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“MADA”: 78 attacks against media freedoms in Palestine committed in November including one Palestinian violation

Ramallah (04/12/2019) – The number of documented attacks committed against media freedoms in Palestine during November 2019 totaled 78. These attacks and violations included 54 attacks committed by the Israeli occupation, in addition to those committed by “WhatsApp” which closed no less than 23 accounts belonging to journalists from the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Among these 78 attacks, only one was committed by the Palestinian authorities, documented in Gaza Strip.

The Israeli occupation forces and authorities, during November, have escalated their attacks (in quality and quantity). Their violations and attacks have increased from 27 violations committed during Octoberto 54 committed during November. In other words, they increased by 100%, which represents the double of their violations during the preceding month.

While the number of Palestinian violations documented during October jumped to 61 violations as a direct result of the decision to close 49 pages and websites, November witnessed only one Palestinian violation against media freedoms, which was offset by a significant increase in the number, violence and severity of the Israeli attacks documented this month.

Most of the Israeli violations (totaling to 54) committed during November fall under the most dangerous attacks on the lives of journalists and media freedoms, most notably the closure of Palestine TV office in Occupied Jerusalem by the occupation authorities and preventing it from working for six months under a decision by the Israeli Minister of Interior. The execution of the closure decision took place in parallel with questioning and detaining a number of staff members of Palestine TV and Al-Arz Co. for Media Services hosting the TV office.

Among the most serious Israeli attacks against the lives of journalists, documented during the last month, is the injury of 18 female/male journalists directly by the Israeli occupation live and rubber bullets, sound and gas bombs, or fragments, while they were covering different events throughout the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The most serious and gravity of which is the injury of journalist Moath Amarneh with a gunshot in his left eye which resulted the loss of his sight. The bullet was removed in a surgery even though he is still waiting to complete his therapy as there is still a fragment in his eye which settled adjacent to the cerebrum that was not removed in the surgery and it puts his own life at risk.

Furthermore, another number of female/male journalists were injured as a result of the suffocating gas bombs or violent beating. For instance, the case of journalist Mohammad Tannouh who was assaulted by beating, which ledto causing him wounds in his forehead, foot, and bruises in his back and neck, not to mention the detentions, prevention from coverage, and other targeting procedures against journalists.

The most prominent Israeli attacks included: closing Palestine TV offices in Jerusalem and preventing them from working for a period of six months after breaking into the headquarters of Al-Arz Co. for Media Services from which Palestine TV receives media services, the summoning and questioning of a number of staff members working for the Company and Palestine TV and seizing a number of the TV equipment. These attacks also included the injury of the photojournalist Moath Ibrahim Amarneh by a gunshot-fragment in his left eye which led to the loss of his eye and undergoing a surgery to remove the gunshot. The injury of Abelraheem Mohammad Al-Khateeb (three rubber bullets, one in his right arm and two in the helmet and vest), Hani Hammad Al-Shaer (rubber bullet below the neck), Bader Sulaiman Al-Najadi (a rubber bullet in the right hand palm), Majdi Mohammad Ishtayya (detained and assaulted), Hisham Kamel Abu Shaqra, the cameraman of Anatolia Agency, Abbas Al-Momani, the cameraman of the French Agency, Mohammad Ali Turkman, the cameraman of Reuters Agency, Ahmad Waleed Al-Arouri, the cameraman of Al-Ayyam Newspaper, Mutasem Saqf Al-Hait, the cameraman of Al-Arabiya TV and Quds News, the freelance photographer Hamza Amjad Afana the freelance photographer Ramez Awad, who were severely suffocated and fainted after they were deliberately targeted with gas bombs, Ahmad Hassan Al-Safadi (arrested and then a decision was issued to expel him from Salah Al-Deen Street for 15 days, and he was asked to sign a non-paid bail of 5,000 NIS), Saffiya Qawwar, Baladna Radio reporter (her camera was seized), Sari Abdelghaffar Jaradat (a gas bomb in his left arm), Mohammad Allaham, the Chairman of Freedoms Committee at the Journalists Syndicate, works for MAAN Agency (fracture in the Metatarsal bones due to a sound bomb and cramping as a result of the suffocating gas), Munjed Jado, Director of BNN (gas bomb in the head), Ali Ismail Al-Abed, reporter of Al-Huriya News Network (gas bomb in the left leg), Raed Al-Shareef, the reporter of Al-Ghad Al-Arabi TV (gas bomb in his right foot), Alaa Al-Deen Mohammad Al-Abed, the reporter of Palestine TV and the Director of Baladna Radio (a sound bomb fragment in the foot), Thaer Al-Fakhouri (sound bomb in his left leg), the freelance journalist Amro Al-Amour (a gas bomb in his right foot), Hamad Ali Taqatqa, the cameraman of Palestine News Network (assault by beating, detention and seizing work equipment), Ahmad Mohammad Tanouh who worked for MAAN, presents programs in Bethlehem 2000 Radio, (assaulted and beaten, which resulted in injuring and wounding him in the forehead/right eye, and another wound in the left leg, in addition to bruises in his back and neck), Mohammad Hamdan (detained, and seizing his equipment), Musab Abdelsamad Al-Tamimi (prevented from coverage and seizing his cell phone), Abdelmajeed Mohammad Adwan (rubber bullet in the foot), Mohammad Turkman (rubber bullet in the foot), Ramez Awad (gas bomb in the head causing him a wound that was stitched with two stitches), Asef Nouf (gas bomb in the shoulder), the Media Student Baraa Arar (sound bomb in the chest), Mohammad Waleed Al-Azza (rubber bullet in the head-was not harmed because he was wearing the helmet), Ashraf Mohammad Abu Amra Hassan Abdelfattah Islaih (targeted with bullets and prevented from coverage), detaining seven female/male journalists and preventing them from crossing the military checkpoint, central Hebron, with their equipment after they covered two sit-ins organized in the old city of Hebron.

