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MADA: 24 attacks against media freedoms during February 19 of which committed by the Occupation

 

Ramallah - (5th March 2019) February 2019 has witnessed a noticeable decline in the number of violations against media freedoms in Palestine compared to those witnessed in January which registered a record number of attacks.

 

February has witnessed a total of 24 attacks against media freedoms in Palestine. The occupation committed 19 while the Palestinian authorities committed five. The number of attacks registered during February constitutes half of the attacks witnessed in January against media freedoms which totaled to 57 attacks committed by the Israeli Occupation compared to 20 committed by Palestinian authorities.

 

Israeli Violations:

The occupation forces and authorities have committed a total of 19 attacks against media freedoms, 12 of which have taken place in the West Bank compared to 7 in Gaza Strip.

Most of the Israeli attacks fall under the serious attacks affecting  the lives of journalists and media liberties. Most notable of these attacks are the physical injuries which demonstrate the testimony of the victims and the circumstances in which soldiers deliberately target female/male journalists to prevent them from covering field events.

This is evident in the firing of tear gas bombs directly at the bodies of journalists and often on sensitive parts of their bodies, as happened with the freelance photographer, Almutasim Bellah Riyad Abu Aser, who was injured on the 1st of February by a gas bomb in his head while he was covering the events of the peaceful return march in Gaza, causing him bleeding and fracture, rupture of the brain membrane. He stayed in hospital for two weeks as he was suffering

a blood gathering in the head/which is why he has  to review the hospital periodically to make a CT Scan of his head to check on his condition.

The number of of physical injuries registered during February totaled to 9 injuries (including Abu Aser). Most of the Israeli attacks registered during this month have affected the following: the photographer, Mashhour Hassan Mahmoud Al-Wahwah (injured by a fragment in the left foot), Mutasem Sameer Saqf Al-Hait (injured by a rubber bullet in the abdomen), Nidal Abu Sharbi (injured by a rubber bullet in the right thigh), Mohammad Al-Zanoun (injured by a gas bomb in the left shoulder which caused him shoulder displacement), Wael mohammad Al-Shirafi (injured by an explosive fragment in the right leg), Abdelrahman Hani Abdelqader Al-Kahlout (injured by a gas bomb in the left shoulder which caused him third-degree burns and slight fracture), Mouneb Abu Hatab (injured by a gas bomb in the abdomen), Mohammad Sami Barbakh (injured by a gas bomb in his hand).

In addition to these attacks, the Israeli occupation authorities have continued the arrests, as they arrested Anatolia Agency photographer, the journalist Mustafa Al-Kharouf, since 22nd January, and transferred him to Givoun Deportation Prison, located in Al-Ramla,  as a prelude to his deportation from Jerusalem and the whole of the Palestinian territories, having lived in the city of Jerusalem since 1999 after he returned with his mother, father, and siblings from Algeria when he was a kid.

HAMOKED - the Israeli Center for the Defence of the Individual, which is following up with Al-Kharouf case since several years, indicated that the Israeli Police has arrested the journalist Al-Kharouf (on 22nd January), only one day after an appeal was presented to the Israeli Court against the decision of the Israeli Ministry of Interior decision of rejecting the family reunification application for “security reasons” and he was transferred to “Givoun” Deportation Prison.

While the Israeli authorities call in “security reasons” for not granting the journalist Al-Kharouf the family reunification and thus expelling him from Jerusalem and the Palestinian territories where he has lived for 20 years and has no residency or nationality for any other country, the occupation authorities have not taken any security or criminal measures against Mustafa. The information on which the (Israeli) Ministry of Interior relies upon its rejection of the family unification is classified as confidential. This information is often related to his work as a photojournalist, which is a job that requires being present in many events for media coverage, all within the requirements of his role as a photographer, nothing more” as HAMOKED stated in this regard.

 

Palestinian Violations:

The Palestinian violations have witnessed a marked decline during February, with a total of only 5 violations, compared to a total of 20 Palestinian violations registered in January.

Two of these violations have taken place in the West Bank while 3 in Gaza Strip.

The most prominent of these violations is the issuance of the Governmental Media Office of the Ministry of Information in Gaza Strip of an announcement targeting all female/male journalists in Gaza Strip, under which they are required to obtain a press card issued by the said office to allow them conduct any press meeting or obtain any information from any facility or public institution or ministry. This is in addition to the arrest of the journalist, Tawfiq Abu Jarrad in Gaza and subjecting him to abuse that amounts to torture, as well as the arrest of the journalists Nouraldin Mohammad Mahmoud Banat, and Akram Ali Allan Dereih by the Palestinian Intelligence Service after they were summoned.

