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“MADA”: 54 violations against media freedoms in Palestine during September mostly committed by Facebook

Ramallah – (10th Oct. 2019) September 2019 has witnessed a noticeable increase in the number of violations against media freedoms in Palestine. MADA has documented a total of 54 attacks compared to 36 during August. It should be noted that two thirds of the violations documented this month are mostly the closures and blocks by Facebook.

 

During this month, Facebook has closed a total of 34 news pages and an account for journalists from the West Bank and Gaza Strip followed by hundreds of thousands of users claiming that they "violate the rules of the Facebook community”. Some of these pages have been completely closed, while other pages were blocked for a limited period of one month.

In addition to the Facebook closures, Twitter has also closed one account belonging to a Palestinian journalist during this month.

 

The Israeli Violations:

The number of Israeli violations decreased from 19 violations documented in August to 15 Israeli attacks during September.

There has been no fundamental change in the manner of the Israeli attacks, most of which were, as usual, among the most serious attacks against the lives of journalists and media freedoms. These attacks included 7 physical injuries by the occupation forces bullets, an arrest, house arrest, prevention from writing on the social media websites, two detentions and prevention from coverage. These violations have affected the following female/male journalists: Dr. Widad Al-Barghouthi, Media Faculty Member at Birzeit University (arrested for 16 days followed by house arrest, not to mention she was prevented from appearing to the social media which is still ongoing until the present time), Abdelrahman Hani Al-Kahlout (two gunshots and a third rubber bullet in the legs), Zakaria Ribhi Baker (rubber bullet in the left hand), Ahmad Mohammad Al-Hindi (rubber bullet in the left arm), Abdelrahman Mohammad Younes (rubber bullet in the left shoulder), Mohammad Ahmad Turkman (rubber bullet in the right leg), Ahmad Abd Malik Othman (Metal bullet in the left hand), Jihad Yousef Al-Qaq (detention and prevention from coverage), Sari Jaradat (detention and prevention from coverage), in addition to detaining at least 4 journalists and prevent them from covering clashes which have taken place in Ramallah.

 

The Palestinian Violations:

The Palestinian violations were limited to four cases, three of which have taken place in Gaza Strip, and only one in Gaza Strip, namely: the arrest of the freelance journalist Mujahed Abdullah Qitt, for a period of ten days, by the Preventive Security Services of Nablus, the arrest of Sawt Al-Shabab Radio Reporter Hani Nabeel Al-Agha by the Internal Security Services of Gaza, summoning the journalist Hamza Janal Ibrahim Hammad by the General Investigations of Gaza Strip and questioning him for allegedly posting on his page about corruption cases of government officials in Gaza Strip, seizing the camera memory of Palestine TV staff by security officers of Hamas.

 

The Facebook Violations:

“Facebook” continued to close and block more and more of the news web pages, especially those belonging to Palestinian media professionals for allegedly “violating the privacy criteria of Facebook community”. It has closed and blocked no less than 34 accounts, in addition to dozens of other accounts of journalists and media outlets during the current year. This is in addition to the hundreds of Facebook pages of activists. It is clear that these closures come within the framework of agreements or understandings entered into by and between Facebook with the occupation government, which means adopting the views of the occupation authorities regarding the terms "incitement and terrorism", disregarding the particular situation of Palestinians as a nation still under the Occupation for decades.

MADA contacted the Public Policies Department of Facebook by a letter dated 30th May 2019 demanding to clarify the reasons why a total of 58 news pages and other personal accounts for female/male Palestinian journalists have been all closed and blocked without any notification or prior clarifications on the reason of closure or block which prejudice the freedom of publishing and expression. Facebook responded to MADA’s letter and asked for a list of the names of accounts and pages closed to search for the reason for the closure. Accordingly, MADA prepared a list and sent it to Facebook.

Following the delayed response by Facebook, MADA sent several messages of inquiry, reminders and follow-up on the results of investigation up until 30th Sep. 2019, where MADA received a response from the Public Policies Department of Facebook, stating that 9 of the 58 closed accounts have been activated. Facebook justified its ongoing closure and blocking of the remaining accounts with reasons allegedly related to "Facebook standards.

 

 It is evident from MADA research that the blocks and closures of news websites and personal accounts belonging to Palestinian journalists, activists and citizens, by the Facebook, that these blocks and closures have widely and noticeably increased recently. Facebook currently is adopting the an electronic mechanism to “filtrate” the content, block and close hundreds of Palestinian pages and websites based on a set of key words (names of Palestinian parties and figures), which if appeared in any content, the user of the account will be blocked for one month of his/her account will be closed once and for all. According to MADA researches, among these key words why pages are being closed recently are: Head of Hamas Political Bureau Ismail Haniyeh, Hamas President in Gaza Yahya Sinwar, Hassan Nasrallah, Secretary General of Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Al-Qassam Brigades, Al-Quds Brigades, Resistance, Martyr, in addition to news of martyrs and wounded persons and the media material of Palestinian demonstrations.