“WhatsApp” Violations:

During November, the administration of “WhatsApp”, which belongs to Facebook Company, blocked no less than 23 accounts of Palestinian journalists in Gaza Strip and West Bank, without stating specific reasons behind the blocking. “WhatsApp” only sent messages calling them “to contact the Support Team for assistance”. In some cases, it was generally pointed out that the blocking was related to "breaching the general standards of using the application" or "breaching the terms of the company/application, and based on complaints from the application partners”. The blocks concentrated on Palestinian journalists working in Gaza Strip, and came four days after an armed confrontation between the Palestinian resistance factions and the Israeli occupation army, during which 16 Palestinians were killed in the Israeli shelling that targeted Gaza Strip. The Palestinian journalists used to use “WhatsApp” as a means of exchanging news among them and communicating with the media agencies they work for.

The blocking campaign carried out by "WhatsApp" came in the context of campaigns of blocking and closure carried out by "Facebook" over the past months, which included hundreds of pages belonging to Palestinian journalists as well as hundreds of citizens, for allegedly publishing content violating the standards of "Facebook" with which the Israeli occupation authorities have concluded understandings in order to remove what Israel considers "incitement" or "hatred" or "terrorism" content, which seems to have extended to include the application of WhatsApp, widely used by media professionals and the general Palestinian public.

Details of Violations:

(1st Nov.) The cameraman, journalist Abelraheem Mohammad Al-Khateeb, was injured by a rubber bullet while he was covering the events of the return march in Gaza, east of Rafah.

According to the investigations of MADA researcher, Abdelraheem Mohammad Al-Khateeb (42 years old), a freelancer working for Anatolia Agency, has arrived at around 4:00PM, on Friday, corresponding 1st Nov. 2019, to the border area, east of Rafah, to cover the events of the peaceful return march organized there every Friday. He was wearing the Press helmet and vest and carrying a camera.

Upon his arrival, at a distance of 300 meters away from the separation fence, on the other side of which the Israeli soldiers are deployed, he started taking some photos of the ongoing events taking place between the Palestinians and the Occupation Soldiers close to the fence. At around 4:30PM, he approached the separation fence, stopped at a distance of 200 meters away, when the occupation soldiers heavily fired rubber bullets at him and everyone in the place. He had to retreat, and in the meantime, he was injured by three rubber bullets, one of which hit his back (the vest) while the other hit the helmet he was wearing. The third bullet injured his upper right arm, causing him severe pain. The paramedics who were in the area approached and took him in an ambulance to the medical point 700 meters away from the separation fence, where he received the necessary first aid. His arm was dressed, and after half an hour, he left the field medical point and returned home.

(1st Nov.)The journalist Hani Al-Shaer was injured by a rubber bullet fired at him by the occupation soldiers while they were covering the events of the peaceful return march in Khuza’a, east of Khan Younes.

According to the investigations of MADA researcher, Hani Hammad Al-Shaer (30 years old), a freelance journalist, has arrived on the afternoon of Friday, corresponding 1st Nov. 2019, to Khuza’a, to cover the events of the peaceful return march organized every Friday. At around 1:45PM, upon his arrival, he stood next to a number of Red Crescent Volunteers at a distance of 100 meters away from the separation fence on the other side of which the Israeli soldiers were deployed. A group of Palestinian demonstrators gathered near the fence and started throwing stones at the soldiers on the other side of the fence, while the soldiers were firing rubber bullets and gas bombs at them. At around 1:50PM, the soldiers fired a rubber bullet near the journalist Al-Shaer and the Red Crescent volunteers, and five minutes later, another rubber bullet was fired at them (did not injure any of them). They had to retreat few meters, and at around 2:00PM, the soldiers fired a third bullet which injured the journalist Hani Al-Shaer in his back (lower neck), while the Red Crescent volunteers were moving away from the site. The volunteers who were next to Al-Shaer tried to givehis the first aid but the injury was minor and did not require an intervention. He moved back about 200 meters and continued his work.

(5th Nov.) The journalist Moath Amarneh was injured by a gunshot in his left eye fired at him by the occupation soldiers while he was covering a peaceful sit-in in Souref, in the west of Hebron.

According to the investigations of MADA researcher at around 11:00AM, on Friday, corresponding 15th Nov. 2019, dozens of residents of Souref, western Hebron, have organized a peaceful sit-in in the western area of the town, to denounce the decision of the occupation authorities of confiscating hundreds of acres of their lands for purposes serving the Apartheid Wall intended to be constructed to the west of town. The demonstrators have performed Friday prayer there when several Israeli military vehicles arrived to the location and the Israeli border police officers were deployed in the area among the demonstrators. They started firing sound and gas bombs randomly at the demonstrators and journalist staffs in the area, which resulted in the injury of a number of citizens with suffocation. The journalists who arrived to cover the protest had to move away as a result of the tear gas. In the meantime, at around 12:40PM, a number of young men gathered near the journalist staff and started throwing stones at the Israeli Border Police, and the soldiers started firing at them rubber-coated steel bullets while on of the police officers fired a gunshot from his location, at a distance of 80 meters away, which injured one of the young men and at the same moment, another person’s voice was loud screaming, who turned out to be the journalist Moath Ibrahim Attiya Al-Amarneh (30 years old) who works as a cameraman for “Sanad” Agency (a Palestinian agency broadcasting from the UK) and G Media for Media Services.

Moath started asking for help from his colleagues near him, sat on the ground, and his eye was bleeding. His two colleagues: Raed Al-Shareef, Al-Ghad Al-Arabi TV reporter, and Mamoun Wazwaz, the Chinese Agency cameraman, grabbed him and took him to one of the journalists’ vehicles. In the meantime, two of the Israeli Guard Police officers followed them, one of whom was carrying a small camera in his hand and filming Moath, addressing him in Hebrew: “you are not a journalist, you’re just dressed like one, you were injured by a stone and no one has fired gunshots at you”. This irritated his colleagues who yelled at the police officer to move away so they can take him to the ambulance. Moath was taken to Souref from which he was taken by an ambulance of the Palestinian Red Crescent to Al-Ahli Hospital in Hebron. Having done initial tests and examinations, it was decided to transfer him to Arab Society Hospital in Bethlehem.

