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MADA: 19 violations against media freedoms in Palestine during April

Ramallah – (May 2019) – April has witnessed a noticeable decline in the number of attacks against media freedoms in Palestine compared to March.

The Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms “MADA” has monitored a total of 19 attacks against media freedoms in the West Bank and Gaza Strip during April 2019.

The Israeli Occupation has committed 11 of these attacks compared to 8 attacks committed by various Palestinian authorities. It should be noted that March has witnessed a significant increase in the number of attacks totaling to 117, 80 of which were committed by Palestinians,  while 37 by the Israeli occupation.

The main reason for the decline in the number of attacks seems to refer to the limited events in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, unlike the situation in the previous month.


Israeli Violations:

During April, the Israeli army and occupation authorities committed a total of 11 attacks against media freedoms in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. This is a marked decrease compared to the previous month. However, as usual, most of the Israeli attacks (9 out of 11) fall under the serious attacks (physical attacks). These attacks have affected the following journalists: Mohammad Issa Abu Sa’adah (gas bomb in the left leg), Saif Iyad Abdelghafour (gas bomb in his hand and in another separate incident he lost consciousness due to gas), Musab Abdelsamad Shawer Al-Tamimi (assaulted and beaten), Ahmad Ibrahim Washah (metal bullet in the head-behind his left ear), Mohammad Baker Allouh (gas bomb in his left knee), Yousef Mohammad Masoud (gunshot fragment in his left leg), Abdelraheem Mohammad Al-Khateeb (gas bomb in his left thigh from the back), Muath Fathi Al-Homs (gas bomb in his left leg).


Palestinian Violations:

The Palestinian attacks have witnessed a marked decrease during April compared to the record number of 80 attacks registered during March. A total of 8 attacks against media freedoms were registered, three of which occurred in Gaza Strip and four in the West Bank. The most prominent of these was the arrest of the journalist Hamza Hammad, in Gaza Strip, and raiding the house of Ramez Ghaben in Gaza several times to arrest him and the arrest of journalist Khalil Thwiab by the Preventive Security Service in the West Bank.


Details of Violations:

(5th April) The photographer, Mohammad Abu Sa’adah and the photographer Saif Iyad Abdelghafour were injured by gas bombs while they were covering the events of the return march east of Khan Younes, on Friday, corresponding 5th April 2019.

According to the investigations of MADA field researcher, Mohammad Issa Abu Sa’adah (26 years old), from Bani Suhaila, east of Khan Younes, a photographer of “Nour News Network”, has arrived at around 3:30PM, on Friday, 5th May 2019, to Al-Awda Camp, in Khuza’a, along with his colleague, Hamza Al-Shami, to cover the weekly peaceful demonstration. Abu Sa’adah was carrying the camera, and at around 6:00PM, while he was at a distance of 250 meters away from the fence, filming the events, he started taking photos of the demonstrators. Then he approached the fence at a distance of 100-150 meters away from the fence to take photos of the demonstrators who were sitting rubber tires on fire while the Israeli soldiers were firing gas bombs. At around 6:30PM, while he was taking photos of the demonstrators and the suffocation cases of them, he was injured in his left leg by a gas bomb fired directly at him by one of the occupation soldiers. He was taken by the paramedics to the field hospital at a distance of 700 meters away from the separating fence where he was given an injection in the thigh and his injury was dressed. At around 7:00PM, he left the field hospital and went home. That night he was not able to sleep due to the severe pain. On the following morning (6th April 2019), he went to the European Hospital in Khan Younes, where a CT scan was done to his foot and he was given some pain killers for three days.

