists, as well as seizing some tools and destroying others, deleting the materials filmed by the journalists, in addition to preventing them from media coverage. This is in addition to the widespread and collective assaults which affected those taking part in both sit-ins (Ramallah and Gaza). It should be noted that these sit-ins were taking place to protest against the failure to pay the salaries of the Authority staff in Gaza Strip.

 

Details of Violations

(1st June) The freelance journalist, Haitham Adnan Madoukh (24 years old), working for Local Sky Press Agency, was injured by a gunshot while he was covering the events of the peaceful Return March taking place in the east of Gaza.

According to the investigations of MADA field researcher, while the journalist, Haitham Adnan Madoukh (24 years old), who was working as a freelance photographer in addition to his job at Local Sky Press Agency, was covering the events of the peaceful return march in Malka, to the east of Gaza, on Friday, corresponding 1 June 2018, a group of demonstrators were able to cut part of the separating fence, an old woman entered to the other side of the fence, raising in her hand the Palestinian flag, accompanied with two young men. At that moment, Madoukh approached the fence (but remained within the Palestinian side) to take photos of the woman, and he was shot by the Israeli Occupation soldiers with a barrage of gas bombs. When Madoukh put on the muzzle on his mouth to avoid the gas, an Israeli sniper shot him with a bullet which injured his lower left knee (causing an entry and exit). He was taken to Dar Al-Shifa Hospital, and there it was found that the bullet has caused him laceration in the lower knee bone, and has cut two veins. Three surgeries were performed to him, and his leg was placed in plaster. The journalist stayed for four days in the hospital. After he was discharged, he returned to the hospital five days later due to health complications. He stayed in the hospital again for a whole week. His blood tests showed that there was blood in his leg joint, which is why he had another operation and his leg was placed in plaster to heal the bone damaged due to the bullet injury, provided he followed up his situation later.

(3rd June) The Palestinian Preventive Security Service has arrested the reporter of Quds Net Network, Abdul Mohsen Al-Shalaldah, (25 years old), two consecutive times. He was summoned and questioned, and he reported in this regard “on 30 May, I received an official written subpoena to go to the Preventive Security Service in Hebron on 3 June 2018. On the scheduled day, indeed I appeared at the Preventive Security Council at 10:00 AM, on Sunday, corresponding 3 June 2018. Upon my arrival, I was detained in a cell and informed that I was arrested. After that, I was taken to the investigation room and I was questioned about my work in the field of media, my posts on my Facebook page, and about some of the reports I have once prepared on martyrs and prisoners. And then I was taken back to the cell. In the evening of the same day, and following the Iftar, I informed them that I was on a hunger strike. The officer came and asked me about the reason of my strike, and I replied that because I did not know why I was arrested, and I did not know if I would appear or not before the court. He informed me that my trial was scheduled on the following day, corresponding 4 June 2018. Indeed, on the following day, I appeared before Halhul Prosecution Office on the charge of stirring up sectarian through Facebook. I was subject to another investigation session which has lasted for half an hour to discuss the same subjects I was questioned about in my previous investigation. My arrest was extended for 24 hours. On the following day, corresponding 5 June, I appeared before the court, and it decided to extend my arrest for another two days after denying the Public Prosecution’s request to extend my arrest for 15 days”.

“On Thursday, corresponding 7 June, I appeared before the court, and it decided to release me on bail of an amount of 2000 JD. After I left the building, and before even I got in the vehicle which was taking me back to the headquarters, the officer took me back to the court on the charge of another case filed against me on the subject of cybercrimes law. A schedule of another hearing was set out for me on 27 September, not to mention a request to change the bail to a personal guarantee was also submitted to the court. I was released at about 2:00 PM on the same day, corresponding 7 June 2018” he added.

“At around 1:30, on 27 June 2018, by the afternoon, four persons showed up to my house, located in Al-Shoyoukh Town, in Hebron. They told my mother that I leave with them. I noticed an official letter they were holding, but could not read it. They informed me that it was a subpoena and asked me to leave with them immediately. I told them that I visited the Service Headquarters on 3 June, and was arrested for 3 days. One of them told me to review the headquarters in the time I deem appropriate. At 11:00 PM, on Saturday, corresponding 30 June, I went to the headquarter in Hebron. I was questioned by the officer, in general, about my work, the party I work with, the reason why the security service arrested me the last time during Ramadan, and the reason I was arrested by Israel in February 2018. He also inquired about the threats I was subject to through the Facebook and advised me to file a complaint. After that, I met the Director of the Preventive Security Service, and he actually spoke very friendly with me about the need for media professionals to dedicate their work for media issues only without addressing any other cases. I was released at about 12:00PM. Then I went to the Investigation headquarters in Hebron, filed an official complaint on the threats I was subject to through the Facebook”, he added.

 

(5 June) An Israeli occupation army force has arrested the journalist, Susan Abdelkareem Al-Owaiwi, (40 years old), from her house, in Hebron[1].

According to the statement made by Susan Al-Owaiwi’s husband, Osama Mohammad Al-Owaiwi, (46 years old), to MADA field researcher, three soldiers carriers, and an Israeli intelligence vehicle have arrived to their house located in Hebron, at 4:00 AM. 10 soldiers have raided the house. They asked for Susan’s ID and for her husband’s. They searched the husband and the officer spoke to him alone. He told him that his wife “makes troubles”. He asked him about her activities, and the husband replied that Susan works in the Municipality only and does not do anything else. The officer seized both of her phones (her cell phone and her work phone), as well as her laptop. Then he asked a female soldier to search her. They asked her to say goodbye to her family and prepare herself to leave with them, and she was arrested. Following this, the husband received a phone call from an anonymous number. The caller introduced himself as an officer in the Israeli police. He informed him that Susan was in Ashkelom Prison, and he conveyed her recommendation to take care of the children. The husband contacted Issa Qaraqe’ Office (the Minister of Detainees and Ex-Detainees) to follow up on her case. The advocate, Firas Al-Sabagh, informed him that her court hearing was scheduled on Thursday, corresponding 7 June 2018, but was postponed to 18 June 2018, and that the advocate was banned from visiting Susan until 10 June 2018.