 

Details of Violations:

(1st Sep.) The Israeli occupation army has arrested Dr. Widad Al-Barghouthi, Media Faculty Member at Birzeit University, and detained her for 16 days, imposed house arrest on her and prevented her from posting anything on the social media after she was released on bail.

According to the investigations of MADA researcher, an Israeli occupation army force has raided, at 3:15AM, at dawn, on Sunday corresponding 1st Sep. 2019, the house of the Media Faculty Member at Birzeit University, Dr. Widad Al-Barghouthi (61 years old), located in Kobar, northern Ramallah. After violently knocking on the door, as no one was at house except for Widad and her husband, Abdelkareem Al-Barghouthi (it is worth mentioning that the Army has arrested their son Qassam and daughter Karmel, on 26th August 2019 and on 31st August 2019, respectively). The soldiers, including two female soldiers, have searched the house for two hours, and after they placed Widad in a room and her husband in another, the soldiers took several pictures of her husband, and none of the house contents was destroyed. The soldiers asked Widad whether she is taking any kind of medication and allowed her to take her diabetes and blood pressures pills. Then they arrested her and took her to “Ofer” as it was learned later from “Addameer” Foundation concerned with defending the Palestinian detainees. On 9th Sep. 2019, the Israeli Prosecution Office presented an indictment against Widad Al-Barghouthi accusing her with “incitement” through the Facebook. It should be noted that Widad posted a poem praising the Secretary General of Hezbollah, Hassan Nasrallah, on the occasion of his birthday, and the martyr Saleh Al-Barghouthi from Kobar. On the following day, corresponding 10th Sep. 2019, Ofer Military Court extended her arrested for 14 days, in a hearing session attended by her husband Abdelkareem Al-Barghouthi, her brother’s son Aktham Al-Barghouthi, and the advocate of Addameer Foundation, Mahmoud Hassan. Widad’s lawyer attempted to contest the accusation of the indictment (which claimed that Widad Al-Barghouthi’s posts were liked by thousands of Facebook users) by affirming the fact that Widad is a poet, academic, media professional, and educated, and that her posts have only been liked by a limited number of Facebook users compared to Israeli inciting posts liked by millions of users, this was before the Prosecution requested that the court hearing be confidential claiming that it wishes to display and present “confidential material”. During the court’s hearing, Widad Al-Barghouthi was prevented from hand shaking her family members who attended the sessions or even speak with them. After the hearing, Widad was transferred to Eshel Prison even though she has spent the period before this session transferring between Ofer and Maccobiya Investigation Center. Ofer Military Court, at a late hour on Monday, corresponding 16th Sep. 2019, has issued the decision of parole for the Media Faculty Member at Birzeit University, Dr. Widad Al-Barghuothi, at Jabara Military Checkpoint of Tulkarem, northern the West Bank. The court imposed three conditions on Widad on release, first: Not to make any press statements to the media and not to use the social media sites, second: house arrest in a residence within (c) area and never leave it at all (which made her choose a house of her friends located in Al-Ram, and the name of the house owner and its address were provided to the military court), third: to pay a financial bail of 40,000 NIS according to the court’s decision. On September 24, the court held a hearing session for the media professor Widad Al-Barghouthi, but it did not decide on anything, only the parole conditions were renewed for Widad, namely, the house arrest within “C” area, not using the social media until the coming hearing before the court which was scheduled on 29th October and until then Widad shall remain subject to these conditions.

 

(4th Sep.) An occupation army force has detained the journalist Sari Jaradat and prevented him from filming at Al-Shuhada’ Street, Hebron.

According to the investigations of MADA field researcher, Sari Shareef Abdelghaffar Jaradat, (33 years old), from Sa’er/northern Hebron, a cameraman and reporter of Al-Mayadeen TV and Ikhlas Turkish Agency, has arrived at around 9:00AM, on Wednesday, corresponding 4th Sep. 2019, to the military checkpoint, located at the entrance of Al-Shuada’ street, central Hebron (referred to as Checkpoint 56) on his way to Tal Al-Ramida (a block where there is a settlement through which Al-Shuhada’ street can be reached) to cover the procedures of the occupation and settlers against the Palestinian citizens upon the arrival of the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, to the area. When he approached the checkpoint, one of the soldiers informed him that there is no entry even though he showed his press card. After an argument with the soldier, Jaradat stepped back and went another road between the houses until he arrived Al-Shuhada’ street heading to Tal Al-Ramida. While he was filming, one of the soldiers approached him and asked for his identity card, and detained him for 15 minutes near the checkpoint established closed to Qurtoba School (80 meters away from Checkpoint 56), and then asked him to leave the area. Jaradat returned and moved towards Checkpoint 56 where he was stopped by another soldier, who asked for his identity card and prevented him from filming, not to mention that he detained him for several minutes and asked him to leave the area. Jaradat refused to do and went to the streat leading to Tal Al-Ramida, 20 meters away from the mentioned checkpoint, where he was stopped again by one of the soldiers and prevented from filming. In the meantime, one of the officers of the Israeli Civil Administration arrived and asked him why he was there, Jaradat replied that he is a journalist and it is his right to be there to cover the events. The officer answered that “there is a security situation here and you cannot be here”. Jaradat replied that the orders announced by the Israeli Army are supposed to begin in the evening, and there is nothing impeding his work as a journalist in the meantime. Half an hour later of the argument, the officer ordered Jaradat to leave the area and the later responded for fear of being detained again.