At around 3:00AM, at dawn, on Saturday, corresponding 15th Nov. 2019, Moath was taken to Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem. On 20th Nov. 2019, the journalist Moath Amarneh underwent three surgeries, where his (injured) left eye was removed and he completely lost sight in this eye, while a fragment of the gunshot settled in his eye cavity and the doctors did not manage to take it out for fear of causing him severe brain hemorrhage that may lead to his death. It was also found that there were two fractures in the bones of his left eyelid. The doctors informed Amarneh that he cannot undergo another surgery at the present time to take out the fragment and he will be updated later if his life would be at risk in case the fragment remained in its place.

(7th Nov.) The freelance photojournalist, Bader Sulaiman Al-Najjadi (37 years old) was injured by rubber bullet while he was covering the events in eastern of Rafah.

According to the investigations of MADA researcher, Bader Sulaiman Al-Najjadi (37 years old), a freelance photojournalist has arrived at around 3:00PM on Friday, 7th Nov. 2019, eastern Rafah, to cover the events of the weekly peaceful return march organized near the separation fence. He was wearing the vest marked Press with his cell phone in his hand. He was 100 meters away from the separation fence and started filming video clips of the events with his cell phone. At around 3:30PM, the soldiers stationed on the other side of the separation fence fired rubber bullets heavily at the demonstrators, which resulted in the injury of a demonstrator by a rubber bullet in his head. The cameraman Bader Al-Najjadi approached the injured young man to film him, and upon reaching him, Al-Najjadi was injured by a rubber bullet in his right hand palm which is why his cell phone with which he was filming fell. The paramedics in the area took him to an ambulance which transferred him to the medical point established 700 meters away from the separation fence, where he received the necessary treatment. Ten minutes later, the doctors decided to transfer him to Abu Yousef Al-Najjar Hospital, where he arrived at around 4:30PM. He was imaged, and the image showed minor fracture in the palm of his hand. The doctors gave him pain killers, the injury was dressed, and then he was discharged to his house at around 5:30PM.

(11th Nov.) The Israeli occupation soldiers detained the journalist Majdi Mohammad Ishtayya at Za’tara Military Checkpoint, established southern Nablus. They assaulted him because he refused to give them his personal cell phone number.

According to the investigations of MADA researcher, Majdi Mohammad Sulaiman Ishtayya (37 years old), a cameraman for the American news agency (Associated Press AP), noticed on his way back from Hebron to his house located in Nablus, at 7:00PM, on Monday, corresponding 11th Nov. 2019, the Israeli military checkpoint, southern Nablus, known as “Za’tara Checkpoint”. Three soldiers (two male soldiers and one female soldier) were standing at the mentioned checkpoint. The soldiers stopped Ishtayya, one of the soldiers approached him and asked for his personal identity card, which he indeed gave. The soldier took the identity card to be checked, and after three minutes, the soldier came back and asked the journalist Majdi for his personal cell phone number, but Majdi refused to give it.

The soldier told Majdi that he will be detained if he does not give his personal phone number, but Majdi insisted not to give it and told the soldier that he has not right to take his cell phone number. The soldier asked him to park his vehicle on the side road, seized his keys, and in the meantime, Majdi informed his work office and some of his colleagues that he was detained. After fifteen minutes, the soldier came back to Majdi and seized his cell phone. After ten minutes of seizing his cell phone, the soldier returned to ask Majdi again to tell him his cell phone number but the latter refused. After 20 minutes, the soldier took the journalist Majdi to an area behind the checkpoint and cement blocks (where there are no cameras) grabbed Majdi’s hand to the back and pushed him had, assaulted and kicked him before detaining him in a semi-small room (a cement block located there) along with the female soldier. He searched him thoroughly, and went to search the vehicle. When he saw inside the vehicle the filming equipment (the vest, helmet, and camera), the soldier made a phone call with a party and then asked Majdi to show his press card, which when he saw, released Majdi, almost half an hour after he was detained.

(11th Nov.) Seven journalists were suffocated due to the tear gas bombs fired at them directly and deliberately while they were covering a demonstration at the northern entrance of Al-Bireh, on the occasion of the 15th anniversary of Yasser Arafat’s martyrdom. 

According to the investigations of MADA researcher, at around 2:30PM, on Monday, corresponding 11th Nov. 2019, a march was launched in front of the tomb of the late Yasser Arafat, in Al-Bireh. Around 150 persons were there and went towards the northern entrance of Al-Bireh (3 kilometers away from Arafat’s tomb) where an Israeli military checkpoint is located. When the march approached the checkpoint at around 3:10PM, the occupation soldiers started firing tear gas bombs heavily at the demonstrators which forced them to retreat (City Inn Hotel square and the fuels station 250 meters away from the checkpoint). After 15 minutes, clashes erupted and groups of young men started throwing stones at the army patrols.

At around 4:00PM, one of the occupation army officers approached the journalists and threatened them through the speaker to leave the area otherwise they will be shot by tear gas bombs claiming that they are hindering the army even though no one else was with the journalists where they were gathering. After fifteen minutes of threatening them, the occupation soldiers fired dozens of tear gas bombs directly at the journalists from a launched installed on the military jeep. This resulted in the injury of several of them with severe suffocation, including: the cameraman of Anatolia Agency Hisham Kamel Abu Shaqra, the cameraman of the French News Agency Abbas Al-Momani, the cameraman of Reuters Mohammad Ali Turkman, the freelance photographer Ramez Odeh, the cameraman of Al-Ayyam Newspaper Ahmad Waleed Al-Arouri (27 years old), the freelance photographer Hamza Amjad Afana (19 years old), who fainted and was taken by a Red Crescent ambulance which was 100 meters away where he received first aid until he was awake. This is in addition to the cameraman of Al-Arabiya TV and Quds News, Mutasem Saqf Al-Hait.