 

Details of Violations:

(1st Feb.) The journalist Al-Mutasim Bellah Riad Abu Aser was injured by a gas bomb in the head fired at him by one of the Israeli occupation soldiers while he was covering the events of the peaceful return march taking place in Malka, east of Gaza.

According to the investigations of MADA field researcher, the freelance journalist, Al-Mutasim Bellah Riad Saleh Abu Aser, (24 years old), has arrived, at around 3:00PM, on Friday, 1st February 2019 to Al-Awda Camp, against the separating fence (the border fence with Israel) to Malka, east of Gaza, to cover the events of the peaceful return march, as part of the marches which launched on the 30th March 2018, organized each Friday. Immediately after his arrival, he began to take photos of the demonstrators, who were on the other side firing gas bombs, rubber and metal bullets at them, wounding a number of them. At around 4:30PM, as he was covering the peaceful march, about 40 meters away from the separating fence on the other side of which the Israeli soldiers were deployed, Abu Aser approached to a group of demonstrators throwing stones at an Israeli jeep, some of whom were trying to cut the fence. About five minutes later, an Israeli soldier fired bullets into the air to disperse the demonstrators. Other soldiers also fired about 10 gas bombs directly at the location of the incident where Abu Aser was, one of which injured him in the head. He was immediately taken by ambulance of the Palestinian Red Crescent. He was taken to the field medical point located about 700m away from the separation fence. He was diagnosed with serious injuries and was given first aid. The wound was immediately dressed and he was transferred to Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City. During his transfer to the hospital, the journalist Abu Aser lost consciousness completely, and did not wake up until after about three hours in the intensive care unit.

He underwent a surgery in the head as the doctors found that the bomb caused him bleeding and fracture as well as rupture in the brain membrane. He stayed in hospital for two weeks, under medical supervision and follow-up. He periodically goes to the hospital to make a CT Scan for his head to check on his condition and responsiveness to medication, especially that the doctors have found a hematoma in his head.

 

(1st Feb.) The photojournalist, Abdelrahman Hani Abdelqader Al-Kahlout, was injured by a gas bomb in the left shoulder fired at him by one of the Israeli Occupation soldiers while he was covering the events of the return march taking place in Malka, east of Gaza.

According to the investigations of MADA field researcher, abdelkareem Al-Kahlout, (23 years old), a freelance photographer, at around 3:00PM, on Friday, corresponding 1st Feb. 2019, has arrived to Malka, east of Gaza to cover the events of the weekly return march. He was wearing the press uniform (the helmet and the vest marked PRESS). As the demonstrators approached the fence on the other side of which the Israeli soldiers were deployed, Al-Kahlout approached, with his colleagues, to photograph the events, while he was about 400 meters away from the fence and began to photograph hundreds of demonstrators. The Israeli soldiers fired live ammunition and tear gas bombs at demonstrators indiscriminately, (which the occupation soldiers have been doing since the start of the marches which launched on 30th March last year), and at approximately 3:30, while he was doing his job, a gas bomb injured his left shoulder, and fell to the ground as his colleagues began calling on ambulances in the location. He was taken to the nearest field medical point away from the location where he was injured about 300 meters away from the fence. He was given the first aid, and then he was directly transferred to Al-Quds Hospital, at around 4:00PM. In the hospital, x-rays were done for him and he was diagnosed by the Orthopedist for the treatment of his shoulder which was injured with third-degree burns, rupture in the shoulder muscle, and hairline fracture in the back. He stayed in hospital until the following day (Saturday, 2nd Feb. 2019) when he was discharged provided to review with the outpatient clinic doctors.

Al-Kahlout was injured on 27th April 2018 by an explosive bullet in the foot while he was covering the return marches east of Gaza.

 

(4th Feb.) Psagot Settlement, located in Al-Bireh, West Bank, in every now and then, witnesses clashes among the occupation forces and groups of Palestinians throwing stones at the military tower located in the settlement. At around 10:00PM, on 4th Feb. 2019, the occupation forces were alerted near the military gate of Psagot Settlement after incendiary bottles were thrown at the military tower. Mutasem Samir Seqf Al-Hait, a 29-year-old media student at the Modern College, works for Quds News Network, accompanied with his colleague at the Modern College, Hadi Majid Sbarneh, a 20-year-old student, a volunteer at Quds News Network, went to film the clashes where a number of Palestinians were throwing stones at the Occupation soldiers. When they approached with their vehicle, the soldiers stopped them at gunpoint and forced them to turn off the engine. They searched the vehicle and checked their IDs and student cards indicating that they are media students and volunteers at Quds News Network. They detained them and seized the camera and telephones and their cards. They asked them about who they were working with and forced them to delete the materials they filmed and photographed through their accounts on Facebook. After about 45 minutes of detention, the soldiers returned the camera and cell phones and their cards and released them.