Two years ago, Susan received a phone call from the Israeli intelligence, they asked her not to run for Hebron Municipality. This was followed by summoning her husband to Ashkelon to ask him to prevent his wife (Susan) from running for the Municipality elections which were to be held in that period but were postponed to 2017. She was appointed as a municipal council member in Hebron Municipality.

(5 June) The Occupation Police has arrested the Director of Elia, the journalist, Ahmad Hussein Al-Safadi (44 years old), from his house, located in Al-Sadiya Block, in the Old City of Jerusalem. An Israeli court has decided to ban him from taking part in any event (or covering any event) and to banish him from Al-Aqsa for one month. Al-Safadi reported to MADA “I was arrested at 2:30AM, on Tuesday, corresponding 5 June 2018, from my house, located in Al-Sadiya Block, in the Old City of Jerusalem. I was taken to the Mail Police Center, and then to the Maskobiyeh Investigation Center, where the investigation lasted until 6:00AM. The questions addressed to me were about Elia and its nature of work, its Director, and the reason of its closure. The officer also asked me about what was going to happen in the Naksa Anniversary and my role in this regard”.

Al-Safadi added “I was referred to the court on charges of complicity to contribute to the success of the Naksa events. The Public Prosecution requested an extension of my detention for six days, but the lawyer rejected due to the lack of evidences and the false accusations filed against me given the fact that I am a journalist and I have no role in the Naksa anniversary. The judge was convinced, and she released me on prohibitive conditions: paying a bail of 1500 NIS and a bail of 5000 (on paper), and being banished from the Al-Aqsa until 4 July, as well as prohibiting me from taking part in any sit-in or demonstration or march”.

 

(6 June) The Preventive Security Service has summoned the journalists, Amer Abdelhakeem Abu Arafa, the reporter of Shihab Agency and Orouba Media Network, Musab Abdelsamad Al-Tamimi, the reporter of “Quds News” Network, and Amjad Shawer, the Director of Hebron Radio. Abu Amer reported to MADA “I received a subpoena at my house on 27 May to go to the Preventive Security Service in Hebron. When I went there, the interview was more like an update of my personal data only. I was asked normal questions without addressing my work as a journalist, and the interview lasted for one hour approximately. On 6 June, I received another subpoena and so two of my colleagues: Musab Abdelsamad Shawer Al-Tamimi (27 years old), an editor and reporter of Quds News Network, and Amjad Shawer, the Director of Hebron Radio. We were summoned to go to the Preventive Security Service in Ramallah, at 10:00AM, on 11 June. I did not go noting that the Journalists’ Syndicate was aware of this subpoena, and has likely reached an understanding with the Preventive Security Service. As I learned from the Journalists’ Syndicate, the reason for the subpoena was posting about the death of President Abu Mazen in the previous period, although they apologized for this, knowing that I, Amer Abu Arafah, did not post anything about this subject”.

 

(8 June) The photographer of Barq News Agency, Shireen Mousa Anees Saloul (29 years old), from the Nuseirat refugee camp, was injured with a tear gas bomb while she was covering the peaceful return march taking place in the east of Bureij refugee camp in Gaza Strip.

According to the investigations conducted by MADA field researcher, Shireen, at around 2:30 PM, on Friday, corresponding 8 June 2018, went to the east of Bureij camp in the center of the Gaza Strip, accompanied by a group of journalists to cover the events of the peaceful return march, and there were demonstrators located 150-200 meters from the separating fence. The journalists were at a distance of 50-100 meters away from the demonstrators to cover the march. About an hour later, after the journalist Shireen Saloul took pictures of five demonstrators who were wounded, and at about 3:30, the Israeli soldiers on the other side of the fence fired several tear gas bombs against the journalist Saloul, which made her suffer suffocation and loss of consciousness for about a quarter of an hour. The paramedics have taken her to the medical point in the location, when they saw her situation did not get better half an hour later, they took her to Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital, in Deir Al-Balah, in the center of Gaza Strip. She received the necessary treatment, and another injury was found in her foot caused by a gas bomb which resulted in wounds, burns and swelling. While she was waiting for the X-ray, she lost consciousness for about half an hour again. She stayed in the hospital for about three hours and returned home at about 7:00 PM, but she continued to suffer from severe shortness in breathing and headaches during the following two days. She also suffered severe itching, which left her unable to return to work for two days.

 

(8 June) Palestine Today TV staff has suffered suffocation due to the 10 bombs fired against them by a small Israeli drone, on Friday, corresponding 8 June 2018. They were interviewing in Abu Safiya, to the east of Jabalia Camp, in Gaza Strip, even though they were far away from the demonstrators.

According to the investigations conducted by MADA field researcher, the staff, composed of: the reporter, Yousef Ahmad Abu Kuwaik, the assistant reporter, Mohammad Tawfiq Al-Najjar, the photographers, Osama Yasser Saleh, and Imad Al-Ajrami. They were interviewing an official from the Islamic Jihad Movement Office, Mr. Daoud Shihab, at a distance of 500 meters away from the border fence, in an area free from any clashes. A small Israeli drone has fired around 10 gas bombs directly above them, which made them suffer severe suffocation. The interview was suspended and the journalist walked away from the location. It should be noted that the staff were wearing the Press shield and helmet. After their injuries, they received the first aid by the medical staff.

 

(8 June) The photographer of AFP, Mohammad Abdelrazeq Abdullah Albaba (49 years old) was injured with a gunshot in his foot while covering the events of the peaceful return march taking place in Abu Safiya, to the east of Jabalia camp.