(15th Nov.) The Administration of WhatsApp, belonging to Facebook, has blocked no less than 23 accounts belonging to Palestinian journalists in Gaza Strip and the West Bank, without stating the causes or justifications of doing so and it only sent them messages calling them “to contact the support team for assistance". In some cases, it was generally pointed out that the blocking was related to "breaching the general standards of using the application" or "breaching the terms of the company/application, and based on complaints from the application partners”.

According to the investigations of MADA researcher, the blocks targeted journalists who work in Gaza Strip. These blocks started four days after the armed aggression and confrontation between the Palestinian Resistance Factions and the Israeli Occupation Army in which 16 Palestinians were murdered due to the Israeli shelling targeting Gaza Strip. It is worth noting that the Palestinian journalists used to use WhatsApp as a means of exchanging news among them and with the media agencies they work for. Some of the journalists whose accounts have been blocked are: Hazem Imad Nasser, the cameraman of An-Najah TV in the West Bank, the writer and journalist Shadi Abu Sabha from Gaza, Basel Al-Qadi, news editor and an anchorman of “Sawt Al-Quds” Radio in Gaza, the anchorman of Al-Aqsa Radio Mohammad Mishmesh, Yousef Abu Mughaiseb working for the Palestinian Broadcasting Corporation in Gaza, Al-Aqsa Radio reporter in Gaza, Iyad Abu Jamal, “Palestine Today” TV cameraman in Gaza Mohammad Tawfiq, the cameraman of Martyrs and Prisoners Commission and the Palestinian Journalists Network in Gaza, Maali Abu Samra, the staff member of Social Media-Media Youth Center, Hamza Radwan, programs producer of Al-Aqsa TV in Gaza Mohammad Nashbat, the journalists Omar Farawnah, Wael Abu Omar, Saed Al-Taweel, and Hassan Al-Sa’afeen, the cameraman of the French News Agency Tamer Ziada, the cameraman Mohammad Al-Khateeb (all from Gaza Strip), the freelance journalist of UltraPalestine, Mujahed Mufleh from Ramallah, the journalist of Sanad News Agency Yousef Faqeeh, the freelance journalist Sami Al-Saei from Tulkarem, the journalist and translator Rami Al-Salhi from Jerusalem, ps.24 Agency reporter in Gaza Moath Miqdad, the journalists Azhar Hamooda and Kari Thabet, both from Gaza.

The journalist Basel Al-Qadi, the editor and anchorman of “Sawt Al-Quds” Radio in Gaza Strip, stated that he received a message on WhatsApp saying “this number-that is Basel’s phone number-has been blocked from using WhatsApp. Kindly contact the support team for assistance” even though Basel, like other journalists, uses WhatsApp to exchange news and events in Gaza Strip with his colleagues and other authorities he works with. On the other hand, the cameraman of An-Najah TV in the West Bank, Hazem Imad Nasser, received a message on WhatsApp that his account has been closed claiming that “he breaches the general standards of the application”. As to the writer, the journalist Shadi Abu Sabha, from Gaza Strip, he received a message from WhatsApp management with the same content. He contacted the support team asking the reason behind blocking his account. Abu Sabha was informed that his account was blocked for “breaching the company’s conditions, based on a complaint from the application partners”. The journalist retrieved his account in few days. The freelance journalist, Saed Al-Taweel, was blocked on WhatsApp for the fourth time this year. It should be noted that 3 phone numbers he used to use previously were also blocked once and for all. The journalist Al-Taweel uses the WhatsApp for news groups.

(17th Nov.) On the morning of Saturday, November 2, the journalist Ahmad Hussein Ahmad Al-Safadi, (47 years old), from Al-Sa’deya block, in the old city of Jerusalem, received a phone call from the Israeli occupation police, summoning him to sign papers he did not even understand their nature. Al-Safadi told them that he was busy and cannot review the papers. On the same day, Al-Safadi went to Al-Quds University, in Abu Deis, where a ceremony was taking place to reform “the Jerusalemites Students Union”. Then he went back to Jerusalem, arrived Salah Al-Deen street (one of the main streets in Jerusalem) at around 2:00PM, to take part in the meeting of “Jerusalem District Electricity Company” in his capacity as a member of the National Committee of supporting Jerusalem District Electricity Company. At around 3:00PM, the meeting was over, Al-Safadi went to cover sit-in organized in solidarity with prisoner Hiba Allabadi and the prisoners on food strike which was taking place at Salah Al-Deen Street at the time, for Safad Media, the agency he works for.

While Al-Safadi was filming the sit-in, he was arrested by some police officers who took him to Salah Al-Deen Police Center, where Al-Safadi was placed in the room allocated for the arrested referred to as “Al-Umtannah” starting from 4:30PM until 12:00 midnight. When the police officer asked him to speak in Hebrew, he answered that he wants a translator, which prolonged his waiting period another hour and a half. When they started questioning him at around 1:30AM, at dawn, on the following day (Sunday – 3rd Nov. 2019), the first question was “Why were you arrested?”. Al-Safadi replied that “this question should be asked to the doer, not me”. However, the question was repeated again, and he was asked about the content of chants which were echoed by the demonstrators in the sit-in he was covering for Safad Media. He replied that he is a journalist and he was filming an event and did not pay attention to the chants. Then he showed the officer his international press card. However, the investigator referred to another sit-in in solidarity organized in the previous week in the same location, and indicated that he was “Wanted” for a while. After three hours and a half, at 4:30, at dawn, on Sunday, 3rd Nov. 2019, the investigation was over and Al-Safadi was given the choice either to appear before the court or sign a non-paid bail of 5000 NIS, and sign on a decision of expelling him from Salah Al-Deen Street for 15 days. Al-Safadi chose to sign the bail and being expelled from Salah Al-Deen street, provided he can go back home to his family and children.