 

(10th Feb.) Some settlers have prevented a number of journalists from filming or being present in Al-Shuhada’ street, downtown Hebron.

According to the investigations of MADA field researcher, a group of journalists, including Mamoun Wazwaz, Hisham Abu Shaqra, Musab Shawer, and Hamza Al-Hattab, on Sunday morning, corresponding 10 Feb. 2019, went to Al-Shuhada’ street, to film and cover how did and how will become the reality of daily life for the inhabitants of that area and school students as they go to their workplaces and schools, on the morning following the decision of the Government of Israel to end the work of the Temporary International Presence in Hebron (TIPH). The photographer, Hisham Kamel Abu Shaqra, a 30-year-old photographer at Anatolia Agency, at around 7:30AM, has arrived to that area. As soon as he began installing the camera to photograph some scenes, he was attacked by an extremist settlement known by the residents and journalists with its continuous hostility, called Cohen. It pushed the Camera stand strongly and made it fall to the ground. It started pushing the journalist, Hisham, to prevent him from coverage. The photojournalist Musab Shawer was also pushed strongly by another settler and prevented from coverage. Dozens of settlers rushed and raised their hands against the cameras of journalists to prevent them from coverage. The Israeli Police intervened to separate the settlers from journalists, and asked the journalists to immediately leave the location.

It is worth mentioning that the Israeli occupation forces have closed Al-Shuhada’ Street in the city of Hebron to the residents of the city and the Palestinians since 25 years and it is under the control of the settlers, while the Palestinian population in the area suffer from continuous harassment and attacks by settlers. The citizens’ concerns were raised there and throughout Hebron after Israel ended the work of TIPH, which was working to document violations in closed areas in Hebron, prompting a youth group against settlements to form a committee to protect students and ensure their access to their schools.

 

(8th Feb.) The journalist Wael Mohammad Al-Sharafi (wounded by an explosive fragment) was shot in the right leg by an Israeli soldier while covering the events of the peaceful return march in Abu Safiya area east of Jabaliya refugee camp in northern Gaza Strip.

According to the investigations of MADA field researcher, Wael Mohammad Rizk Al-Sharafi, 28 years old, married and works as a freelance photographer, has arrived, at approximately 2:30PM, on Friday, 8th February, to Al-Awda Camp, against the separating fence (the border fence with Israel) east of Jabalya refugee camp, to cover the events of the peaceful return march organized every Friday. A crowd of Palestinian civilians were in the area. As soon as he arrived, Al-Sharafi started filming the demonstration and the soldiers stationed on the other side of the fence fired gas bombs and rubber-coated metal bullets at the demonstrators. At around 4:00PM, while he was about 30 meters away from the fence, Al-Sharafi moved forward to film the demonstrators who tried to cut and destroy the separating fence on the other side of which the Israeli occupation soldiers were deployed, an Israeli soldier fired an explosive bullet at Al-Sharafi, which resulted in injuring him by a fragment in the right leg causing an entry and exit (did not injury the bones). He was immediately transferred by an ambulance to the Palestinian Red Crescent to the field medical point, about 700 meters away from the separation fence. He was given the first aid and was taken to the Indonesian hospital in the northern Gaza Strip (Emergency Section) where he underwent examinations and the doctors found that is injury does not require any surgical intervention. He was given the pain killers and medications and was discharged after about an hour.

 

(10th Feb.) On 10th February 2019, the Government Information Office of the Ministry of Information in Gaza issued an announcement to all journalists in Gaza Strip, obligating them to issue a special press card from the Government Information Office to allow them to conduct any press meeting or obtain any information from any facility or public institution or ministry. This announcement will be effective as of 1 April 2019, which constitutes a serious violation of media freedoms and even of public rights and freedoms. This will reduce the margin of transparency and control over the functioning of the public authorities and their facilities. It also makes the public authority avoid its role towards the press, and it imposes further restrictions on the implementation of knowledge and information to the public. As it is a form of political partnership where the decision involves a clear violation of Palestinian law, especially articles (19, 26 and 27) of the Palestinian Basic Law guaranteeing every Palestinian the right to freedom of expression and opinion and the transfer of information and ideas, in addition to the freedom of Syndicate work and its independence without any interference or restriction from the public authorities. It also violates the Palestinian Publications Law and goes beyond its provisions which obligates the official authorities to facilitate the media work and the free access to information and searching the same in accordance with Article 6 of the same law. It also violates the International Legislation of Human Rights, in particular article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as well as article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

 

(15th Feb.) The journalist, Mohammad Al-Za’noun, was injured by a gas bomb in the left shoulder while he was covering the events of the peaceful march in Malka, east of Gaza.