Saif Iyad Abdelghafour, (19 years old), from Al-Balad, Khan Younes, a photographer and reporter of “Ein News Network” has arrived to east Khuza’a, at around 3:30PM, on Friday, 5th April 2019, to cover the return march. He was wearing the PRESS vest and carrying a camera. Upon his arrival, he started filming the events, and at around 5:30PM, he approached about 200-250 meters away from the separation fence to film the demonstrators who were deployed as groups near the fence. In the meantime, the soldiers were firing gas bombs at the demonstrators and some of them suffered suffocation. He was filming a paramedic, five meters away, who was injured by a gas bomb and fell to the ground. The soldiers continued to fire the bombs, one of which injured Abdelghafour in the right hand (in the wrist). He pulled out a “crepe bandage” from his pocket and placed it at the injury. Abdelghafour continued his work from the same location. When he left the area at around 7:00PM, he felt severe pain in his hand. He went to Nasser Medical Complex, west of Khan Yunes, where he arrived at 8:00 PM, and made some examination and images to his hand. There was a slight fracture and bruises in the nerves, which made him lose sensation in the thumb and pinky fingers. He was given some pain killers and informed to come again for check on Tuesday, 16th April 2019.


(11th April) An Israeli occupation army force has raided and searched the house of the journalist, Raed Shareef Laila, without any justifications.

According to the investigations of MADA researcher, an Israeli occupation army force, consisting of six soldiers, has raided, at around 11:00PM, on Wednesday, 11th April 2019, the house of the journalist Raed Al-Shareef (29 years old), a reporter of “Al-Ghad” TV, and program presenter of “Orouba” Radio. They calculated the number of rooms of the house located in Hebron, consisting of three floors (as he lives with his parents). They asked about the persons staying in the house, without giving any reasons or explanations of raiding and searching the house. They left after about an hour. It was found later that the soldiers were asking to find the house and in that night they did not search another hose.


(12th April) At around 2:00PM, on Friday, 12th April 2019, dozens of young men gathered in Bab Al-Zawiya, central Hebron, and started throwing stones and empty bottles at the military checkpoint at the entrance to the closed Al-Shuhada Street, referred to as “Shoter” checkpoint or (56). As a result, a number of Israeli soldiers came out of the checkpoint and fired sound and gas bombs at the demonstrators who were throwing stones. They chased them in the area of Wadi Al-Tuffah Street, while the young men continued throwing stones, while the soldiers continued firing rubber-coated gunshots. At around 4:00PM, a group of journalists near Hasouna Gas Station, close to the above mentioned checkpoint were filming the events, including the journalist Musab Abdelsamad “Mohammad Hamed” Shawer Al-Tamimi, (28 years old), Al-Hadath Newspaper reporter. In the meantime, Musab went to the toilet next to the station. One of the soldiers followed him and opened the door, grabbed his shirt from the back and took him out of the toilet. He pushed him towards a wall of tinplate and grabbed the gas mask that Musab and threw it on the ground. He shouted at him, in Arabic, “what are you doing here?” and Musab replied “I am here in my capacity as a journalist”. The soldier tried to seize the camera Musab was carrying, addressing him "why are filing, what did you film?” Musab grabbed the camera and did not allow the soldier to take it. In the meantime, two of the soldiers approached Musab, one of them grabbed Musab's left hand, while the same soldier hit the camera with the barrel of the gun. He broke the outer frame around the lens and hit Musab again on his chest.Musab began shouting at the journalists who were standing nearby. As soon as the journalists arrived, the soldiers went away and began to speak in Hebrew: "You have to leave the place” and then they returned to the checkpoint. The clashes continued until 06:00PM, while Musab left shortly thereafter.


(13th April) The General Investigations in Gaza arrested the journalist Hamza Hammad from his house and detained him for seven hours, questioned him not to mention that he was arrested about one month ago.