It should be noted that Al-Safadi was arrested and detained more than 20 times, from his house and the street. In some cases, he was detained for hours, in others for days, while once for an entire week.

(17th Nov.) The Israeli Occupation forces have suppressed a peaceful sit-in organized by the journalists in Bethlehem in solidarity with their colleague Moath Amarneh who lost sight by a bullet fired at him by one of the occupation soldiers.

According to the investigations of MADA researcher, dozens of journalists and activists, have organized at around 11:00AM, on Sunday, corresponding 17th Nov. 2019, a sit-in in solidarity with the journalist Moath Attiya Amarneh (30 years old), who has lost his left eye after he was targeted by a gunshot by the Israeli Guard Police in Souref, northwest Hebron, while he was covering a protest against settlement. As soon as the demonstrators arrived to the Fuel Station, 30 meters away from the military tower, at Bethlehem northern entrance known as (Rachel’s Tomb), one of the soldiers who was inside the military tower cursed them while a number of Israeli Guard Police officers threw sound and gas bombs at the journalists from a hole in the gate installed to the wall. This continued for few minutes, and once the force officers stopped, the journalists gathered near the gate, while the Chairman of the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate was delivering a speech, the Guard Police officers opened the gate and started throwing sound and gas bombs randomly and heavily at the journalists, they chased them and assaulted them with hands. This resulted in the injury of a number of journalists with suffocation.

One of the force officers has assaulted the journalist Saffiya Qawwar, Baladna Radio reporter, and seized her camera (which was given back to her on the same day). The force officers, with the support of other soldiers inside the military tower, continued to fire bombs directly at the journalists which resulted in the injury of: journalist Sari Abdelghaffar Jaradat (34 years old) by a gas bomb in his left arm, the journalist Mohammad Allaham working for MAAN Network, the chairman of the Freedoms Committee at the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate, who suffered cramping due to the suffocating gas, in addition to a fracture in the Metatarsal bones as a result of injury by a sound bomb. The journalist Munjed Jado, the Director of BNN, was injured by a gas bomb in the head, and the journalist Ali Ismail Al-Abed (30 years old), the reporter of Al-Hurriya News Network, was injured by a gas bomb in his left leg, the journalist Raed Al-Shareef, Al-Ghad Al-Arabi TV reporter, who was injured by a gas bomb in his right leg, the journalist Alaa Al-Deen Mohammad Al-Abed, Palestine TV reporter and Director of Baladna Radio, who was injured by a sound bomb fragment in his foot, the journalist Thaer Al-Gakhouri (29 years old) who was injured by a sound bomb in his left leg, the freelance journalist Omar Al-Amour, who was injured by a gas bomb in his right leg. The injured journalists were transferred to Al-Hussein Hospital in Bethlehem for treatment.

In the meantime, the Israeli soldiers attacked two of the journalists, namely: Hamad Ali Taqatqa, the cameraman of Palestine News Network, while he was filming what was taking place near the gate, and they arrested him after beating him with their fists on his head and back. He was taken inside the military tower, where his press equipment were seized (but they were returned back to him later). They forced him to take off his shirt for search purposes, he was intimidated and threatened to be arrested. They also assaulted the journalist Ahmad Mohammad Tanouh (30 years old), who works for MAAN Agency, and presents programs on Bethlehem Radio 2000, while he was at the fuel station close to the tower. They assaulted him and severely beaten him all around his body. They pushed him several times against the wall which resulted in a wound in his forehead (near the right eye), and another wound in his left leg. He was also injured with bruises in the back and neck, and they transferred him inside the military tower where the journalists Tanouh and Taqatqa were questioned about the reason they were there, and their press work. The Israeli military force officers in the meantime continued throwing gas and sound bombs randomly and heavily, without any justifications, at the journalists. This resulted in the injury of several journalists with suffocation, and they were treated in the field. At around 1:00PM, the journalist Tanouh was released while the journalist Taqatqa was released one hour after him, at 2:00PM.

(20th Nov.) The Israeli Occupation Authorities have closed the (official) Palestine TV office in Jerusalem, for six months after raiding the headquarters of Al-Arz Co. for media services, hosting the TV Office within its office. Also, the Israeli occupation summoned a number of staff members of the TV and questioned them.

According to the investigations of MADA researcher, a force of the Israeli occupation intelligence and police, including more than 4 patrols, has raided, at 8:30AM, on 20th Nov. 2019, the headquarters of Al-Arz Co. for Media Services, located in Al-Sowanah block, in the occupied city of Jerusalem. The force contacted the Company Manager Ayman Hassan Ibrahim Abu Rmouz (29 years old), asking him to come to the office.

At around 9:00AM, Abu Rmouz arrived along with the photojournalist Jihad Alaa Al-Deen Al-Mohtaseb (30 years old) to the Company headquarters, and found the occupation intelligence went up on the roof. The police allowed Abu Rmouz and Al-Mohtaseb to enter the offices where 7 of the occupation intelligence officers were present, on top, office “Nidaf” while two of the police officers were on the roof of the building. The photographer Jihad Al-Mohtaseb tried to film and document the raid, but one of the intelligence officers prevented him and seized his identity card. 

At around 9:30, the intelligence officer “Nidaf” started a field investigation with the Company Manager Ayman Abu Rmouz (inside the office). He asked abu Rmouz about the parties the company provides media services to, and about the service of live broadcast. Abu Rmouz replied that the company provides media services to several TVs and institutions including “Al-Ghad”, “Al-Mayaden”, and “Palestine TV”. The officer Nidaf said that Palestine TV is prohibited to work in this office or even inside Jerusalem as a whole for six months, under a decision by the Israeli Minister of Interior, Jilad Ardan. Also, the Israeli officer placed a copy of the decision on the doors of two offices belonging to Palestine TV (one of which is the door of the Programs Department while the other for the news) within the company offices. Then the Intelligence Services seized a laptop of the Programs Department of Palestine TV, and another personal laptop for the photojournalist Ameer Abed Rabo, who works there, in addition to three external memory and storage devices and a set of documents. All of the office equipment was registered and the Director of Al-Arz Co. for Media Services Ayman Abu Rmouz was threatened no to open the two offices or take out any of the equipment inside the closed offices.