According to investigations conducted by MADA field researcher, the journalist Mohammad Imad Mohammad Al-Za'noun, 33 years old, a freelance journalist, has arrived to Malka, East Gaza to cover the events of the peaceful return march at about 3:30PM on Friday, corresponding 15th Feb. 2019, and he was wearing a press uniform (vest and helmet), and he was carrying two cameras. Immediately after his arrival he began to filming the demonstrators who were present at the site, which is located 300 meters away from the separating (border) fence, behind of which the Israeli army jeeps were stationed, and at about 5:00PM, the IDF soldiers fired tear gas bombs and bullets heavily towards the demonstrators. At the time, the journalist Al-Za’noun was taking photographs, he was injured by a gas bomb in the left shoulder joint, which resulted in shoulder displacement. He also suffered from severe pain. The medical staff treated him directly by holding his hand steady and placing his shoulder joint back to its location before his body chilled. He was taken by an ambulance to the field medical point located 500-700 meters away from the separation fence, where he received the necessary first aid. Then the journalist was transferred to Al-Shifa Hospital, west of Gaza Strip. He stayed in hospital for about an hour and half, then he was discharged at around 6:30PM, after his injury was imaged and he received the necessary medication. He is still under treatment, especially nerve treatment because of his inability to move his hand to a certain level.

It is worth noting that Al-Za'noun, who was wounded on Friday (3th July 2018) by an explosive fragment in his hand and feet during his coverage of the women organized at the separation fence in the border area east of Gaza, and he was wounded on Friday 5th Oct. 2018 by a rubber bullet in the right foot while he was covering the peaceful return marches in Malka, east of Gaza. On Friday, 28th Dec. 2018, he injured hit by a direct gas bomb in the back while he was covering the events of the return marches in eastern Gaza. 

 

(18th Feb.) The reporter of Barq Gaza News Network, Mohammad Bureikh, was injured by a gas bomb fired at his left hand by an Israeli soldier while covering the events of the night disruption events, east of Khan Younis, southern Gaza Strip.

According to the investigations of MADA field researcher, Mohammad Sami Jawdat Barbakh, 21 years old, from Khan Younis, a field reporter of Barq Gaza News Network, arrived at approximately 6:30PM, on 18th Feb. 2019 to Al-Awda Camp, east of Khuza'a to cover the so-called “night disruption” represented by demonstrations and clashes at the separation fence, where hundreds of citizens participated in these events at the call of the return marches commission. At approximately 8:00PM, while Barbakh was accompanied by a group of journalists standing dozens of meters behind the young men approaching the barbed wire, and while the soldiers were firing gas bombs, Barbakh was injured by a gas bomb directly in his left hand. He was immediately taken to the field hospital located in the area, where he received the necessary treatment and then left to home.

It is worth noting that Barbakh was injured with a fracture due to a gas bomb while covering the events of the fourth Friday of return marches on 27th April 2018.

 

(19th Feb.) An Israeli soldier fired a rubber-coated metal bullet at a reporter for Quds News Network, the media student Mutasem Samir Saqf Al-Hait while he was filming from inside his car the events in Nablus and broadcasting the same directly via his Facebook page.

According to investigations conducted by MADA field researcher, at approximately 10:30PM, on Tuesday, 19 February 2019, an Israeli occupation force stormed the eastern area of Nablus, accompanied by buses of settlers to guard them and enable them to perform religious rites Joseph’s Tomb, located in the center of a crowded neighbourhood in the eastern part of Nablus. During the course of the demonstration, dozens of female and male Palestinians have gathered and threw stones and empty bottles at the Israeli military vehicles while the Israeli soldiers fired rubber-coated metal bullets at them. In the meantime, a number of journalists arrived to cover these events, including Mutasem Samir Hamdi Saqf Al-Hait, a 29-year-old media student who works for Quds News Network, where he began a live broadcast of these events through his Facebook page, while he was in his own car, wearing the Press uniform of journalists not to mention that his car was marked Press. During this time, at about 11:30 hours after storming the area, Saqf Al-Hait was surprised by one of the soldiers approaching him and pointing his gun towards the car, and began shouting at him. The soldier broke the glass of Mutasem’s car from the right side and fired a rubber bullet at him in the abdomen. Immediately, Saqf Al-Hait left the place with his friends to Rafidia Hospital, where he received the necessary treatment and was discharged immediately after his condition became stable.

 

(20th Feb.) An Israeli occupation force raided and searched the house of the journalist Alaa Jabr Ali Al-Titi, detained him and two of his brothers, one of whom is working for “Alam” Radio, and the other is a media student.