 

(6th Sep.) The journalist Ahmad Al-Hindi was injured by a rubber bullet fired at him by the Israeli occupation soldiers while he was covering the peaceful return march taking place east of Gaza.

According to the investigations of MADA field researcher, Ahmad Mohammad Ali Al-Hindi (27 years old), married and works as a cameraman and reporter of Siraj Media Network, has arrived, at noon on Friday, corresponding 6th Sep. 2019, to Malka area, eastern of Gaza, to cover the peaceful return march organized weekly to protest against the ongoing siege imposed on Gaza. At around 5:45PM, while he was near a group of demonstrators who were lifting up Palestinian flags and chanting against the occupation, 400 meters away from the separation fence on the other side of which the Israeli soldiers were deployed, one of the Israeli occupation soldiers fired a barrage of rubber bullets randomly at the demonstrators and the journalist Al-Hindi, even though he was wearing the blue Press vest. This resulted in his injury by a rubber bullet in his left arm, he fell to the ground and immediately the paramedics rushed and took him to the field medical point established 700 meters away from the separation fence where his injury was dressed. Half an hour later, he felt that he had fever and could not move his injured hand. He was taken to Al-Shifa Medical Complex in Gaza City, where his injured hand was imaged and it showed damage caused to the nerves. The doctors recommended him to take physical therapy at the Neurology Clinic of the Complex until complete recovery.

 

(9th Sep.) The cameraman Abdelrahman Younes was injured by a rubber bullet fired at him by one of the Israeli soldiers while he was covering a demonstration at the northern entrance of Al-Bireh.

According to the investigations of MADA field researcher a march consisting of 150 persons has launched on Monday, corresponding 9th Sep. 2019, in front of the Red Crescent of Al-Bireh, condemning the martyrdom of prisoner Bassam Al-Sayeh, in an Israeli prison. The march went to Beit El checkpoint, at the entrance of Al-Bireh City, two kilometers away from the Red Crescent. A number of journalists, including Abdelrahman Mohammad Younes (23 years old) a cameraman of Russia Today TV, went to cover the march. When the march approached the checkpoint at around 12:30PM, the occupation soldiers started firing tear gas bombs heavily at the demonstrators, which forced them to step back towards the Fuels Station and the City Inn square closed to the checkpoint (200 meters away). However, the clshed between the demonstrators and the occupation soldiers continued in the area close to the checkpoint. In the meantime, at around 1:00PM, the soldiers fired rubber bullets heavily at the demonstrators, which resulted in the injury of the journalist Abdelrahman Younes by a rubber bullet in his left shoulder, while he was filming the events even though he was 100 meters away from the soldiers and he was in the Press uniform holding the camera. The voluntary paramedics of the Red Crescent rushed and provided him with the first aid and then he left, and went to Palestine Medical Complex where the doctors informed him the his injury was minor.

 

(9th Sep.) the Preventive Security Services of Nablus arrested Mujahed Abdullah Sadeq Qitt, from Madama/southern Nablus, and detained him for a period of ten days after he was summoned by a phone call to come to the headquarters of the Services located in Jabal At-Tur, Nablus.

According to the investigations of MADA field researcher, Mujahed Abdullah Sadeq Qitt (29 years old), from Madama, southern Nablus, a piece wage system reporter of Quds News Network and other foundations, has received on 8th Sep. 2019, a phone call from the Preventive Security of Nablus asking him to come to the headquarters in the City. At 9:00 AM, on the following day, corresponding 9th Sep. 2019, he went to the headquarters where he was detained. On 11th Sep. 2019, Mujahed was brought before the judge and the General Prosecutor, in the presence of his lawyer Reema Al-Sayed, has accused him of “receiving funds from abroad” and he extended his detention for a week. His detention continued in the Preventive Security Services since the moment he was arrested until 15th Sep. 2019, during which he was questioned seven times about his press work and filming and his work with Quds News Network, how much money he receives, and how does he receive the money. He was also questioned about the money transfers he received from abroad for his work. On 15th Sep. 2019, he was transferred from the Preventive Security Services headquarters to Junaid Prison. During his detention at Junaid Prison which lasted for three days, he was subject to three investigation sessions on his press work, but he was not insulted or assaulted. He was visited by the Red Crescent inside his cell and they took his complete statement on everything he is experiencing. On the morning of Wednesday, corresponding 18th Sep. 2019, Mujahed was brought before the Court’s judge who asked him “whether he received any money from abroad and whether anything was caught with him”. The judge decided to release him on unpaid bail of 3000 JD. On the following day, Thursday, corresponding 19th Sep. 2019, after completing the procedures, he was released at 6:00PM. 