The questioning of Abu Rmouz lasted for half an hour (until 10:00AM), and until that moment, the occupation police and intelligence kept outside the building the company staff members: Firas Al-Hindawi, Mohammad Asho, Ahmad Al-Shareef, the journalist Tamer Obaidat, the political analyst Mohammad Jadallah and Sulaiman Shqeirat (who were supposed to record a TV episode for Al-Ghad TV inside the office at 10:00) and prevented them from coming in. in the meantime, the occupation intelligence contacted Nizar Younes, the Director General of Arz Company and summoned him to Al-Mascobiyya Investigation Center, western Jerusalem. They informed him that Ayman Abu Rmouz will be arrested until he comes and transferred Abu Rmouz via the police vehicle to Al-Mascobiyya Center.

While the police and intelligence officers were leaving the headquarters, Palestine TV reporter in Jerusalem, Christine Khaled Waleed Al-Rinawi (30 years old) arrived in her vehicles and one of the occupation intelligence officers gave her the summoning order to go to the investigations center on the same day, at 11:00AM after he found that she works for Palestine TV. Indeed, Christine Al-Rinawi went to Al-Macobiyya Investigation Center, and waited until 3:00PM when an officer called Saleem started questioning her and informed her that being there “prejudices the Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem”. The investigation with the journalist Christine was concluded with the manner and method she applies to cover the news of Jerusalem, who is the parry in charge of her, from where she received her salary, and why she uses specific terminology rather than others (such as raiding Al-Aqsa and profaning its squares). Christine replied that she uses this terminology based on the international recognition of the situation of Jerusalem and its sacred status as the Dung Gate is closed by the Occupation and its keys is seized, and that any access to Al-Aqsa is a raid. As to her salary, she said that she is a staff member of Palestine TV and she received her salary through the Arab Bank. The intelligence officer asked Christine to sign on her statement and image from different sides and threatened her implicitly “stamp your finger print… here in Israel we stamp… while the Authority cuts hands”.

The investigation with Christine ended at 4:45PM. At the same time, Ayman Abu Rmouz was in the investigation room, and he was questioned about Al-Arz Co. contracting with Palestine TV and what kind of services exactly do they offer, and whether the company intervenes in the contents of materials and programs of Palestine TV or its news releases. Abu Rmouz denied and informed them that the company services “are only technical and have nothing to do with contents”. Abu Rmouz was released at the same time Christine Al-Rinawi was released, while Nizar Raji Younes (49 years old) was still in another investigation room. His questioning started at 3:00PM and lasted until 6:00PM. He was questioned about the media services offered to Palestine TV and about the presented of “Sabah Al-Khair ya Quds” program, the journalist Dana Abu Shamsiya, and who selects the contents of the program episodes and the guests. He was told to sign an undertaking of an amount of 120,000 NIS in the event he offers other media services to Palestine TV.

On Sunday 24th Nov. 2019, Ayman Abu Rmouz received a phone call from the Israeli occupation intelligence. He was summoned again to Al-Mascobiyya Investigation Center on Monday 25th Nov. 2019, at 12:00PM. Indeed, on the said schedule, he went to be questioned about the episode of “Sabah Al-Khair ya Quds” program where he was in and it was broadcasted through Palestine TV, and whether he had offered any media services to Palestine TV, which he denied. He was also asked about the program and whether it implies anti-Zionism inciting materials, but he replied: “I do not know what inciting exactly mean, and I am not aware of the press matters. I am only a photographer and I get the technical matters”.  Then implicit threatening messages were sent to the program staff through the Director of Al-Arz Co. Ayman Abu Rmouz that the Israeli occupation intelligence know everything and can arrest the staff of Palestine TV under the charge of incitement. At around 1:00PM, Abu Rmouz was released (at 1:00PM) without any conditions or restrictions.

(21st Nov.) The occupation soldiers detained the Media Department staff member at the Colonization & Wall Resistance Commission, Mohammad Hamdan, at Za’tara military checkpoint, southern Nablus, and seized his cell phone, his camera memory card and questioned him in the field.

According to the investigations of MADA field researcher, Mohammad Hamdan (29 years old)was stopped at around 5:30PM, on 21st Nov. 2019, in his vehicle marked Press while he was going from Ramallah to Jenin by the Israeli occupation soldiers at Za’tara military checkpoint, southern Nablus. He gave them his personal identity card when one of the soldiers asked for it and informed them that he is a journalist and showed them his press card. They ordered him to park on the side road and started asking him questions” where are you coming from? Where are you going? What do you do? He answered all of the questions and after they checked his ID with the device they carry with them, they told him that he will remain detained this night. When he recognized they were serious, he posted on his Facebook (using his cell phone) and one of the soldiers saw him using the phone, attacked him and took the phone, and moved away from Mohammad who was surrounded by three other soldiers. Two of whom were pointing their weapons directly at him, while the third asked him “what are you doing?”.

In the meantime, they noticed the press protection equipment with him while they searched the vehicle and asked him why he carries such equipment with him in his vehicle. Moments later, the soldier who took his cell phone came back and addressed him: “you want to act like the strong tough guys, who sets fire to the tires and who does all such things in streets?” but Mohammad replied that he does not know what the soldier was talking about. The soldier then referred to one of the videos filmed by Mohammad and posted on his Facebook page. He asked him about the people in the video, but he answered that he did not know any of them and that he is only a journalist who documents and covers the events. The soldiers threatened him that if he did not given the names of the people in the video, the will arrest him, but he reaffirmed that he only does his job and documents events. One of them told him that they have all of the materials he published and then asked him where his camera with “uncharged” battery was. The soldier pushed and yelled at him to force him to open the camera even though he said its battery was dead. The soldier called another soldier and they spoke to one another in Hebrew, which Mohammad did not understand. After that, the soldier asked him for the camera's memory card, seized it and so his cell phone and released him at about 6:20PM, when one of them addressed him “you should take care of yourself, and whenever we want you, we know how to bring you”.