According to the investigations of MADA field researcher, the journalist, Alaa Jabr Ali Al-Titi, born on 16th July 1982, married with four children, lives in Arroub Camp, northern Hebron, at approximately 1:30 at dawn, on Wednesday, 2nd Feb. 2019, and his wife, head strange sounds and movement on the stairs leading to their apartment on the fourth floor. So he went to the door to see what was happening outside. He heard the occupation soldiers speaking Hebrew which he was able to understand. The moment he opened the door of the apartment until he saw five soldiers, some of them were putting black masks. They approached him and pointed their guns at his face. They forced him to forcibly sit down on the floor. Three of them rushed into the apartment, and two remained close to him pointing the gun at his face, and shouting at asking him not to move or talk. The soldiers were screaming inside the apartment "where is Hisham," Alaa's brother, who lives in an area far from the camp with his father. The soldiers raided Alaa's bedroom where his wife was, while Alaa asked the soldier to let him into the apartment when he heard the sound of his daughter Celine (10 years old) crying after the soldiers raided the apartment. But the soldier refused and continued shouting at Alaa asking him to be quite. The soldiers started knocking the wooden doors and checking the walls, and 115 minutes later, they took him to the second floor where his brother Thaer lived. The soldiers detained him in the living room with his three children (the eldest 9 years old) and his two brothers, Sameh, 28 years old, a freelance journalist and programs presenter at “Alam” radio, in addition to his other brother Shamekh, the media student at Palestine Technical University, as they were living alone in the second floor. In the meantime, a number of soldiers were surrounding them and pointing their guns at them to prevent them from moving. He knew from his brothers that the soldiers seized three of their phones. The soldiers started to search Thaer’s apartment and filming it. After about half an hour, the soldiers asked Alaa to give them his ID and they photographed it. They made him stand against the wall and took several photographs of him holding his ID. They continued detaining them until 2:30AM, until one of the soldiers heard: “We arrested Hisham”. They began retreating and closed the main door of the house, but Alaa and his brothers followed the soldiers outside the house to take back their cell phones even though the soldiers were shouting at them. When they stopped at the outdoor of the house, the soldiers fired four sound bombs and tear gas bombs at them, forcing them to return inside the house after being suffocated. They found one of the cell phones seized by the soldiers on the stairs of the building.

It should be noted that the occupation army has arrested Alaa on 2nd Jan. 2017 until 30th Nov. 2017. he was released under bail of 10,000 NIS until the court’s hearing. Following about 10 hearings in Ofer Military Court, west of Ramallah, in connection with his press work, he was then fined with 2000 NIS and a 30-month suspended imprisonment sentence for five years if he returned to the press. The decision included a trial for a certain period of time as follows:

  1. 8-months imprisonment should he covers any marches
  2. 12-months imprisonment should any media activity is seen in his Facebook page.
  3. 12-months imprisonment should he return to working for Al-Aqsa TV
  4. 6-months imprisonment should he covers any partisan activities (or activities for Al-Aqsa TV, which is deemed to be a political party)

 

(23-2) Three Israeli occupation soldiers beat photographer Mashhour Hassan Mahmoud al-Hawah while covering events in the city of Hebron.

 Al-Wahwah, 36 years old, works as a photographer for the Palestinian official agency Wafa in the old town of Hebron

According to investigations by Mada researcher, Mashhour Hassan Mahmoud al-Hawah, 36, a photographer for the Palestinian news agency WAFA, arrived at the old town of Hebron at 4:30 pm on Saturday to photograph a weekly march organized by the settlers Under the protection of the occupation soldiers every Saturday in the streets of the old town of Hebron. After his arrival, he took some pictures, but soon one of the soldiers approached him and asked him in Hebrew what he was doing there and why he is taking pictures, and he asked him to leave immediately. The journalist showed his private press card and told him that he was doing his job. Three other soldiers approached the journalist and began to kick him with their rifles. The beatings focused on his chest, and it was accompanied by insults and lasted about 15 minutes. The officer of the unit then approached the journalist Mashhour and told him to leave in 10 minutes or else he would be arrested, and so the journalist did.  The attack caused him bruises in the chest, where he felt pain for two days, although he did not go to the doctor after the attack.

 

(22nd Feb.) Midan Media photographer, Muneeb Sameer Ahmad Abu Hatab, was injured by a gas bomb fired directly at his abdomen by one of the occupation soldiers while he was covering the events of the return marches, east of Khan Younis, Gaza Strip.