 

(11th Sep.) The journalist Mohammad Turkman was injured by a rubber bullet fired at him by one of the occupation soldiers while he was at his work in Birzeit.

According to the investigations of MADA field researcher, Mohammad Ahmad Fayez Turkman, born in 1997, a freelance cameraman, went at 4:00AM, on Wednesday, corresponding 11th Sep. 2019 to cover the raiding of the Israeli occupation army in Birzeit[1], while he was in the center of Birzeit in a place known as “Al-Tota Square”, 150 meters away from the army soldiers who were in the center, at a distance of 30 meters away from young men who were throwing stones at the occupation soldiers, the soldiers were firing rubber bullets and tear gas bombs as well as sound bombs at the demonstrators, while Turkman was wearing the Press uniform and taking some pictures of the events, one of the soldiers fired at him a rubber bullet which injured his right leg.

 

(12th Sep.) An Israeli occupation army force has entered the center of Ramallah at dawn on 12th Sep. 2019, and raided the Office of the General Union of the workers in the services and free businesses sector in the building of the Chamber of Commerce, and it started seizing the records of cameras from some shops, which resulted in clashes in which groups of young men started throwing stones at the army patrols while the soldiers started firing live bullets, rubber-coated metal bullets and tear gas bombs which resulted in several causalities. In the meantime, a number of journalists have arrived to cover these events, and some of them went to Eifel Café’ to film the headquarters of the union and the clashes at Rukab street. Among these journalists, was the journalist Mohammad Jareer Hamdan (30 years old) works at the Public Relations Department at the Colonization & Wall Resistance Commission, and the journalist Ali Mohammad Dar Ali (35 years old) Palestine TV Reporter, the freelance journalist Mohammad Turkman (22 years old), Al-Arabiya TV cameraman and Quds News Network, Mutasem Saqf Al-Hait.

According to the investigations of MADA researcher, the occupation soldiers fired rubber bullets directly at the journalists who were at Eifel Café’ which resulted in destroying the windows of the café. Later on, four soldiers went to the third floor and detained the journalists in the place and prevented them from moving or leaving the building for half an hour. The soldiers were cursing and threatening them with arrest and beating. Then they expelled them from the café and fired gas bombs at the entrance of the building which resulted in the injury of a number of journalists with suffocation.

 

(13th Sep.) The families living in Kufr Malek (located 18 kilometers to the east of Ramallah), have organized on Friday, corresponding 13th Sep. 2019, a march protesting against the construction of an Israeli settlement outpost over the territory of the village. The demonstrators, including foreign activities, went to Ein Samia area/5 kilometers to the east of Kufr Malek, close to the new settlement outpost. A number of journalists went to cover this event. After the citizens finished Friday prayers in Ein Samia area, they took off in the march towards the close settlement road, which was confronted by the occupation soldiers with gas bombs, and rubber bullets fired at the demonstrators. At around 1:30PM, the occupation forces detained the freelance cameraman Jihad Yousef Al-Qaq (24 years old) who has been covering the march for an hour almost. They seized his camera and personal identity card and prevented him from using his cell phone or contact anyone. He was questioned about the reason why he was then and for who he works and films. After half an hour of detention and questioning, the soldiers handcuffed his hands with metal handcuffs and prevented him from moving. Then he was forced to sign an undertaking not to leave the area immediately. While the occupation soldiers suppressed the march, their attacks also affected the other journalists who were covering the protesting march, by firing tear gas bombs directly at them and forcing them to leave the area under threats of issuing tickets against them. Among the journalists who were affected by the attacks and assaults are: Mohammad Turkman, Reuters Cameraman, Abbas Momani, the French Agency cameraman, Al-Arabiya TV cameraman, Mutasem Saqf Al-Hait, the freelance cameramana, Mohammad Awad, APA Agency cameraman, Ayat Arqawi.

 

(13th Sep.) The journalist Zakaria Baker was injured by a rubber bullet while he was covering the events of the peaceful return march, east of Bureij Camp, central Gaza Strip.