According to the investigations of MADA field researcher, the photographer, Albaba, at around 11:30AM, on Friday, corresponding 8 June 2018, was heading from his house in Abu Safiya, to the east of Jabalia camp to cover the events of the return marches. He was carrying with him the equipment and wearing the Press shield and helmet. He stayed in the journalists’ tent waiting for Friday prayer to end and the marches to begin. After the prayer ended about a quarter of an hour, the clashes erupted between the demonstrators and the Israeli occupation soldiers, who started firing gunshots and gas bombs sporadically at the demonstrators. Albaba was about 200 meters away from the separating fence near the medical staffs, watching the events. Few minutes later, a demonstrator was injured at a distance of 60 meters away from the separating fence, the paramedics went to take him, and Albaba went with them for filming (the time was around 2:00PM). In the meantime, the soldiers fired more gas bombs and gunshots directly against the demonstrators. Albaba was injured with gunshot in his right foot, and five other persons were injured as well. He was taken to the filed hospital, and from there to Al-Awda Hospital, to the north of Gaza Strip. The doctors informed him that he was injured with wounds and fractures in his right foot caused by live bullets. He had to undergo a surgery (he is still there … follow up. How long has he stayed in the hospital, were there additional details on his condition).

 

(8 June) The journalist, Israa Sameer Abdullah Al-Areir, (27 years old), a reporter of Quds Media Agency, and Women for Palestine Newspaper, has suffered suffocation.

According to the investigations conducted by MADA field researcher, the journalist, Israa Sameer Abdullah Al-Areir, arrived at around 4:30PM, on Friday 8 June 2018, to Malka, located to the east of Gaza Strip, to cover a photo exhibition that was held in the area on the subject of Jerusalem and Naksa, and to film a media story with the demonstrator, Reda Abu Zuhair, who is participating almost permanently in the marches, as well as to cover the latest march of return that day. The Israeli border guards forces have fired a barrage of gas bombs randomly at the demonstrators and journalists. As a result, she suffered suffocation, shortness in breath, dizziness, and back pain. She was taken by the ambulance to the field hospital, which was the nearest. She received the medical aid to mitigate the side effects of gas, but with no use, therefore, she was taken to Al-Quds Hospital and arrived at 5:30. She was given the necessary treatment, and even though her condition became better, the symptoms were inevitable which has rightly prompted doctors to keep her under observation for two days.

 

(9 June) The Israeli Police has raided an Iftar ceremony organized by the Chamber of Commerce for the journalists, taking place in Jerusalem. The Director of Elia, Ahmad Hussein Al-Safadi, (44 years old), has reported to MADA Center “The Chamber of Commerce in Jerusalem has organized an Iftar ceremony for journalists on June 9, 2018 at Jerusalem Hotel. Fifty female/male journalists were invited, 30 of which have actually attended, including (Ahmad Al-Safadi , Wehbe Makiya, Christine Renawi, Mohammed Abed Rabbo and others). 15 minutes after we arrived the hotel, an Israeli police force raided the place and prevented us from entering”.

 

(11 June) An Israeli Occupation Army Force has arrested the freelance journalist, Bilal Hamed Al-Taweel, (26 years old), after raiding his house, located in Hebron, noting that he was a member in Al-Anwar Arts Band for Islamic Chants and works in the montage of the band.

According to the investigations conducted by MADA field researcher, an Israeli occupation army force, at 5:00AM, on Monday, corresponding 11 June 2018, has raided the house of the journalist, Bilal Al-Tawil. According to the statement of Bilal’s brother, Mohammad Hamed Al-Tawil, about twenty soldiers have raided the house. The officer stood at the front door and told the family that they do not intend to search the house. He grabbed Bilal’s phone from his hand and informed him that they came to arrest him. They did not allow him to change clothes in his room, and he had to change in front of all the soldiers then they dragged him to the jeep. Following that, Mohammad (Bilal’s brother) has contacted the Head of the Prisoners Club in Hebron, Mr. Amjad Al-Najjar, and the Complaints Office in Jerusalem, to find out any information about his brother. The advocate Monther Abu Ahmad was appointed by the Prisoners Club to follow his case. A court hearing was scheduled for Bilal on 14 June 2018, but it was postponed to 20 June 2018, without characterization of the charge. On the same night, Bilal was arrested.

 

 

Photographer Shireen Saloul lying on the ground after being hit by a tear gas in the foot east of al-Bureij refugee camp in the Gaza Strip

 

 

(12 June) the Palestinian Preventive Security Service has arrested the journalist of TRT Turkish TV, Majdoleen Reda Hassouna, (28 years old), at Karama Crossing, on her way back from Turkey. She was questioned about the case of arrival tracing order filed against her. Hassouna reported to MADA “upon my arrival to Palestine, through the bridge (Karama crossing), at around 6:00AM, on 12 June 2018, on my way back from Turkey, the Preventive Security Service Officer informed me that there is an arrival tracing order against me which means I have to be arrested as soon as I arrive. He took me to the office, and informed me that I need to go to the Operations Director at the Preventive Security Service in Betunia/Ramallah”.

“The officer tried to contact the Preventive Security Service in Betunia, but it was too early. In the meantime, he started asking me questions like: what do I do for living, where do I write, where do I publish my writings, what is my political belonging, and what investigation I was subject to by the Israelis in 2014. The officer insisted to transfer me to the Preventive Security Service in Betunia immediately. But after he contacted one of Ramallah officers and told him that I was very quit, he decided to release me provided that I go to the Preventive Security Service in Betunia (without scheduling an appointment) so I can remove the tracing order against me. I was released at 8:30 AM.

 

(13 June) Palestinian security agents in civilian clothes have attacked no less than 12 female and male journalists and prevented them from covering a protest sit-in, that was taking place in Ramallah, against the sanctions impose on Gaza and to demand the payment of the employees’ salaries. These attacks have affected dozens of citizens in the protest even though the Palestinian police officers were there.

