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“MADA”: 39 violations against media freedoms in Palestine during February, 31 of which committed by the Israeli occupation

Ramallah (03/03/2020) - February 2020 has witnessed a remarkable increase in the number of violations against media freedoms in Palestine compared to the previous month, January.

 The Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms “MADA” has documented a total of 39 violations during February, reflectingan increase by 12 violations, compared to the number of violations documented during January, which witnessed a total of 27 attacks.This increase is attributed to the rise in the number of violations, both Israeli and Palestinian.

The violations against media freedoms this month included the closure f Al-Hurriya Media Network page by Facebook Company, a network based in Hebron, claiming that it publishes materials that violate Facebook's general policy.

Israeli Violations:

The Israeli occupation forces and authorities committed a total of 31 violations against journalists and media freedoms in Palestine during February, most of which were direct, deliberate and serious, including the injury of 4 journalists by metal bullets and direct gas bombs fired at them while they were covering field events.Additionally, the arresting of two journalists and targeting no less than three TV staff members with direct gas bombs while they were live broadcasting to their channels by Israeli soldiers, as well as detaining three media staffs and preventing them from accessing some locations or completing the reportsthey were preparing in places that did not witness any events, without any justification.

The direct and deliberate targeting was very evident and clear in the two incidents. Targeting the cameraman MutasimSaqf Al-Hait when an Israeli officer approached him for no reason sprayed his face with pepper spray that was in his hand. This is in addition to the military bulldozer that attacked the gathering of demonstrators and journalists with large rocks pushed towards them at high speed, which resulted in the injury of Palestine TV cameraman Mohammad Inaya and smashing his camera. These two violations were documented with video clips.

The Israeli violations have affected the following:RajiAsfour and Abdullah Fawadla (suffocation), Sami Al-Saei (detention and questioning on the bridge on his way to and back from Jordan), AbdelmuhsenShalaldeh (metal bullet in the head), Mohammad Osama Melhem (arrested for 11 days after being assaulted), Mohammad Zaki Abu Ghaniya (metal bullet in the abdomen), Tareq Yousef Khaled Sarkaji (two metal bullets in the thigh), media student at Khadouri University IhabIssa Al-Alama (detained and his filmed material was removed), journalist FatenAref Abdullah Alwan and her coworker the cameraman Nidal Mohammad Ramadan Hassan (suffocated due to several gas bombs fired at them while they were broadcasting live from the field), Hafeth Abu Sabra (fainted after being targeted, and Roya TV cameraman WisamAbedrabu, with a barrage of gas bombs one of which injured him in the leg, and due to the bombs that fell next to them, they fainted), Mohammad JarerHamdan (rubber bullet in the shoulder), preventing two staffs of Palestine TV in separate incidents to access DeirNitham village to prepare a report and present the program, and detaining them noting that the first incident involved the TV reporter Hanin Al-Helo and the cameraman Mohammad Radi, while in the second incident, the staff included 13 members who were recording for an episode of “Today’sFile” program broadcasted at the TV: the program presenter, journalist Salam Al-Deek, the director SuhaibFuad, the preparer OsaidSbaih, the broadcast engineers IyadHadeeb and HishamMughannam, the cameramen OdayHarbeyat, Mohammad Al-Arouri and Ahmad Habiba, the lighting engineer Ahmad Al-Nashef, the sound engineer MutazShehada, the transportation personnel Mohammad Rawashda and Mohammad Radwan, the freelance cameraman Mahmoud Mutan (detained on his way back to his town at night), Palestine TV cameraman Mohammad Inayawhose injury caused him rupture and severe bruises as a result of the attack by the military bulldozer at the demonstrators and journalists with large rocks that it pushed at them at high speed in KufrQadoum, detaining “Al-Jazeera Live” staff (including Alaa Al-Rimawi and Mohammad ShukriAwad) under the rain and preventing them from proceeding their broadcast about settlement in Turmosaya, spraying pepper at the cameraman MutasemSaqf Al-Hait from a tube by an Israeli officer who approached him while he was covering field events, the injury of Hazem Emad Husni Nasser (gas bomb in the right thigh), Khaled Saleh Mahmoud Bdair (suffocated after being assualted along with his colleague Hazem with several gas bombs while they were interviewing one of the citizens), this happened again in similar circumstances with Palestine TV cameraman, LoayAbdelhafeethAref Al-Samhan and his colleague Ameer Shaheenwere attacked byIsraeli soldiers who fired several gas bombs at them while they were preparing a field report on a march protesting against settlement in the valleys.This resulted in the suffocation of Loay until he fell to the ground and was taken to the Turkish Hospital in Tubas for treatment, the arrest of journalist Mujahed Mufleh claiming that “he incites against the Israeli occupation army through the social media”.

Palestinian Violations:

February has witnessed a total of 7 Palestinian violations, one of which was committed in Gaza Strip and 6 by official security forces in the West Bank, which involved:

 Summoning the journalist LoayNahed Al-Ghoul, by the Internal Security Service in Gaza,questioning and detaining him for several hours. Summoning the cameramanNidal Al-Natsheh, by the Preventive Security in the West Bank, and questioning him. This is in addition to arresting the reporter of Sanad News Agency Mohammad Anwar Muna by the Preventive Security Service, and detaining him for 20 hours, summoning him to investigation after he was released, seizing his video camera, laptop, cell phone, from his house when he was arrested, raiding the house of Ayman Qawarek by the Preventive Security to arrest him but he was not at home, and summoning the journalist working for WAFA Agency Rami Samara by the Institutions Security Department.

Details of Violations:

(1st Feb.) The two cameramen, RajiAsfour and Abdullah Fawadleh, were suffocated by gas bombs by the Israeli occupation soldiers while they were covering clashes at the entrance of Al-Bireh.