According to the investigations of MADA researcher, the journalist Zakaria Ribhi Shaban Baker (25 years old), a freelance journalist, has arrived on Friday, corresponding 13th Sep. 2019, to the east of Bureij Camp, central Gaza Strip, to cover the events of the weekly return march organized near the separation fence on a weekly basis to protest against the siege over Gaza. At around 5:00PM, while he was 500 meters away from the fence, on the other side of which the Israeli soldiers are deployed, filming the peaceful demonstrators who approached the separation fence, an Israeli soldier who was standing above a military jeep, fired several rubber bullets directly at him, one of which injured his left hand. He was transferred by the Palestinian Red Crescent paramedics who were in the field medical point established at a distance of 700 meters away from the separation fence and it was found that he was injured with bruises and he was given the necessary aid. The doctors recommended him to review the Orthopedic Section at Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital, on Tuesday (three days later) to check on his status. Indeed, Zakaria went to the hospital where he underwent some tests until it was found that his injury caused him external harm only.

 

(20th Sep.) The photojournalist Abdelrahman Al-Kahlout was injured by two gunshots and a third rubber bullet while he was covering the return peaceful march east of Gaza.

According to the investigations of MADA field researcher, the photojournalist of Zuma Press American Website and Shihab Local Agency, Abdelrahman Hani Abdelqader Al-Kahlout (23 years old0, a single man, has arrived at 5:00PM, on Friday, corresponding 20th Sep. 2019, to Malka area, east of Gaza to cover the events of the return peaceful march organized near the separation fence. 10 minutes later, while he was 300 meters away from the separation fence on the other side of which the Israeli soldiers were deployed, and before the events even begun, and before the crowds of demonstrators gathered, three soldiers who were inside their jeeps stationed on the other side of the fence fired rubber and live bullets at him which resulted in the injury of his right leg with a live gunshot in the calf (the back muscle of the leg), causing an entry without exit. He was also injured at the same moment with another gunshot in the back of his left knee (an entry without exit). Furthermore, he was injured by a rubber bullet in his left knee as well, even though he was wearing the Press uniform. Immediately, the paramedics of the Palestinian Red Crescent took him to the field medical point established 700 meters away from the separation fence where he received the first aid. His wound was dressed in an attempt to stop the bleeding and then he was taken by an ambulance to Al-Quds Hospital, in Tal Al-Hawa, Gaza City, where his legs were imaged and the x-rays images showed live bullets in his legs. Accordingly, he stayed at Al-Quds Hospital for a week during which he was given pain killers and antibiotics. He was discharged on 29th Sep. 2019, and he is waiting for a surgery to be scheduled to remove the live bullet from his legs.

 

(20/09) – Palestinian journalist Ahmed Abdel-Malik Ibrahim Othman was wounded with a metal bullet in the left hand while covering the weekly demonstration against settlement in Kafr Qaddum, a Palestinian town located in the east of Qalqilya.  

According to MADA’s researcher, Ahmed Abdel-Malik Ibrahim Othman (34 years old), who works as a reporter for Palestine TV, arrived at 12:30 in the afternoon on Friday 20/09/2019 to the town of Kafr Qaddum, accompanied by his colleague, photographer Mohamed Enaya, to cover the weekly march that is being organized every Friday since the past eight years in the town, which is located against the settlement.

When the march started after Friday prayers, around one o'clock in the afternoon, the soldiers began attacking the Palestinian protesters, stormed the village and stationed on the house of a citizen, 500 meters from the closed town entrance. While groups of protesters began throwing stones towards the soldiers, who were about 100 meters away from them, the Israeli soldiers responded by attacking the protestors with random sound and metal bullets, which led to wounding a number of them. Ahmad and his colleagues were forced to move away in the middle of the clashes, and while Ahmad was in one of the village alleys a few meters away from a group of demonstrators, the soldiers fired several rubber-coated metal bullets, one of which hit the journalist Ahmed Abdel-Malik in his left hand. Ahmad fell on the ground, while his colleague Abdullah Aqel, a freelance photographer, helped him quickly to get to an ambulance, which was in a nearby area, where he was provided with the necessary medical aid. After about half an hour, Ahmad was transferred to Darwish Nazzal Governmental Hospital in Qalqilya, where his hand was x-rayed to confirm the absence of fractures, and he was granted a six-day medical leave.

 

(26th Sep.) The Internal Security Services in Gaza arrested the journalist Hani Nabeel Al-Agha.