According to the investigations conducted by MADA field researcher, Muneeb Sameer Ahmad Abu Hatab, 23 years old, lives in Khan Younis, works as a photographer for Midan Media, has arrived at around 3:00PM on Friday, 22nd Feb. 2019, to Al-Awda Campt, to the east of Khuza'a to cover the events of the return marches. There were thousands of demonstrators in the return marches organized every Friday since 30 March 2018. At about 5:00PM, while Abu Hatab was located 200 meters away from the border fence, on the other side of which 4 military jeeps were located, as he was filming the demonstrators, one of the soldiers stepped out the jeeps and fired at the (journalists) two gas bombs one of which injured him in the abdomen directly. He fell to the ground, and parts of his camera were smashed, the ambulance staff took him to the field hospital about 700 meters away from the separation fence. There, it turned out that the bomb injured the liver area and caused a burn in the area of the injury. He was transferred to the European Hospital because he needed radiography and special examinations. At the European hospital, he was given treatment and placed under medical observation for 24 hours to avoid complications. On the following day (23rd Feb. 2019), Abu Hatab was discharged from the hospital with a scheduled appointment few days later to review his condition.

It is noteworthy that Abu Hatab was injured on 27th April 2018 with a gas bomb in the neck and is still suffering its complications so far.

 

According to the investigations of MADA researcher, and based on the statement of the journalist Tawfiq Abdelaziz Mohammad Abu Jarrad, (37 years old), from Beit Lahia, a freelance journalist, a security patrol came to Abu Jarrad’s house located in Beit Lahia, at around 11:30PM, on 23rd Feb. 2019, and handed his wife a summons in his name to immediately go to the headquarters of the Internal Security Service in Beit Lahia. At 6:00AM, on 24th Feb. 2019, the journalist Abu Jarrad arrived to the headquarters of the Internal Security Service where he was searched and taken to a small cell. Following Asr Prayers (at around 3:00PM), he was called to the investigation room where he was questioned for an hour about his posts on the social media websites and his political positions which the investigator considered incitement against Hamas, threatened and asked him “to stop incitement and supporting traitors” as he described the situation. He was taken back to the cell with another two detainees who were brought in the morning, and they were asked to stand up with their faces against the wall by one of the officers. They kept standing their (including the journalist abu Jarrad) for more than an hour and a half until Maghrib Prayers. On the following day, (25th Feb. 2019), one of the security officers asked them to stand up and not sit down unless under his order otherwise they will be beaten. The kept standing there until Asr Prayers, that is for more than two and a half hours. In the evening (about 6:00PM), the journalist Abu Jarrad was released and again he was threatened and ordered to stop incitement “otherwise he would be arrested again”. After he was released, Abu Jarrad left the Internal Security headquarters, and went directly to the Indonesian hospital because of the severe pain in his back. The medical report showed that he suffered as he was feeling pain in his back. It was found through the tests and according to the medical report that he suffers from severe muscle contractions in the lower back as he was forced to stand for a long time without movement.

 

(22nd Feb.) On Friday, 22 February 2019, the Israeli occupation forces prevented a number of journalists from filming and covering a demonstration taking place in Bab Al-Zawiya area in the center of Hebron following a peaceful march organized by the residents of the city on the occasion of the 1994 anniversary of the Cave of the Patriarchs (Ibrahimi Mosque) massacre. The soldiers fired a sound bomb at the journalists which resulted in the injury of WAFA News agency photographer, Mashhour Hassan Mahmoud Al-Wahwah, (34 years old), by a fragment in his left leg. Not to mention assaulting other journalists which forced them to leave the area.

 

According to the investigations of MADA researcher, a peaceful march launched in front of Sheikh Ali Al-Bakka Mosque, in Hebron, after the Friday Prayers, on 22nd Feb. 2019, where dozens of civilians and foreign peace activists took part, on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the Cave of the Patriarchs (Ibrahimi Mosque) massacre carried out by the Israeli settler Baruch Goldstein against the worshipers at the Mosque in February 1994, also to demand opening Al-Shuhada’ street which is closed ever since.  The demonstrators arrived holding high Palestinian flags and chanting national slogans in the square of the Old City, near the school of Osama Bin Al-Munqeth where there is a gate leading to the closed Al-Shuhada’ Street, and then moved to the checkpoint (Shoutir), or what the residents call the barrier of (Al-Shuhada’ Street entrance 56), in Bab Al-Zawiya where they arrived at around 2:00PM, and chanted in front of the barrier behind of which dozens of soldiers and Israeli Guard Police officers were gathered. After about 15 minutes (approximately 2:15PM), a number of demonstrators threw stones at the checkpoint. A number of Border Police officers rushed from inside the checkpoint and threw sound bombs and gas bombs at the demonstrators in the march who were throwing stones, and chased then in Wadi Al-Tuffah Old Street. Meanwhile, the border police officers approached the journalists who were in the area and surrounded them and began yelling at them and pushing them with their hands and rifles. Two of the soldiers pushed the European Agency photographer Abdelhafeeth Dhiab Abdel Muti Hashlamoun, 55 years old, violently while he was standing on the stairs of a shop close to the checkpoint, trying to force him to move away. Another policeman attacked the photographer and reporter of Al-Hadath Newspaper, the journalist Musab Abd Al-Samad Shawer Al-Taimi, 28 years old, and put the gun on his chest and threatened to shoot him if he did not leave. The journalists were forced to move away from the location of the soldiers, but one of the border police offices threw a sound bomb among the journalists.  This resulted in the injury of WAFA News Agency, Mashhour Hassan Mahmoud Al-Wahwah, (34 years old), by a fragment in his left leg, with minor wounds that did not require taking him to the hospital. Another number of journalists suffered suffocation due to the gas bombs fired heavily by the occupation soldiers, forcing most of them to leave the area as a result of the soldiers attacks.          