According to the investigations of MADA researcher, a force of the general investigations arrived to GAZA at around 4:30PM, on Saturday, 13th April 2019, to the house of the journalist Hamza Jameel Ibrahim Hammad, Watan Radio reporter. The security officers asked him to come with them to the investigations headquarters, in Jabalia Camp, north Gaza Strip. However, the journalist, Hammad, insisted to the go to the center in the family vehicle with his father driving behind the Police jeep. Upon his arrival to the security headquarters at about 5:15PM, the journalist Hammad was transferred to a cell where he stayed for about two hours. Then the director of the center came and interrogated him for about twenty minutes about his relationship with some people in Gaza Strip. Since Hammad denied any relationship with the people the investigator mentioned, the later decided to detain him for 24 hours inside the center, on the grounds that he did not provide correct information. He was re-placed in the cell where he stayed until 11:30PM, when he was taken out of the cell to the interrogation room, where he signed a pledge to refrain from writing on his Facebook account on the economic and political conditions in Gaza Strip, and then he was released.

It should be noted that the journalist Hammad was arrested on 10th March 2019, for several days, on the grounds of the popular movement “we want to live” and he was beaten in the investigations center, in Jabalia Camp.


(13th April) Hamas Police executed several raids to the house of the freelance journalist, Ramez Mahmoud Abu Ghaben, to arrest him on the background of supporting the movement #we-want to live through his page, organized recently in Gaza Strip to protest against the high living costs and taxes.

According to the investigations of MADA field researcher, around 5 security officers who came in a military jeep, raided the house of the freelance journalist, Ramez Mahmoud Ameen Abu Ghaben, (25 years old), located in Al-Falouja, northern Gaza Strip, at around 5:00PM, on Saturday, 13th April 2019, to arrest him without even showing any written or legal notification of the arrest and without clarifying his charge. Abu Ghaben was not in the house, but he was in a street nearby and saw them raiding the house. He called his brother and the later informed him that they were looking for him to arrest him so he moved away to avoid being arrested. Since the day his house was raided until the present moment, some of Hamas security forces have raided his house almost on a daily basis in order to arrest him. Abu Ghaben and his family filed a complaint to the human rights centers and sought to engage mediators close to the security services and the national and Islamic forces to stop pursuing him. However, the security services refused to discuss his case and insisted on his arrest. In the meantime, Abu Ghaben received many letters of death threats through his account on Facebook from unknown sources on the background of his escape and being wanted by the security services.

It is worth mentioning that the journalist Ramez Abu Ghaben was arrested by the security services in Gaza on 10th March when he was in his friend’s house in Mashrou’, Beit Lahia, northern Gaza Strip. He was transferred to the Police Center of Jabalia military camp, where he was beaten and questioned for the charge of causing chaos and disrupting the public order as well as defaming Hamas. As a result of experiencing this terrible incident, he fled for fear of being subjected again to the same practices, since he was arrested in 2017, and 2018 and he was tortured in connection to supporting the protests calling for improved electricity services.


(19th April) The journalist, Ahmad Wishah, was injured by a metal bullet, while the journalist Mohammad Allouh was injured directly by a gas bomb, on Friday, 19th April 2019, while they were covering the events of the peaceful return marches, east of Bureij, central Gaza Strip.

According to the investigations of MADA field researcher, the journalist Ahmad Ibrahim Jameel Wishah, from Bureij Camp, (26 years old), “a volunteer photographer” and a media staff member of the Palestinian Red Crescent, has arrived at around 3:00PM, on Friday, 19th April 2019, to Al-Awda Camp, east of Bureij, accompanied by a media staff of the Palestinian Red Crescent. He was wearing the Red Crescent uniform and carrying the camera in his hand. At around 3:30PM, while the occupation soldiers stationed on the other side of the separation fence (the borders) were firing tear gas bombs and rubber bullets at the demonstrators, he approached a number of paramedics 100 meters away from the separation fence, and started documenting the events while some paramedics strived to assist the injured persons. The soldiers fired a barrage of tear gas bombs, rubber and metal bullets. A rubber-coated metal bullet injured him in the head (behind his left ear), he felt humming in the ear, dizziness and pain in the head, and when he put his hand on the place of the injury, he felt swelling and blood. He went to the closes ambulance in the area, and they rushed to place a stretcher on the injury and directly took him to Al-Aqsa Hospital in Deir Al-Balah. When he arrived at around 4:30PM, his skull was imaged and showed no fractures. He was injured with minor wound which was dressed and then he was discharged.