According to the investigations of MADA field researcher, a patrol of the Internal Security Services of Gaza Strip (marked from the outside with “the Internal Security Services”), with a number of officers in civilian clothing inside it, has arrived at around 12:00PM, on 25th Sep. 2019, to the family house of Hani Nabeel Al-Agha (42 years old), located in Al-Satar Al-Gharbi area, Khan Younes, southern Gaza Strip, a reporter of Sawt Al-Shabab Radio, broadcasting from the West Bank. Hani was not home then, his brother Mohammad went out to the Internal Security officers who asked him about his brother Nabeel and he replied that Nabeel was not at home. They gave him a notification that says “Hani Al-Agha .. under the Law of the State of Palestine, and based on the powers conferred upon us, you have to come to the headquarters of the Internal Security headquarters, Qasr Al-Hakim/Gaza, Qasr Al-Hakim Office, on Thursday corresponding 26th Sep. 2019, at 9:00AM. At this time, Hani Al-Agha arrived to the headquarters of the Internal Security Services in Gaza City, and remained on a phone contact with his family members until about 12:30PM, he told his family that he was in the waiting hall, and then he lost the contact and turned off his cell phone. His mother went to the Services headquarters at around 8:00PM, on the same day, but they told her that he was not there.  On Sunday morning, corresponding 29th Sep. 2019, Hani Al-Agha’s family went to Al Mezan Center for Human Rights and the Independent Commission for Human Rights in Gaza City, and informed them that Hani was detained and asked them to assign him a lawyer. In the meantime, Hani’s brother, Mohammad made a phone call to his Hani’s cell phone at around 11:00AM on Sunday, corresponding 29th Sep. 2019, and found it open, but no one answered the call which was repeated three times. Then someone called Mohammad from another number (other than Hani’s phone) and introduced himself as an officer of the Internal Security Services and told Mohammad than Hani was detained by the Services and needs “some clothes and a sum of money”. Mohammad immediately went to the Services headquarters in Gaza City and arrived at around 12:50PM, and delivered the belongings to some of the services officers without even seeing his brother.

 

(27th Sep.) Some security officers of Gaza Strip have assaulted Palestine TV staff and seized the camera memory impeded their work while they were covering the events of the return march in Malka area.

According to the investigations of MADA field researcher, Palestine TV staff, consisting of: the reporter Sali Ibrahim Mahmoud Al-Sakani, the cameraman Momen Mohammad Hashim Momen Al-Shobaki (44 years old), went at around 3:30PM, on 27th Sep. 2019, to Malka area to cover the events of the peaceful return march, and to interview the participating demonstrators, in addition to filming some clips and scenes for a television report. At around 6:00PM, and upon completing the filming for the report, while they were waiting the 6:00PM News to leave their sites in the field in a live broadcast through Palestine TV screen, in Ramallah City, filming the events of the return peaceful march, the reporter Sali Al-Sakani, at around 6:35PM, delivered a direct message of one minute and a half. Upon completing the direct coverage, the staff started preparing to leave with their vehicle at 500 meters away from the separation fence near Jakr Street. The staff was surprised by “a black Ford” not marked with Security, with three individuals in civilian clothing inside it, and they introduced themselves as officers from “the Internal Security Services” and detained the staff for allegedly filming security officers while the officers were assaulting and attacking the demonstrators to force them to leave the border area. Three of the security officers pulled the cameraman Momen Al-Shobaki violently, and there was an argument between the staff members and the security officers for fifteen minutes, during which they insisted that Al-Shobaki opens the camera memory to watch the filmed material, even though he confirmed to them that he did not see any security officers assaulting the demonstrators and forcing them to leave the border area as he was preoccupied and waiting for the live broadcast through the TV. However, one of the officers took the camera from Al-Shobaki and asked him to give the camera memory, even though he watched the filmed material claiming that he did not see anything. Al-Shobaki offered them to go with him to the TV headquarters and watch all of the filmed scenes again, but they refused and insisted to take the memory. They seized it noting that this assault resulted in delaying the staff to complete their report which was supposed to be broadcasted in the 9:00PN News.

 

(30th Sep.) Facebook continued to close and block more news pages and those belonging to Palestinian media professionals claiming that they “violate the privacy criteria of the Facebook community”.