 

(22nd Feb.) The journalist, Nidal Abu Sharbi, was injured by a rubber bullet in the right thigh while he was covering the events of the peaceful return march in Malka, east of Gaza City.

According to the investigations of MADA field researcher, the journalist Nidal Fawzi Sulaiman Abu Sharbi (31 years old), from Al-Shuja'ieh neighbourhood in Gaza, a photographer at Nedaa PAL, has arrived, at around 2:00PM, on Friday, 22nd Feb. 2019, to Malka, east of Gaza, to cover the events of the peaceful return march organized weekly since 30th March 2018, and he was wearing the PRESS vest. Immediately upon his arrival, he began to take pictures of the demonstrators who were in the area, and he was 50 meters away from the border fence, on the other side of which the Israeli army forces and jeeps were stationed and firing bullets and gas bombs at the demonstrators. At approximately 5:00PM, on the same day, the Israeli soldiers opened fire on the demonstrators who were setting fire to rubber tires. Several of them (the demonstrators) passed through the fence so he followed them for some photographers. At that time, the Israeli army fired tear gas bombs and rubber bullets intensively from the Israeli jeeps, which were 20-30 meters away from the fence or from the demonstrators? Whcih resulted in wounding Abu Sharbi by a rubber bullet in the right thigh. He was immediately taken by paramedics from inside the separation fence. He was taken by the ambulance to the field medical point located 500-700 meters away from the separation fence, where he was given the necessary first aid and the injury was dressed by the medical staff who described it as minor. He stayed in the medical point for about a third of an hour then left.

It is noteworthy that Nidal Abu Sharbi was injured on Friday 25th Jan. 2018 by two rubber bullets, one of which injured the head and the other hit his camera while he was covering the peaceful return march in Malka, east of Gaza.

 

(23rd Feb.) In parallel with the media campaigns and a number of field events, supporting President Mahmoud Abbas and demanding his removal, in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, the Internal Security Agency, northern Gaza Strip,  arrested the journalist Tawfiq Abu Jarrad for two days on the background of his posts and political positions and subjected him to ill-treatment amounting to torture during his detention.

 

(24th Feb.) The Palestinian Intelligence Service in Bethlehem has summoned the journalists Nouraldin Mohammad Mahmoud Banat and Akram Ali Alan Deireh, both of whom work for Al-Haqiqa International TV, and detained them for 12 hours before being released after interrogation.