According to the investigations conducted by MADA field researcher, the activists and civil society organizations have called for a sit-in, downtown Ramallah, in 13 June 2018, by the afternoon, to protest against suspending the salaries of employees in Gaza Strip by the Palestinian Authority. However, one day before the sit-in, WAFA News Agency has reported news about the circular issued by the Palestinian President to all the governorates for “prohibiting the issuance of permits to launch marches or gatherings which may hinder and confuse the movement of citizens, or impact the progress of normal life during holidays”.

At 9:00PM, on 13 June, hundreds of Palestinian young people have gathered to demonstrate in downtown Ramallah. Journalists were there to cover the event, but were beaten and prevented from filming. Their cameras and phones were seized by the police, the Preventive Security, and the General Intelligence Service, who were in civilian clothes. These  attacks have affected at least 12 female and male journalists. These attacks were as follows:

  1. 10 of the Palestinian security agents, in civilian clothes have blindfolded the journalist, Hiba Hassan Erekat, (31 years old), who works for News Shasha Website, while she was live shooting with her phone. They handcuffed her even though she told them that she was a journalist and showed them the press card issued by the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate, they attacked her and she fell to the ground, not to mention that they tried to seize her phone.
  2. The Head of Al-Arabi Al-Jaded Newspaper Office in the West Bank, the journalist, Naela Husni Khaleel, (40 years old), was covering the sit-in taking place downtown Ramallah, standing near Rukab Ice Cream, and she was attacked by dozens of young people who were in “civilian clothes and wearing hats of Fatah movement, they started beating and pushing us even though I have not used the phone for filming”.

One of the security agents has hit her with his hand on her shoulder which caused her bruises and trauma. “The attackers were attacking us with sticks or their own hands. I spoke with the security man in the civilian clothes and said that it is not appropriate to attack women. Next thing I know, he started spraying pepper gas at my face without any reason. I fell to the ground, but then I was able to walk away from the location with the assistance of others. I went to the hospital, and after my condition got better, I went to inquire about some friends. Suddenly, the Palestinian Security agents in civilian clothes broke into the hospital, perhaps to arrest some of the injured demonstrators, at 12:00PM, on 14 June 2018”.

  1. The journalist, Jihan Hassan Awad, (35 years old), while she was covering the events with her cell phone, in Rukab Street, downtown Ramallah, one of the security men in civilian clothes pushed her, and then more than one security agent have intervened (all in civilian clothes) and seized her phone. They asked her to unlock the phone and delete the photos. One of them held her Press card, read her name, and addressed her saying “Jihan, do not film troubles and publish our dirty deeds”, she replied, “who are you?”, and he answered “an officer in the Preventive Security Service”. When she refused to stop filming the events, he threatened her with arrest.
  2. Arabi TV photographer, the journalist, Ethar Abu Gharbieh, (33 years old), has reported that security agents in civilian clothes have pushed, cursed and insulted him, and then seized the TV camera and prevented him from continuing his coverage of the events even two hours after recovering the camera. The same happened to his colleague, Yara Al-Amla, Arabi TV reporter, who stated that she was insulted while she was covering the sit-in, downtown Ramallah, by one of the security agents who was holding a transmitter/Walkie-Talkie, and addressed her saying “go to your home instead of roaming in the street”.
  3. Al-Ghad TV photographer, Mohammad Al-Khateeb, (34 years old), has reported that when he arrived to Al-Manara Square, downtown Ramallah, at 9:00 PM, on 13 June 2018, the police officers who were in their usual uniform (including an officer ranked with three stars and another one ranked as a major), asked the journalists to walk away from Al-Manara Square and not to film any of the events at all. Few minutes later, we went to cover the suppress taking place in Rukab Street (near Al-Manara Square), the next this I know, a number of security agents holding walkie-talkies started pushing me and taking down my camera, which is why I was unable to film and I had to return without finishing my job”.
  4. The reporter and photographer of “Palestine Today”, the journalist, Jihad Barakat, has reported “I was carrying my camera, next to Al-Manara Square, and holding my Press card around my neck. I went to Rukab street, and around 9:00PM, the demonstrators gathered 10-15 meters away from me started shouting and cheering. We started filming, directly after that, the security agents have fired sound bombs. Two persons in civilian clothes approached us, while I was standing with my colleague, Saed Howari, a photographer of Reuters, and threatened us with seizing and smashing the camera. I continued walking towards Rukab street, and tried to film again, however, I was threatened again by agents in civilian clothes. After that, I returned and approached Al-Manara square, and there was a group of persons (dozens) shouting for the Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, and putting on their heads white hats the same as the Palestinian keffiyeh. I tried to film that, but more several persons have put their hands on the camera and prevented me from filimg. I directly went to the Martyr Yasser Arafat square (Al-Sa’aa Square previously), and it was around 11:00PM, to interview Mr. Omar Assaf, one of the demonstrators in the sit-in. The next thing I notice, an officer from the special police has asked me not to interview, and another masked military officer from the special police have warned me “Jihad Barakat, be careful!”. I could not finish my job, I was prevented to complete it, in the full view of the police and the National Security Forces”.
  5. Al-Quds TV reporter, Alaa Hassan Al-Rimawi, (40 years old) has indicated that he was threatened by agents in civilian clothes. While he was at Al-Manara square, and Rukab street, at 9:35 PM, on 13 June 2018, a police officer asked him not to film. “a police officer approached us, and addressed us saying /walk away now!/after that, and while suppressing the march taking place in Rukab street, we were pushed and threatened with arrest by agents in civilian clothes” he reported.
  6. The photographers, Saed Subhey Howari (42 years old), a videographer of Thomson Reuters, Qutaiba mohammad Hammad, (26 years old), Al-Quds TV photographer, Abbas Al-Momani, a photographer of AFP in the West Bank, and Mohammad Ali Turkman, (50 years), a photographer of Thomson Reuters in the West Bank, were prevented and banned from filming and covering the events, not to mentioned they were threatened with smashing their camera, by security agents in Rukab Street, downtown Ramallah.