According to the investigations of MADA researcher, Facebook has blocked and closed, during September, a number of accounts for Palestinian journalists for allegedly posting materials including political content addressing some Palestinian parties, such as: “Hamas, the Islamic Jihad, the Popular Front” and others related to photos of martyrs and injured persons of the return marches. The blocks and closures affected the following pages and accounts: Sawt Al-Aqsa Reporter, Khan Younes, Ismail Abu Omar, followed by (14,000) closed for one month after posting news about the Popular Front Movement, the page of the freelance journalist Hassan Islaih, followed by 31,000, because of the same news, the page of Barq News Network, Gaza, Hassan Abu Warda, followed by 8,000, the page of Sabq 24 editor, journalist Mohammad Jarbou, who was prevented from posting on the page for one month, deactivating the account of Khan Younes Media Network, Azzam Al-Abadla, deactivating the account of Sawt Al-Shaab reporter, central Gaza Strip, Mahmoud Allouh, deactivating the page of Sawt Al-Quds reporter, northern Gaza Strip, Mohammad Abdelnabi, prohibition of posting on the page of journalist Yousef Al-Husni, who works as a Media Manager at Rawasi Palestine, for a period of one month, closing the pages of cameramen of Rowad Al-Haqiqa Network of Rafah and Khan Younes, Farhan Abu Hadayed, Malek Al-Zamli, Anas Al-Ghoul, Mazen Qudaih, and the Director of Rowad Al-Haqiqa Network, Ramzi Al-Shakhreet, deactivating the page of journalist Amro Tabash, the cameraman of Social Media Section, Al-Kufiya TV, deleting the accounts of journalists Mohammad Al-Hummus and Ismail Al-Ghoul, who are working at the new media section of Palestine Newspaper. Moreover, Facebook has also blocked in the evening of Friday, corresponding 27th Sep. 2019, “Palestine Online Website”, of Palestine Local Newspaper, followed by 2.2 million users for allegedly violating the criteria of Facebook community.

In the same context, Twitter has closed the page of journalist and author, Iyad Al-Qara.

 

(30th Sep.) Facebook has closed no less than 18 news and journalists pages and accounts followed by hundreds of thousands in the West Bank, namely:

  1. Bethlehem Daily News, a page concerned with the social and political news of Bethlehem. This page was closed by Facebook administration for allegedly “violating the criteria of posting”, even though it is followed by 200,000 users.
  2. Dura Media Network, a social, cultural, and scientific news network, in addition to commercial ads. Live broadcasting was prohibited for this page, a month ago, the rate of accessing the page on Facebook was limited. The Page administration received a notification of being subject to closure due to posting in contrary to the rules of Facebook. On 15th Sep. 2019, the page received a message from the Facebook that it is subject to restriction on its posts and may be blocked and closed.
  3. Hadeeth Al-Yawm, a public news page concerned with transmitting the voice of the Arab youth, most of its posts address the political situation in Gaza Strip. On 27th Sep. 2019, it was completely closed by Facebook after receiving several warning messages, not to mention that its posts were repeatedly restricted by Facebook, noting that it is followed by about 3.5 millions.
  4. The journalist Ahmad Kamel Amro, 23 years old, from Dura, a reporter and cameraman of Sawt Al-Shabab Radio, broadcasting from his location in Al-Thahriya Town, managing a social media page called “Dura City”, access to which has been limited after deleting 6 posts including photos of martyrs of Fateh Movement, and another post on the release of one of the prisoners, the Facebook administration, without any warning, limited the access to the page and its posts. As a result, another page was created in the same name, however the Facebook Administration sent it a message that no post may be published on the page run by the mentioned journalist, and this message appears to him on the pages he run, noting that he was the page admin but became a supervisor.
  5. Dura City, a social page concerned with the social, political and artistic news of the City.
  6. The journalist Imad Al-Mohtaseb, programmes presenter at Al-Marah Radio, Hebron City, prohibited from live broadcasting on his personal page on Facebook claiming that “he breaches the rules of Facebook Community” because of a post he published on his personal Facebook account.
  7. The page of Diala Jwehan/Al-Hayat Al-Jadida reporter, on 3rd Sep. 2019, Diala’s page was blocked by Facebook before for allegedly :breaching the rules of posting on the Facebook” after she posted on the events taking place at Al-Aqsa. Furthermore, she was prohibited to live broadcast on her Facebook page for a period of one month (until 2nd Oct. 2019) as she was informed through a message by the Network. She was also banned from commenting and posting on the page of “Al-Hayat Al-Jadida” even though she was one of the admins of the page. It should be noted that since the beginning of 2019, some of the videos uploaded to the Youtube were deleted after they were added by the journalist Diala for allegedly breaching the posting rules.
  8. The journalist Aseel Eid, the presenter of “Good Morning Palestine”, broadcasted by Palestine TV, as on 29th August 2019, she was blocked for one month (it ended on Tuesday, corresponding 30th Sep. 2019). She was also prohibited to live broadcast anything for 17 days approximately (she was not informed of the period of prohibition, and she knew it when the block was removed). This is the second time her page is blocked not to mention that accessing the page was also restricted which significantly harmed her work and ability to communicate the families of Qaladia Camp particularly, in her capacity as the admin of Qalandia Media Center page as well, noting that the admins of “Qalandia Media Page” have challenged the prohibition of posting one day later and they did not receive any response from the Facebook Administration.
  9. The journalist and field researcher of B’Tselem For Human Rights/Video Section, Manal Da’na, from Hebron, as in the beginning of 2019, her Facebook was deleted more than eight times, and she was prohibited from live broadcasting, and commenting for allegedly breaching the rules of posting. Since the beginning of September 2019, she was prohibited from commenting by Facebook for a period of one month, and on 29th Sep. 2019, her personal page was completely blocked. The journalist Da’na usually posts videos of the violations of the army and settlers on her page on a daily basis in addition to videos filmed by volunteers in the institution.
  10. Yazan Haddad, filming technician and media montage, his Facebook page was stopped 3 times during 2019, and on 17th Sep. 2019 his Facebook was deactivated, his email was deleted, for allegedly “breaching the rules of posting on the Facebook” after he posted a photo of Jerusalem City and the old town of it.
  11. The journalist Itaf Daghlas/Al-Jazeera Net reporter, on the beginning of September 2019, accessing his posts was restricted and he was prohibited from commenting on his personal page and accessing any post to read it unless through the page of the person who posted. He was also prevented from live broadcasting on his page until 2nd Oct. 2019. One of his posts was blocked to be published in 2014, which was a photo of one of the martyrs claiming that he breached the rules of posting.
  12. The journalist Romal Sweiti, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida Newspaper reporter, runs more than one news website on the Facebook, prohibited from live broadcasting for four months and his personal account was deactivated during September 2019 and he was not informed by any warning message by the Facebook claiming that he violated the rules of posting.
  13. The journalist Mohammad Abu Thabet, works for several local radios in Nablus City. In the beginning of the year, his personal page on Facebook was deleted twice, and on the beginning of September 2019, he was prohibited from live broadcasting on his Facebook page, and prevented from posting without being informed that he breached or violated the rules of posting.
  14. The freelance journalist, Hamad Ali Taqatqa, currently works as reports preparer for Palestine News Network, in the beginning of September 2019, he was prohibited from posting on his Facebook page for two consecutive months, not to mention that his access to posts and videos was restricted as well. He received a message from Facebook that “you have posted some thins not following our community criteria more than once” and most of the posts intended to address the funeral ceremonies of Palestinian martyrs.
  15. The journalist Huthaifa Jamous, works for Quds Network, prohibited from posting on his personal account and at Quds News page, starting from 28th August 2019 until 28th Nov. 2019, not to mention that some of his posts and photos were deleted for allegedly violating the community criteria.
  16. “Ida’at”, a social “that is varied and far from any concerns orworries”, in the beginning of September 2019, the comments on this page’s posts were blocked without sending any warning message to the page or clarifying the reason in this regard.
  17. Deimos E-Journal (a news and media website), on 13th Sep. 2019, accessing the posts of this journal was restricted for three days, and on 19th Sep. 2019, posting on the page was blocked for three days due to some news posts more than one year ago, the posts did not reach the followers which amounted to 117,000.
  18. The Media student at Birzeit University, Najd Hussam, the live broadcast was stopped on her page for 80 days claiming that she violated the rules of posting, not to mention that her old posts on her page were deleted during September 2019, even though they have been posted 5 years ago.