According to the investigations of MADA researcher, at around 10:30AM, on Thursday, 21st Feb. 2019, Al-Haqiqa International TV reporter, in the WEst Bank, the journalist Nouraldin Mohammad Mahmoud Banat, (26 years old), from Arroub Refugees Camp, northern Hebron, received a phone call from someone who introduced himself as an officer form the Palestinian General Intelligence Service. He asked him to come to the headquarters in Bethlehem immediately, but the journalist Banat refused to talk to him and informed the caller that he will not go without the authorization of the Public Prosecution. He even told him that they can come to his house and arrest him and hung up the phone. He then told the director of the Al-Haqiqa TV in the West Bank, Wa'il Taqaqta (37 years old), what has happened by phone. Half an hour later, the journalist Banat was informed through a phone call from the director of Al-Haqiqa TV that he had contacted the intelligence service and some persons he did not mention and he was asked to go on Sunday, 24th Feb. 2019 to the intelligence headquarters in the city of Bethlehem accompanied with the TV photographer, Akram Ali Allan Deireh (40 years old) resident of Beit Fajjar, southern of Bethlehem), who received a phone call from the General Intelligence Service on Wednesday, February 20, 2019, and he was told to come to the headquarters on Sunday 24th Feb. 2019. Both journalists Akram Deireh and Nouraldin Banat, went to the headquarters in Bethlehem, and upon their arrival at around 11:00AM, one of the guards accompanied them inside, and put each one of them in a room. Their belongings were taken from them, including their cell phones, money, belts, and shoelace, and they were asked to sing the receipt. They both noticed the word “arrested” on the receipt, and five minutes later, they were taken in a Hyundai with a number of officers to the Military Medical Services headquarters in Bethlehem, where a form was completed whether they had any chronic diseases, which is a procedure taken for detainees. When the journalist Nouraldin Banat tried to talk to his coworker Akram, one of the officers yelled at him, violently held his head and hand and pushed him hard and said “no talking here”. After that, both journalists were then returned to the headquarters. The time was around 11:20AM, and they were taken to the ground floor where the cells were located. Each one of them was placed in a cell alone, and their descriptions were similar (2 meters length x 1.5 meters width, stinky smell, dim lights, no windows for ventilation except for 15 cm x 15 cm in the door, no bathroom, dirty floor). As soon as they were taken to the cells, the guards pulled out the bedding and cover from both of them, and minutes later, the food was brought to them. However, the journalist Akram Deireh refused to take the food and told the jailer that he was on hunger strike. The jailer brought a paper and asked him to sign it, while Banat accepted the food. At approximately 11:40AM, one of the guards came to the cell of the journalist Nouraldin Banat, carrying his cellphone (M-MAX-3), and asked him to open it by fingerprint, and he did open it. Few minutes after he left, the same guard came back carrying the cellphone and asked him to open it again as their was a lock application for all icons. Nouraldin refused to open it again, and said: this is my privacy, I will not open it without a judicial decision, but the guard insisted and they started shouting at each other. Another two officers came and one of them introduced himself with the family name (Abu Qais) and addressed him: (if you will not open it willingly, you will be forced to do it), and the three of them left. In the meantime, a jailer came to the cell of the journalist Akram Deireh, and said to him: “Do you want to contact any of your family?” and the later replied that he wanted to contact the director of the TV, Wael Tataqata, and he would know how to deal with it. The jailer closed the cell door violently and left. After that, both of them stayed in their cells until 5:30PM, and they were taken to the investigation room in the second floor at that time. They were questioned about the names of their family members, the nature of their work in the TV, how they receive their salaries, the party financing the TV, their political belonging, and about a report they both prepared about Mitar Crossing western Al-Thahriya, on the release of the prisoner (Iyad Abu Shaqra), who spent 17 years in Israeli prisons, and that this report was prepared for Palestine Today TV.

After both of them objected being questioned in this manner, they informed the investigator that such reports are prepared as part of their job and that they have no relation with Palestine Today TV. They also stated that what actually happened is that Palestine Today asked them to do an interview for the TV, and they consider this as kind of service to their coworkers. The investigators accused both of them of organizing a reception for the prisoner Abu Shaqra in his family house located in Wadi Mu’alla Village, in Bethlehem, and that they have to inform the Service of the persons who were filmed in the location and appeared in the report wearing masks. The journalists denied the accusations of the investigator and informed them that their work does not require information about the persons who were at the reception. The investigators asked them both to sign on the statement that was written, after they read and adjusted it. The investigation session with both of them lasted until 7:30PM, and then they were returned to their cells. They remained in detention under the same circumstances until 11:00PM, when they were taken out from the cells, and released them, provided they must come back on Wednesday, 27th Feb. 2019, at around 10:00AM to the headquarters, to close the file as claimed by the officers and to take their cellphones which remained in detention by the Security Service of the headquarters for examination. On Wednesday, 27th Feb. 2019, at 10:00AM, the journalists Akram Deireh, and Nouraldin Banat, arrived to the headquarters of the General Intelligence Service in Bethlehem, where they waited in an external room after they gave their IDs to the guard. After about two hours, a security officer arrived to the room they were waiting in, and informed them that they must return on Saturday, 2nd March 2019, at 11:00AM, in order to receive their cellphones that were “still in the security screening section” and that the file had been closed. Both of them left the intelligence headquarters at 12:30 PM.

It is noteworthy that the General Intelligence Service has summoned the journalist Akram Deireh during October 2018, four consecutive times, under written summons. In two times, he was taken to the waiting room for several hours without questioning him and he was asked to come back. He was questioned about the work of the TV, his role in the TV office, the financing methods of the TV, his political belonging and his previous arrest by the Israeli occupation. 

 

 

Photo shows the occupation forces assaulting on journalists by a gas bomb in Bab Al-Zawiya in Hebron (By Hazem Bader)