The journalist, Mohammad Baker Mahmoud Allouh, (31 years old), a photographer and reporter for Sawt Al-Watan radio at about 3.30PM, has arrived to the same location (east of Bureij). He was wearing the PRESS vest and helmet while he was covering the event. He was about 150 meters away from the fence with a group of journalists, while the soldiers stationed on the other side of the fence were firing gas bombs at the demonstrators. At about 5:45PM, a soldier fired a gas bomb directly at him, wounding him in the knee of his left leg. A number of demonstrators rushed him to the field medical point, about 50 meters away from where he was. He was taken to Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital (where he arrived at about 6:20PM) where he made radiology images to his injured leg, and they showed no fracture in the left knee and laceration in addition to displacement of the knee. His entire leg was placed in cast, then he was discharged at around 7:30PM on the same day provided he must review the hospital in two weeks to place platinum plates in the knee. (did he return and what happened with him – researcher Safa’).


(19th April) The photojournalist Yousef Mohammad Masoud was injured by a gunshot fragment in his left leg while he was covering the events of the return peaceful march, east of Khuza’a, Khan Younes, on 19th April 2019.

According to the investigations of MADA field researcher, the freelance photographer, Yousef Mohammad Masoud, (27 years old), from Khan Younes Refugee Camp, arrived at around 4:40PM, on Friday, 19th April 2019, to Al-Awda Camp, east of Khuza’a, to cover the events of the peaceful demonstration on Friday, and he was carrying a camera and wearing the PRESS vest. He stopped at a distance of 300 meters away from the security fence, and started taking photos of about 300 Palestinian demonstrators around the separation fence while three Israeli military jeeps were stationed on the other side of the fence and the soldiers were firing gas bomb and live bullets at the demonstrators. At around 5:20PM, he along with a number of journalists approached the security fence at a distance of 150 meters among the demonstrators. Few minutes later, he approached to a distance of 100 meters at around 5:30PM. From this distance, he saw one of the Israeli snipers on the top of a jeep while other soldiers were standing on sand hills firing gas bombs at the demonstrators. He continued taking pictures of the demonstrators, and in the meantime, while he was turning around, he heard a gunshot and saw dust half a meter away. Then he felt numbness in his left leg, his colleague, the photographer of Xinhua News Agency, Hatem Amr, who was close to him, told him that his feet was bleeding and he was transferred by an ambulance (at around 6:10PM) to the field hospital 700 meters away from the fence. It was found there that he was injured by a gunshot fragment in the left thigh, causing him a superficial wound lower the knee from a gunshot fragment. He was discharged from the field hospital with his brother Bassam Masoud, Reuters Agency photographer, at 6:30PM, and went to Nasser Medical Complex in Kahn Younes, at 9:10PM, to check on his leg where the doctors informed him that his wound was superficial and there is no need to be worried.


(19th April) The photographer Abdelraheem Mohammad Al-Khateeb was injured by a gas bomb in the thigh fired at him by one of the occupation soldiers while he was covering the events of the peaceful return march east of Rafah, Gaza Strip.

According to the investigations of MADA field researcher, Abdelraheem Mohammad Al-Khateeb, (42 years old), a freelance photographer of Anatolia Agency, went, at around 3:30PM, on Friday, 19th April 2019, to east Rafah, and he was wearing the PRESS vest and helmet, carrying two photographic cameras. Upon his arrival to the tent of journalists, 600 meters away from the border fence, waiting for the events to begin, at around 4:30PM, the demonstrators started to come in groups and they gathered at a distance of 300 meters away from the separation fence. He approached them and started taking photos in the time the soldiers were firing gas bombs at the demonstrators. At approximately 6:00PM, while Al-Khateeb was traveling among the demonstrators, he was directly injured by a gas grenade in the left thigh from the back fired by an Israeli soldier. He fell to the ground, and some of the demonstrators approached to help him, but he refused as he believed that he was slightly injured and he continued working. Half an hour after the injury, he felt severe pain and swelling of the place of injury. He left the place and went directly to Abu Yousef Al-Najjar Hospital with a colleague, where he arrived at around 7:00PM. He was no longer able to walk due to severe pain. He was taken by paramedics to the hospital and there was an X-ray done to him. It showed slight injury and he was informed that he needed rest only. His injury was dressed, and he was given some painkillers. He was discharged from the hospital at about 9:00PM and he went home.