 

(18 June) The Israeli police and intelligence have arrested the 59-year-old journalist, Rasem Obeidat from a ceremony held at the Ambassador Hotel in Jerusalem on the occasion of the National Day of the Russian Federation, under the auspices of the Russian Federation Embassy and in the presence of the High Representative of the Russian Federation to the Palestinian Authority Dr. Haider Aganin. The police raided the ceremony, prevented its continuation and arrested six Jerusalemites, one of them was the journalist and writer, Rasim Obeidat. The police hanged the decision issued to prevent the continuation of the ceremony on the grounds that it is under the auspices of the Palestinian Authority and “terrorist organizations”.

According to the investigations conducted by MADA field researcher, on the evening of 18 June 2018, the Israeli occupation police and intelligence arrested the journalist and writer, Rasim Imad Ahmed Obeidat, (59 years old), a founding member of the Journalists Syndicate, while attending the national day ceremony of the Russian Federation at the Ambassador Hotel in Jerusalem, on the charge of “attending an illegal ceremony organized for the interest of a “terrorist organization”. He was held in detention and questioned for like an hour. The he was released at 6:00 PM, on a bail of 3000 NIS, provided he shall return at 10:00 on the following morning, 19 June 2018, to the Maskobiyeh Investigation Center to sign the investigation. His fingerprints, along with the other six detainees, were taken at 10:00AM, and then he was released. He was again contacted by the occupation forces, on Wednesday afternoon, corresponding 20 June 2018, to come to the Investigation room No. 4. After this phone call, he was also contacted by the Israeli investigator “Taimour” to cancel the scheduled appointment on Wednesday, and to come on Thursday, corresponding 21 June 2018, at 10:00 AM. After he left the house, and after the phone calls with the occupation intelligence, on Wednesday afternoon, an occupation force went to his house where he was not staying and handed over his brother, Maslama, an immediate subpoena. Rasim Obeidat was also contacted at 5:20 and asked to immediately come in a maximum of twenty minutes, he actually went there. Since the moment of his arrival, the intelligence service (in the presence of three of its agents) has begun the investigation and questioning him about the same previous charge. The investigation lasted about two hours (from 6:00 to 8:00). Obeidat has denied the accusations and claims against him, and he was arrested until the court hearing on Thursday, corresponding 21 June 2018. The intelligence has requested to extend his arrest, and remained in detention until Monday, corresponding 25 June 2018. He was released on limited conditions: a bail of an amount of 1500 NIS to be paid in cash, in addition to a non-paid bail of an amount of 5,000 NIS, and to be house imprisoned until July 1, and not to participate in events and activities in various political, national, social and economic titles for one month, and not to communicate with any of the relevant parties on this case for a period of 40 days.

 

(18 June) Some persons deemed loyal to Hamas, along with security agents (in civilian clothes) have attacked at least 10 journalists while covering a peaceful sit-in planned for by the Ministry of Detainees and Ex-Detainees, in cooperation with the Prisoners Committee for National and Islamic Forces. The sit-in took place at Al-Saraya Square, in Gaza Strip, at around 11:00AM, on Monday, corresponding 18 June 2018. It was titled (The peaceful movement to end division, lift the sanctions and recover the rights of the employees). They seized and destroyed some of the equipment of these journalists, deleted the materials they had filmed, and prevented them from covering. They also attacked the demonstrators in the sit-in and destroyed the stage which was built for the sit-in.

 

According to the investigations conducted by MADA field researcher, and although the Ministry of Interior in Gaza has allowed the Ministry of Detainees and Ex-Detainees to organize a sit-in at Al-Saraya Square in Gaza, but once the sit-in began, with the participation of hundreds of citizens, a group of young people, some of whom came out of the mosque near the sit-in, wearing the keffiyeh and white hats, have raised signs and shouted slogans non-agreed upon according to the organizers of the event. For example, they were shouting /the people wants the fall of the President from power/ (President Mahmoud Abbas). They were also shouting “Get lost Abbas”. Which is why the organizers of the event have requested to unite the slogans, however, the group of young people refused, which caused a verbal altercation between them, which soon aggravated to attack with sticks and hands against the demonstrators in the sit-in and the journalists who were covering the event. It was later found that security agents in civilian clothes were deployed among the demonstrators. The members of the “intruders” group broke into the sit-in, destroyed the stage and attacked the demonstrators. They pursued the journalists and all those who filmed the events, attacked some of them and deleted the photos and videos they had taken in their cameras, prompting the organizers of the sit-in to cancel it.

These persons have forced journalists, including, Shireen Khalifeh, Nahed Abu Herbid and Muthana Al-Najjar to delete the photos and videos they have filmed on their mobile phones.

The journalist, Shireen Hamed Khalifeh, who works at Nawa Media Network, has reported to MADA field researcher that she went with her colleague, the journalist, Nahed Abu Herbid, to cover this sit-in. When they arrived, they took some photos with their cell phones, after the attacks, and after destroying the sit-in stage by agents in civilian clothes, a person also in civilian clothes has approached her, and introduced himself as an agent from the General Investigation, but did not show any card to prove so. He asked the three persons standing behind her to go further back, and asked Abu Herbid to delete the photos and videos on her phone, when she told him that there are 4 personal photos only on her phone, another one replied “no problem, we have female agents who can search your phone”. He added “Only if you can film anything in the West Bank, you can then film in Gaza”. The journalist, Nahed Khaleel Abu Harbid, a reporter at “218 Media”, has reported that she was close to the sit-in stage, and after she documented the stage being destroyed, a huge, bearded man, in black clothes, has approached her and asked her to delete the photos. He also asked her colleague, Shireen, “to take out her phone from her burse and delete the photos”. He introduced himself as an officer from the General Investigation without showing any card to prove so”. As to “Al-Hadath” Newspaper reporter, Muthana Sulaiman Ibrahim Al-Najjar, he reported that while taking pictures with his phone to a group of bearded people putting on hats, while shouting and holding up signs in the sit-in demanding to lift the sanctions imposed on Gaza, not to mention that they were also shouting and cheering against the President Mahmoud Abbas, oe persons of the group grabbed Muthan’s phone from his hand and prevented him from filming. However, the leader of the Democratic Front, Talal Abu Zarifa, who was near Al-Najjar, immediately intervened, and was able, after about five minutes, to return the phone back to him. However, all the photos he took were deleted, and the events came to an end. One of the persons who prevented him from filming approached Al-Najjar and introduced himself as an officer from the Public Relations of Hamas Movement Office, and he apologized for what has happened to him and informed him that they did know that he was the journalist, Muthana Al-Najjar.