(25th Nov.) The Israeli soldiers positioned at the so-called Abu Al-Rish checkpoint in the Old City of Hebron prevented a group of journalists from passing through with their press equipment after they had covered two events inside the Old City, forcing some of the journalists to pass their equipment in a taxi and go back across a road that takes an hour.

According to the investigations of MADA researcher, the Israeli occupation soldiers, on 25th Nov. 2019 prevented the journalists: Ali Al-Juba, An-Najah TV Office Director, the TV cameraman Tareq Khamaisa, the TV reporter, Nagham Jadallah, the freelance photographer Musab Shawer, Alam Radio reporter, Sameh Al-Titi, the Radio cameraman Ahmad Amro, and the freelance journalist Amer Al-Shaloudi, from leaving Al-Sahla area in the old city of Hebron, across Abu Al-Rish Checkpoint located there after they finished filming and covering the sit-in organized in solidarity with the journalist Moath Amarneh who lost his left eye by a bullet fired at him by an Israeli soldier, and a sit-in to fight against violence against women that was taking place there as well. The soldiers refused to pass the cameras across the checkpoint, which forced the three of them (Tareq, Nagham and Ahmad Amro) to take a taxi and pass the cameras and equipment through a very long road going through southern Hebron and takes about an hour of time to arrive. While the rest of the journalists passed the military checkpoint (without equipment) to get to their vehicles parked on the other side of the army’s checkpoint as the Palestinian’s access (including journalists and others) were prevented to pass the checkpoint in their vehicles to the old city of Hebron, and the surrounding of the Cave of the Patriarchs. When the four journalists crossed the military checkpoint and arrived Al-Zaatari building, which was under the control of the Israeli soldiers, a number of soldiers stopped them, checked their cards and detained them for about half an hour before allowing them to continue their way[1].

(25th Nov.) The Israeli soldiers opened fire on the journalists as they were preparing a report about the bird hunters near the separation fence east of Khan Younis in Gaza Strip which prevented them from completing their work not to mention endangering their lives.

According to the investigations of MADA researcher, the journalist Ashraf Mohammad Abu Amrah (33 years old), from Deir Al-Albalah, a freelance photographer, has arrived along with his colleague, the freelance journalist Hassan Abdelfattah Islaih (32 years old) from Khan Younes, at around 9:30AM, on Sunday, 25th November to Absan area, eastern Kahn Younes, to prepare a press story on the migratory birds crossing Palestine, carrying two cameras and a bag with some lenses and a laptop. After around an hour upon their arrival and starting their work (at around 10:30), while they were filming the birds hunters, 150-250 meters away from the separation fence on the other side of which the Israeli soldiers were deployed, the journalist Abu Omar, noticed two Israeli soldiers getting out of a military jeep within the security fence, and they had a tractor on the other side of the fence. The soldiers started firing live bullets intermittently at them for almost two minutes, which caused the two journalists Abu Amrah and Islaih to lie down on the ground for 5 minutes and crawled for ten meters and then ran quickly away from the site. This was also done by bird hunters and farmers who were present in the area, who decided to move away to safe places until they reached more than 300 meters away from the separation fence, leaving behind the cameras and photography equipment, and they could not bring them, unless with the help of a farmer who returned there later and brought along the equipment. They left the area nearly at 11:00AM in the morning unharmed.

(26th Nov.) The cameraman, Abdel-Majeed Mohammad Adwan, was wounded by a rubber-coated steel bullet in the foot fired at him by the occupation soldiers while he was covering events in Tulkarem.

According to the investigations of MADA field researcher, Abdelmajeed Mohammad Abdelmajeed Adwas (30 years old), from Faroun, Tulkarem, a freelance journalist, went at around 1:30PM, on Tuesday, 26th Nov. 2019, to cover events that have taken place western Palestine Technical University – Kadoorie, in Tulkarem, in an area known as Jeshori Factories and Tesna Ouz gate western the City. He was the vest and helmet marked Press and carrying a “photo camera”. When he arrived, he stood on the side across the gate, 20 meters away from the youths who were throwing stones at the gate where the Israeli occupation soldiers were stationed (around 27 soldiers, and 4 vehicles). The soldiers were firing rubber bullet and gas bombs at the youths who were throwing stones. Almost one hour later, a rubber bullet injured a young man who was standing close to Adwan (3 meters away), which led Adwan to move away and change his location to a distance of 40 meters. In the meantime, 4 other journalists arrived the area to cover the events: Hazem Nasser and Khaled Budair from Al-Ghad TV, Fadi Yasine and Ihab Al-Damiri from Palestine TV, and upon their arrival, the soldiers fired a barrage of tear gas bombs at them which resulted in their suffocation.

Adwan immediately moved away to a hill close to the military gate where the soldiers were deployed to escape from the suffocating gas, but this did really help him, so he moved back next to his colleagues. The soldiers fired rubber bullet at him and it directly injured his left foot (from below). After walking few steps, he felt incapable of walking, so his colleague Fadi Yasine helped him, to reach the ambulance which was in the area. He received the necessary treatment and it was found that the bullet penetrated the shoes and injured his foot causing him wounds which were dressed. Then he left the area and went by himself to Thabet Thabet Governmental Hospital, where his foot was imaged, and he was given an anti-poisoning injection and then went home. But for days afterwards (until the time this report was prepared 30th No.) he kept going to the doctor for checkup as his foot was infected due to the injury.

(26th Nov.) Three journalists and a media student were injured by the Israeli Occupation army bullets while they were covering a demonstration which included clashes with stones, at the occupation military checkpoint at Al-Bireh/Ramallah entrance.