On the same day, the photojournalist, Muath Fathi Al-Homs, (23 years old), works for the Media Office of Hamas, in Rafah, has arrived at around 4:00PM to east Rafah, wearing the PRESS vest and started live broadcasting the events and the gathering of demonstrators through the Facebook page. About half an hour later, they moved to the so-called "Jakar Street", which is about 150 meters away from the fence. After about an hour and a half of work, dozens of demonstrators were injured by gas bombs fired by the soldiers stationed on the other side of the fence. Al-Homs was injured in his left foot. Two paramedics approached him and provided him with the first aid, and dressed the place of injury. He decided to continue working but after about half an hour, he felt severe pain. He left the house and went to Abu Yousef Al-Najjar Hospital, where he arrived at about 7:00PM. An X-ray was done to him and it showed no serious injury. The doctors gave him some painkillers and recommended him to have some rest. He was discharged after half an hour.


(23rd April) The Preventive Security Service arrested the journalist Khalil Khaled Thwaib from his house located in Beit Sahour, following several notifications directed to him.

According to the investigations of MADA field researcher, Khalil Khaled Khalil Thwaib, born on 17th May 1997, single man, a freelance photographer, also works in a studio for his father in Bethlehem, was arrested from his house located in Beit Sahour by the Preventive Security Service at around 1:00PM, on 23rd April 2019, following several interrupted summons which started on 20th Jan. 2019 (on the charge of receiving the prisoner Nouraldin Hamdan and whether he had any relationship with him as he assured them that he was then outside the country). The Preventive Security Service has summoned Thwaib on 13th April 2019, at around 9:00AM, on 14th April 2019, and when Thwaib arrived to the headquarters in Bethlehem (he arrived late at around 1:00PM), he was questioned about (the person who assigned him to film the families of prisoners) and he was asked to give the names of prisoners and the interviews he made as well as the questions he asked them (in connection to receiving Nouraldin Hamdan who denied the meeting). He was also asked about the amount he receives for each interview he conducts and the party he works for. He replied that he worked with the journalist Osaid Al-Amarneh and with agencies such as (the Arab TV, Al-Jazeera News, Quds Network, Palestinian Center for Media).  His questioning continued for an hour and he was asked about students of Al-Quds Abu Deis University and his relationship with the same, in addition to the remaining period of his study in the University. After being detained for two hours following the investigation, he was asked to come back again on the next day at around 9:00AM, but Khalil informed them that he will not come back again because he will be busy with his studies. The investigator threatened him and told him to come back addressing him “don’t day words bigger than you”. He seized his identity card to force him to come back on the following day (Monday, 15th April). Indeed, Khalil came back on schedule (at 9:00AM) and they placed him in a room for waiting for an hour. One of the security officers then told him to leave and come back at 10:00AM, on Wednesday, 17th April. Khalil refused to leave without taking back his identity card and one of the security officers called the investigator (Ali Hataba) and the later ordered that he takes back his identity card but to seize his personal phone, with allowing him to take the SIM Card. Khalil did not go on Wednesday, so he was summoned by the Preventive Security Service again on Saturday 20th April 2019 to come on the following day, Sunday 21st April 2019, but he did not respond as well. On 23rd April 2019, the Preventive Security arrested him from his house located in Beit Sahour, at 2:00PM, and transferred him to the headquarters in Bethlehem. At 4:00PM, on the same day, the investigation sessions began with Khalil, the first session took place on the presence of the investigators (Nabeel Al-Tarwa Abu Younes, and Mohammad Shukri) by asking him about the reason why he did not show up according to the summons. Khalil replied that in the previous times he came, no topic was discussed because each time he was waiting for hours to be released. He was also asked about his press work and the investigators requested names of the pages he knows or he is (admin) in. They also asked him to give his cell phone but he did not have it then, not to mention that they asked him to open his Facebook account but he refuses. He was forced to open his account so he can come out of prison and to close his case. At 8:00PM of the same day, he was subjected to a second investigation session by the investigator Mohammad Shukri who started questioning him calmly about his work, his relationship with some journalists, especially the journalist Osaid Al-Amarneh. He replied that Osaid is the one who taught him how to practice the profession of journalism. On the following day, he was re-questioned and asked the same questions, he was also threatened to send a patrol to his house to take all of his personal and work devices. When he refused to respond, he was taken to the prison and he was told to stop posting on the Facebook. He was released on 24th April 2019.