After the events ended, the journalists Khalifeh and Abu Harbid were subjected to a smear campaign through the social media. They were accused of lying and treason after Khalifeh posted on her Facebook page the attacks she and her colleague Abu Harbid were subjected to at the sit-in.

The reporter of "Watan" TV, the journalist Izz Al-Din Abu Eisha, has reported that he was prevented from covering the event and deleted the material he filmed after arriving at Al-Saraya Square around 11:30 to cover the sit-in. While he was preparing the camera to film the event and to interview some of the demonstrators in the sit-in, and while he was talking on his phone with the Administration of Watan News Agency where he worked, three men in civilian clothes attacked him and grabbed the phone and the camera out of his hands even though he has not filmed anything yet at that moment. They went in another direction, he followed them trying to know them or the authority they work under, but they asked him to remain silent. In the meantime, he saw Tawfiq Abu Naim, the Director General of the Internal Security Forces in Gaza, and he directly went to him and explained the attack he was subject to in details. After that, Mr. Tawfiq Abu Naim, called them and asked them to hand him over what they took from Abu Eisha. Indeed, they responded to Tawfiq and handed over the phone and camera. He then interviewed Abu Naim to explain the attacks against the journalists and the demonstrators to destroy the sit-in and left the location. 

The reporter of Al-Taqadomi Media Team, Diaa Maliha, has reported that upon arriving at Al-Saraya Square, at around 11:45, along with his colleagues, Mohammad Al-Shirafi, Ammar Kiskeen, and Mohammad Salem, to cover the sit-in, and before filming anything or interviewing anyone, three individuals have approached and introduced themselves as agents from the Internal Security in Gaza. They took the equipment, the camera and the cell phone, by force, under the pretext that a decision has been issued to prevent filming and documenting the event. This caused a verbal altercation among them, especially that they were in civilian clothes. It subsequently became a fight involving great number of security service agents in civilian clothes, who appeared after the withdrawal of the three persons mentioned above. They severely attacked Diaa, and his colleagues from the Team as they were trying to save him. They were all wearing the Press uniform with the name of the party they were working with shown. He managed to save himself, and found a large group of security men in civilian clothes attacking his colleague, Mohammad Salem. He approached them and tried to save him, they both hardly walked away. This is actually similar to the attack against the Director of Al-Taqadomi Mdia Team, Mr. Mohammad Al-Shirafi. He reported that the moment he arrived at Al-Saraya Square, with his other colleagues in the Team, and while he was trying to adjust the settings of the internet, a group of young men in civilian clothes approached him and introduced themselves as security men. They asked him and his colleagues to hand over their own phones and the camera he was carrying which belong to the Team, and after they refused to do so, they attacked them, and tried forcibly to withdraw their phones and camera. During that, the phone screen crashed after it fell on the ground as well as the camera’s tripod. In the meantime, a number of persons in civilian clothes gathered and participated in the attack against the journalist, during which he was seen by one of his relatives working with the security services, he approached him and asked them to move away from him, and saved him by force.

These attacks have also affected the photographer, Rashad Al-Amassi and Waseem Meqdad, who work for Khabar Agency. The agency’s camera was destroyed about half an hour upon their arrival, a group of young men dressed in civilian clothes, who were shouting and cheering against the President Mahmoud Abbas, approached them and requested that Al-Amassi and Meqdad remove the memory chip from the camera and leave the area. However, they refused to do, so the camera was withdrawn from them by force, which is why it crashed, not to mention they were severely attacked.

 

(22 June) the photographer of Anatolia Turkish Ahency, Ali Hassan Mousa Jadallah, (28 years old), was injured with a gunshot through the palm of his right hand while he was covering the peaceful return march taking place in the east of Khan Younes, on Friday, corresponding 22 June 2018.

According to the investigations conducted by MADA field researcher, the photojournalist at Anatolia Turkish Agency, Ali Hassan Mousa Jadallah, (22 June 2018), went to Malka border area, located to the east of Gaza, and at around 4:00, along with his colleague, Saber Noor Al-Deen, the photographer at the European Agency, approached the separating fence on the other side of which Israeli soldiers were deployed. He was wearing the Press shield and helmet, he stopped at a distance of 150 meters away from the demonstrators to take some photos. At around 5:45, he was injured with a bullet in the palm of his right hand, fired at him by one of the Israeli soldiers. The bullet exited his hand and injured another demonstrator in the leg. The field first aid was provided to the photojournalist, Jadallah, and he was taken to the medical point in the location. The doctor stitched his wound, and then he was taken by the ambulance to Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza, where he was informed that his condition was reassuring. He stayed in the hospital until 8:30 PM, and was then discharge. He continued to feel pain, so on the following morning, Saturday, corresponding 23 June 2018, he went to Al-Quds Hospital, in Gaza, for follow up purposes, and it was found that his wound was stitched incorrectly, and that it needed five stitches not one only, not to mention that it was supposed to be stitched with a thin threat rather than thick. He received the necessary treatment, went back home, provided he continues his treatment. Until the moment, he needs to undergo a cosmetic surgery for the deformity caused to his palm due to the injury”.  