According to the investigations of MADA field researcher, a crow of citizens launched a demonstration from Al-Manara Square, central Ramallah, towards the Israeli military checkpoint as the northern entrance of Al-Bireh. At around 2:00PM, clashes erupted and dozens of youths started throwing stones at the occupation forces, while the soldiers were firing rubber bullets and gas bombs heavily at the demonstrators and the gathering of the journalists. This resulted in the injury of Watan Agency cameraman, Mohammad Turkman (22 years old) by a rubber bullet in his left leg. He received the field first aid from the Palestinian Red Crescent staff which was in the area. Half an hour later following Turkman’s injury, the freelance photographer Ramez Sameer Awad (26 years old) was injured by a gas bomb directly in the head while he was near Al-Huda station, away from the demonstrators and soldiers, along with another group of journalists, which resulted in wounds that had to be stitched noting that he was treated in the field inside an ambulance. At the same time, Palestine TV cameraman, Asef Ashraf Nofal (24 years old) was injured by a gas bomb in his left shoulder, and received the field first aid. He was transferred to Palestine Medical Complex, where it was found that the bomb caused him burns. He was also imaged just to make sure he did not have any fractures. This is in addition to the injury of the Media Student, Bara’a Mutea Arar (21 years old) by a sound bomb in her chest noting that the remaining journalists were wearing uniforms indicating their nature of work and were far away from the demonstrators. 

(26th Nov.) The journalist Mohammad Al-Azza was injured by a rubber bullet fired at him by the occupation soldiers while he was covering a demonstration taking place at the northern entrance of Bethlehem.

According to the investigations of MADA researcher, a demonstration was organized against the statement of the United States that the Israeli Settlement in the Palestinian Territories is “legitimate” and to protest against the death of prisoner Sami Abu Dayyak in the Israeli prisons. It took place at the northern entrance of Bethlehem where the occupation soldiers were stationed, on Tuesday afternoon, 26th Nov. 2019. Mohammad Waleed Mohammad Al-Azza (29 years old), the Media Unit official at Laje’ Center, went to cover the demonstration, in his press uniform, and when he arrived, 200 meters away from the Israeli occupation soldiers, it was 12:30PM, the occupation soldiers fired rubber bullet at him, which injured his head but did not cause any harm as he was wearing the helmet. It is worth noting that Mohammad Al-Azza then was standing in an exposed area with five of his colleagues.

(27th Nov.) The Internal Security Service in Gaza, summoned the journalist Tawfeq Abdelaziz Abu Jarad, detained and questioned him about his press work.

According to the investigations of MADA researcher, on Wednesday, 27th Nov. 2019, the freelance journalist and lecturer at the Media Section in Gaza University, a member of the Journalists Movement Office, Tawfeq Abdelaziz mohammad Abu Jarad (39 years old), received on Wednesday, 27th Nov. 2019, a phone call from someone who introduced himself as an officer of the Internal Security, Beit Lahia headquarters, northern Gaza Strip, and asked him to come on the following morning (Thursday, 28th November) to the Service headquarters. On the following day, the journalist Abu Jarad went to the Internal Security headquarters, and upon his arrival, they detained him in a cell, for half an hour, before taking him to the investigation room, where he was questioned for two hours, on the nature of his work at the Journalists Movement Office, the duties assigned to him, his Facebook posts, and claiming that they “incite against Hamas and its government in Gaza” in addition to the social visits to journalists, and contacting Ramallah. At around 10:00, the questioning was over and he was taken back to the cell. In the meantime, security officers were sent to the Abu Jarad’s house, they took a laptop, his personal cell phone, and seized them until the evening to be checked.

At around 2:00PM, he was taken back again to another investigation session which lasted for about an hour, and revolved around his relationship with the Egyptian media professionals. At around 5:00PM, after 9 hours of being detained and questioned, he was released.

(29th Nov.) The Israeli Occupation soldiers prevented the journalist Musab Abdelsamad Al-Tamimi from covering the clashes which erupted in Hebron City and seized his cell phone.

According to the investigations of MADA field researcher, dozens of youths gathered at Bab Al-Zawiya area, central Hebron, at around 3:00PM, on Friday, corresponding 29th Nov. 2019, and threw stones and empty bottles at the Israeli military checkpoint located in the entrance of the martyrs closed street, known as (Shoter) checkpoint or (56). A number of occupation soldiers came out and started firing sound and gas bombs heavily and randomly at the youths who were throwing stones. They chased them in Wadi Al-Tuffah area, while the youths continued throwing stones and the soldiers continued firing gunshots and rubber-coated steel bullets at them. At around 4:00PM, as journalist Musab Abdelsamad “Mohammad Hamed” Shawer Al-Tamimi (28 years old), Al-Hadath Newspaper reporter, was filming the soldiers who were firing gunshots at the youths, when one of the soldiers asked him to stop filming and forced him to retreat back and move away from the soldiers’ location. The journalist Musab tried to convince the soldier that he was only doing his job, but the soldier refused to listen to him. Musab started moving back until he stopped in front of one of the shops, and started filming what was happening using his cell phone. Two soldiers approached him, pulled his cell phone from his hands, and took it towards the military checkpoint (Shoter). Musab asked the soldiers to give him back his phone, but the latter refused and told that he cannot film there. Musab was still standing in front of the checkpoint, talking to the soldiers stationed them and asking them to give back his cell phone. The cell phone remained seized by the soldiers at 6:00PM, when one of the soldiers gave Musab back the cell phone and asked to leave.

 

 

 


[1] It is worth noting that the Israeli Occupation Army places checkpoints for searching in the old city and southern Hebron, with no more than 100 meters between one and another and they do not allow crossing or passing to any area unless after search, whether when it comes to citizens or journalists.

 

The photo by artist Thaer Fakhoury, explaining how Palestinian journalist Moath Amarneh was hit with a live bullet in the left eye by the Israeli occupation soldier while he was covering a peaceful sit-in in Surif, at the west of Hebron.