(23rd April) Some Hamas police officers in Al-Nuseirat prevented the journalist Muthana Al-Najjar to conduct interviews in the street with various citizens as part of Ramadan contest episode.

According to the investigations of MADA field researcher, Muthana Suleiman Ibrahim Al-Najjar, (34 years old), married with four children, works for Jerusalem Radio, at around 3:00PM, on Tuesday 23rd April 2019, was conducting interviews with citizens in Al-Nuseirat, Gaza Strip, for a special episode of his program on Ramadan contests. Two persons approached him in their military uniform; one of them introduced himself as the Investigations Director of Al-Nuseirat, in the central district. He ordered him to stop filming and prevented him to continue his work in conducting interviews with the citizens in the street. When Al-Najjar objected, the police officer asked for his press card, and so Al-Najjar gave him his membership card of the Journalists Syndicate. The officer ordered him to leave and Al-Najjar immediately contacted the Media Spokesperson of the Ministry of Interior in Gaza, Bader Bader. The later told him that the police officer’s behavior “is correct and falls within the procedures of the Ministry of Culture”.  Al-Najjar contacted the Head of Public Relations in the Ministry of Culture, Mr. Aref Baker, who denied that. He also contacted the Government Media Official, Salama Maroud, who confirmed to him that no journalist is obliged to have a license to film TV episodes. Al-Najjar left the area without completing the interviews.


(26th April) The photographer of “Ein News” Network, Saif Abdelghafour, suffered severe suffocation while covering the peaceful return march, east of Khan Younes.

According to the investigations of MADA field researcher, Saif Iyad Abdelghafour, (19 years old), from Al-Balad area, central Khan Younes, Gaza Strip, a photographer and reporter of Ein News Network, reported to MADA researcher that “at around 3:45PM, on Friday, 26th April 2019, arrived to Al-Awda Camp, Khuza’a, east of Khan Younes, southern Gaza Strip, to cover the events of the weekly return peaceful march, carrying two cameras. From a distance of 300 meters away from the separation fence on the other side of which the Israeli soldiers were deployed, he started taking some pictures of the soldiers who were firing gas bomb at the demonstrators who approached the fence to a distance of 100 meters and some of them were injured. At around 6:20PM, he approached the separation fence to a distance of 120 meters to take photos of a demonstrator who was lifting three Palestinian flags on one stick walking 40 meters away from the fence. In the meantime, the mentioned demonstrator was injured by a gunshot in the thigh, the paramedics rushed to transfer him while the soldiers and the military jeeps were firing gas bombs which resulted in his injury of severe suffocation that led him to losing his consciousness. He regained consciousness at around 6:45PM, when he found himself in the medical point 700 meters away from the fence where he received the necessary treatment and left to his house. But he continued feeling shortness in breath during the night. On the following day, (Saturday, 27th April 2019) he suffered a seizure for ten minutes.