 

(30th Sep.) The General Investigations of Jabalia Police in Gaza Strip have summoned the journalist Hamza Hammad and questioned him for allegedly posting materials on his page about corrupted officials in Gaza Strip.

According to the investigations of MADA field researcher, one of Hamas Security Officers, in civilian clothing, came to the house of Al-Watan Radio reporter, and the officer of Democratic Media Gathering in Gaza Strip, Hamza Jamal Ibrahim Hammad (25 years old), at around 10:00AM, on Monday 30th Sep.  to deliver a notification that he must go to the General Investigations headquarters at the Police Center once he receives the notification, without clarifying the reasons. However, Hammad was not home then, and his brother “Khalil” received the notification. When the family informed Hamza of the notification, he did not go immediately to the headquarters as he was preoccupied. He went to the police center at around 2:00PM on that day, where the police officers at the General Investigations of Jabalia Military Center informed him that the office hours have ended and he need to go on the following morning (1st Oct.) to the Technical Resources Section at Al-Shamal District Building of Hamas Security Services. Based on this, the journalist Hammad, at around 8:30AM, on Tuesday, corresponding 1st Oct. went to the Technical Resources Section, after one hour and a half of staying in a room with some of Hamas police officers, the Section Director, Saed Thaher, started investigating with him, according him of posting and publishing on his Facebook page some corruption files of officials at Gaza Strip under the title “Al-Mashraha/Morgue” through the social media. He was questioned about a post on one of the General Investigations Services officials. However, Hammad denied all of this, and accordingly, they seized his cell phone, searched his account on Facebook as well as his messages, and when they did not find anything related to the accusations attributed to him, he was asked to sign an undertaking “not to misuse the technological means and not to incite against any governmental figure”. At around 11:30, they gave him his cell phone and released him, but one of the security officers in the room addressed him when he was leaving “you will be back again”.

 

 


[1] It was found on the following day that the Army has raided Birzeit to arrest two young men one of whom is a student.