 

(22 June) the journalist, Ahmad Mohammad Ahmad Al-Fayoumi, a reporter at 24 News Website and Al-Ghad website, has suffered severe suffocation while covering the events of the return march, taking place in Malka, to the east of Gaza, on Friday, corresponding 22 June 2018. He received the first aid in the field.

Al-Fayoumi has reported to MADA “while I was at Malka, near the border fence, at around 6:00 PM, on Friday, corresponding 22 June 2018, I tried to film the scene of young men who were attempting to cut the border fence, (it should be noted that I was in my Press uniform), the Israeli occupation soldiers have fired a large amount of tear gas bombs, the next thing I know, I fainted because of the gas, the medical staff intervened and I received the field treatment”.

 

(23 June) The occupation soldiers have arrested a photographer at WAFA news Agency, named Mashhour Hassan Mahmoud Wahwah, (34 years old), and a reporter at Palestine TV, Azmi Waleed Banat, (28 years old). They threatened a number of journalists with arrest and prevented them from covering a protest sit-in against settlement, organized by Bani Naim, in the east of Hebron.

According to the investigations conducted by MADA field researcher, Bani Naim Town families, at around 11:00AM, on Saturday, corresponding 23 June 2018, have organized a protest sit-in against the confiscation of the town lands for settlement purposes. Dozens of families went to the land above which the settlers have put a tent, inside of which, there were about seven settlers, in addition to the Israeli military jeep to guard them. Within a quarter of an hour, another military jeep arrived, an officer in the official Israeli uniform stepped out of the jeep, and ordered all the protesters to leave the area claiming that it is a “closed military area”. They refused to respond, and told the officer to get an official document which proves that it is a closed military area. In the meantime, a third military patrol arrived, from which a higher officer stepped out, and he seemed to be in charge, and ordered everyone (addressing them in Hebrew language), including the journalists, to leave the area immediately, claiming that it was a "closed military zone", where no one was allowed to enter without showing an official document that authorizes so. He showed them a photo on his phone claiming that it was the “military order”. Few minutes later, he arrested one of the protesters and threatened to arrest more if they do not comply with the order. The same officer began pursuing and threatening the journalists with arrest when they filmed the young man he arrested earlier. He addressed more than one journalist shouting, “If you will not leave, I will arrest you” and “if you film with the camera, I will arrest you”. These threats were also addressed to: AFP photographer, Hazem Jameel Bader, Reuter photographer, Yusri Mahmoud Al-Gamal, the European Agency photographer, Abdelhafeeth Al-Hashlamoun, Reuters photographer, working at the photography section, Mousa Issa Al-Qawasmy, Action Press Agency photographer, Wisam Abdelhafeeth Al-Hashlamoun, Anatolia photographer, Mamoun Ismail Wazwaz, Palestine TV staff, including Alaa Al-Haddad, and Azmi Banat, and WAFA News Agency photographer, Mashhour Wahwah. In the meantime, the soldiers began arresting a number of protesters, and the journalists continued filming carefully while walking away for fear of being arrested. The higher officer arrested the photographer of WAFA, Mashhour Hassan Mahmoud Wahwah (34 years old), and Palestine TV reporter, Azmi Waleed Banat (28 years old). They were taken to the military jeep, even though Azmi Banat was not carrying any cameras and he only carried the TV Microphone in his hand when he was arrested. It was found later (as reported by Mashhour Wahwah to MADA researcher), that the soldiers have taken them, along with other protesters, to the Israeli police center, located in Kiryat Arba settlement, to the east of Hebron. Only the photojournalist, Mashour Wahwah, was questioned, and charged with “disobeying the Israeli army orders”, but he informed them that he does not know Hebrew, and could not understood what the officer said. The police has released them (Wahwah and Banat), five hours after their arrest and detention at the police station. The police investigator has informed Wahwah that they will review his case and see whether they could close his file or open a file for him. Before he was released, he signed on papers in Hebrew and was told that they were his statement. His fingerprints were also taken. As for journalist, Azmi Waleed Banat, he said he did not know why he was arrested since he did not film anything, especially since the soldiers deliberately insulted him and asked him to sit on the ground. The soldier who threatened him with abusive words, was the same soldier who accompanied them to the police station and continued insulting him.

The officer deliberately insulted and arrested the journalists violently so he prevents them from returning back to the area for fear of covering protests for the next few days. He used this kind of arrest and threat, believing that this would prevent journalists from coming back again.

 

(25 June) The Preventive Security Service has summoned the journalists, Musab Abdelsamad Shawer Tamimi, (27 years old), a reporter at Quds News Network, and Amer Abdelhakeem Abu Arafa, a reporter at Shihab News Agency, and Orouba Media Network, both from Hebron, to review the Preventive Security Service headquarters in Ramallah. Musab Shawer Tamimi reported to MADA “on 25 June 2018, at 10:15AM, I received a phone call from the Preventive Security in Ramallah requiring my attendance to the headquarters. On the following day, corresponding 26 June 2018, at around 10:15AM, I went to the headquarters in Ramallah. After I introduced myself, the officer began asking me questions like: what do I do for living, where do I work as a journalist, how do I receive and verify the information. I was charged with incitement through the Facebook, for posting mockery posts about the health situation of the President. I denied the charge and asked to be confronted with an evidence. However, given the lack of evidence, the officer started bringing up some old writings I have posted once to protest against the blocking of some websites. He accused me of incitement against the Authority. He told me explicitly that I had the freedom to write, but without causing incitement against the Authority, or causing harm to the citizens or the community security. I signed a pledge not to incite as it is considered a breach according to the Cybercrimes Law, otherwise I will be held accountable. I left the office at 12:30 PM.”

Amer Abu Arafa has reported “I went to the Preventive Security Service headquarters in Ramallah, at around 10:30AM, on 26 June 2018. My interview there lasted for half an hour approximately. It was just a directive meeting, in which the officer has emphasized the need that we all have to take one stand before the deal of the century! And that I have to stay away from any protest or march taking place these days as they are considered foreign agenda. I was also asked about my media work and the funding mechanism in my work. I signed a pledge to adhere to the amended cybercrimes law, and left the location”.

(26 June) Palestine Post[2] TV reporter, Nisreen Abdelkareem Al-Shami (28 years old), was injured with a rubber bullet in the thigh while she was covering clashes which have erupted after the army and settlers have broken into the eastern area of Nablus. Al-Shami reported to MADA “at around 10:30 AM, on 26 June 2018, the Israeli occupation forces have stormed the eastern area of Nablus, particularly, Yousef’s Tomb, to secure the entrance of settlers for prayer purposes in the tomb since they believe it’s a sacred place for them. Due to this, clashes have erupted between the citizens (in this densely populated area) and the occupation forces. I directly went to cover these events from the beginning. At around 12:30 PM, while I was covering the clashes and events, I was shot by a rubber bullet fired by a soldier. It injured my left thigh. There were some young men standing in the place, took me to the ambulance which transported me to father distance. I received the field treatment for less than half of an hour, and then returned back to home”.

 

(29 June) The photographer and journalist at Palestine Hadath Network, and Al-Awda Media Network, Madeline Issam Abdel-Aqraa (20 years old) has suffered severe suffocation during her coverage of the peaceful return march taking place in Khuza'a, to the east of Khan Younis, in Gaza Strip.

According to the investigation conducted by MADA field researcher, The photographer and journalist at Palestine Hadath Network, and Al-Awda Media Network, Madeline Issam Abdel-Aqraa (20 years old), from Deir Al-Balah, around 2:00PM, on Friday, corresponding 29 June 2018, went to the east of Khuza'a. she was wearing the Press shield, and carrying a Nikon camera. Around 4:00PM, she approached the separating fence by a distance of 50 meters. She was live broadcasting the events through her phone directly to the Facebook page of Palestine Hadath. She was standing next to her colleague, Mohammad Shahine, who works in the same network. They were at a distance of 10 meters away from the demonstrators, and her colleague was filming with his phone. At around 4:15, three gas bombs were fired directly at her by a soldier after he stepped out a military jeep in the opposite side the separating fence. She suffered severe suffocation, and lost her consciousness for about 15 minutes. Then she was immediately transferred to the Red Crescent field hospital. About 300 meters away from the fence where she was standing. Until 1 July 2018 she continued to suffer from shortness of breath as a result of her injury.

 

(29 June) The freelance photojournalist, Ayed Zakaria Fadel Baker, (20 years old), was injured with two gas bombs shot at his hand and foot while he was covering the peaceful return march taking place in the east of Gaza.

According to the investigations conducted by MADA field researcher, the journalist, Ayed Zakaria Fadel Baker, (20 years old), who works as a freelance photojournalist, on Friday, corresponding 29 June 2018, went to Malka, located in the east of Gaza, to cover the events of the Return March. He was holding a sign that says (Press) on his chest. When he arrived, he saw hundreds of demonstrators raising flags and setting fire to rubber tires. Dozens of demonstrators have approached the fence, while Zakaria was live broadcasting the events directly to the Facebook page of Hadf News website, at a distance of 50 meters away from the separating fence. The soldiers fired a barrage of gas bombs, and Zakaria, consequently, suffered suffocation. However, he continued working, but he was injured with two gas bombs fired directly at him. One of them injured his right hand, while the other injured his left foot. He received field treatment by the medical staff in the location”.

 

(30 June) Some agents from the Preventive Security Service has attacked the freelance journalist, and field researcher of MADA, Lara Sameer Kanaan, while she was covering a march that was taking place in Nablus. They seized her phone and deleted all the photos and materials.

The journalist, Lara Kanaan, has reported to MADA “at 6:00 PM, on Saturday, corresponding 30 June 2018, I went to the Martyrs square, downtown Nablus, with my colleague from Ultra Palestine, to cover a protest against the sanctions imposed on Gaza. The protest was called for by factions from the Liberation Organization, as well as national institutions and events in the Governorate. I was wearing my Press shield, which also showed the logo of the journalists’ syndicate in which I am a member. After about an hour, the gathering was divided into two parts. I followed the march, while my colleague (from Ultra Palestine) filmed the gathering in the square. There were a number of other journalists in the area. While I was filming the events, one of the Preventive Security Service agents, whom I personally know, approached me and tried to take my phone by force, after he shouted at me / quit filming/but I refused to give him my phone and tried to resists him. I was surprised by someone else, and I did not personally know him. He hit me hard with his hand elbow on my left hand, then he managed to grab my phone, while at least two other persons (all of them in civilian clothes) were standing behind me. One of them pulled my hair back and tried to pull me which harmed my neck. The other one hit me on my left shoulder and walked away. A number of police officers were there. About two hours later, my phone was brought back to me, after they had deleted the material on it and on the  Chip (the phone memory). I went to Rafidya Governmental Hospital and imaged my neck and shoulder where I had various bruises”.

 

Journalist Madeline Al-Aqraa after she was wounded in the field in the town of Khuza'a, east of Khan Younis

 

 

 


[1] The journalist Susan Al-Owaiwi: a holder of Diploma in Journalism from Cairo University in 2011. She worked in Al-Sabeel Jordanian Newspaper as a journalist and writer, for a period of 5 years. She suspended her work with the newspaper when she earned the position of a member in the Municipal Council of Hebron Municipality in 2017. She is an activist in Palestine Prisoners Center for Studies, and she always gave special attention to the refugees and prisoners affairs. She is a holder of Bachelor Degree in Business Administration, and Masters in Human Development. She is a mother of three children the oldest is 17 years old and the youngest is 11 years old.

[2] “Palestine Post Agency” – a Palestinian news website operated through the social media, based at Turkey.