According to the investigations of MADA researcher, Al-Jazeera TV cameraman, RajiOdehAsfour (38 years old), his assistant the cameraman Abdullah Fawadleh (42 years old), have arrived at 10:00AM in the morning of 1st Feb. 2020, at the entrance of Al-Bireh, where clashes were taking place between groups of Palestinians and the Israeli occupation soldiers. They began to take pictures of these events after they wore safety equipment while the occupation jeeps were firing heavy gas bombs towards the Palestinian demonstrators. Their coverage lasted for several hours, during which the occupation soldiers were harassing and screaming at journalists, demanding that they leave the area, and they targeted them more than once by firing sound bombs and rubber-coated metal bullets at them without causing any injuries.At 3:10PM, the situation calmed down and there were no clashes, but the two journalists, Asfour and Fawadleh, were surprised by the occupation jeeps firing heavy gas bombs automatically towards them, as they were unable to put in the masks to protect themselves from suffocation. As a result, they suffocated severely, and the soldiers’ heavy gas firing hindered the arrival of the staff of the Red Crescent Societywho came to take them. They were transported by the staffaway from the location, where they were provided with the necessary aid in the ambulance in the field.

 

(1st Feb.) The Israeli Intelligence Service detained the freelance journalist Sami Al-Saei twice on his way to and from Jordan, and questioned him.

According to the investigations of MADA researcher, the freelance journalist Sami Saed Abed Al-Saei (40 years old), also a field researcher at MADA, has arrived at around 9:30AM, on Saturday 1st Feb 2020, to the Israeli section at Al-Karamah crossing (bridge), on his way to Jordan, where he was detained for an hour without being questioned before letting him continue his way to Jordan. Two days later, (Monday 3rd Feb. 2020), on his way back from Jordan to the West Bank, the Israeli Intelligence seized the passport of the journalist Sami Al-Saei again about three hours, during which he was questioned by an Israeli intelligence officer, who asked him about his work, and the party he works for, to where and why he traveled to Jordan and where he stayed there and which places he visited. The interrogator said to him: “Sami, why were you imprisoned in 2016 and sentenced for 6 months?”Sami replied that this was on charges of “incitement”. The investigator told him: “so, you remember”. Sami replied yes, and then the officer threatened him by saying: “It is clear that you do not remember, because your file is ready for a new arrest - and I advise you, to take care of your wife and daughters, and do not write. If you stay like this, you will come back to us once again (we will arrest you)”. He took the name of Sami's page on Facebook, and then allowed him to continue his way back to the West Bank.

 

(2nd Feb.) The Journalist AbdelmuhsenShalaldehwas wounded by a rubber-coated metal bullet in the head, while he was covering a peaceful march in Ras Al-Jora area northern Hebron.

According to the investigations of “MADA” researcher, AbdelmuhsenTayseerAbdelmuhsenShalaldeh, (28 years old), a cameraman for “J Media” Office for media services, a resident of Sa'ir, north of Hebron, went to a peaceful march organized by Hebron University students, at 11:30AM on Sunday, 2nd Feb. 2020, in condemnation of the “Deal of the Century” announced by US President Trump, and the demonstrators went towards Ras Al-Jora area, northern Hebron.When the march arrived the area of Al-Shaarawy Mosque, large forces of the Israeli occupation army were deployed there, and the journalist Shalaldeh, who was wearing his complete press uniform, came with a number of his fellow journalists to the place where the soldiers were located, so a number of soldiers approached the journalists and began shouting at them in Arabic asking them to leave. One of the journalists spoke to the officer that they wanted to be in a place that keeps them safe from fire, and the officer replied “The last thing I care about is your safety” and forced the journalists, including Shalaldeh, to move away to a place where they were visible to the soldiers.Meanwhile, some of the protesters began throwing stones towards the soldiers, a number of whom passed by the journalists, and approached towards the demonstrators, and fired gas bombs randomly towards the stone-throwers. In the meantime, the journalist Shalaldeh placed his camera on the ground and wore a gas mask, so one of the soldiers from an estimated distance of 30 meters, fired a rubber-coated metal bullet in the direction of the journalist Shalaldeh, injuring the left side of his head.Shalaldeh fell immediately to the ground, and he suffered from seizure and loss of consciousness. The two journalists Sari Abdel GhaffarJaradat and Ahmad Halayqa, rushed and took him to a private vehicle all the way to Al-Ahli Hospital in the city. There he underwent medical examinations and x-rays, which showed the presence of a diastolic fracture in the skull, while the doctors stitched the place of the injury in his head with 5 stitches and placed him under observation for 24 hours.

The cameraman AbdelmuhsenShalaldeh intends to file an official complaint against the occupation army soldiers for being targeted and injured after he was threatened to be killed when he was summoned to investigation on 13th Jan. 2020 by the Israeli Occupation Intelligence.

 

(2nd Feb.) A force of the Israeli occupation army arrested the journalist Mohammad Osama Melhem for 11 days after assaulting him while he was covering a peaceful march in Halhoul protesting against the century deal.

According to MADA researcher, Mohammad Osama Melhem (30 years old), from Hebron, a reporter of “Al-Marah” Radio and works in the sound engineering section, went on Sunday 2nd Feb. 2020, to Halhoul to cover a peaceful march organized to protest against the deal of the century, through voice messages forwarded from the field to the radio station. After the march began, the soldiers started chasing the demonstrators, while the journalist MohammadMelhem was standing near the soldiers, as about six soldiers approached him, shouting at him, “Turn yourself in”. The journalist did not move from his position and told them he was a journalist, but the soldiers started beating him with their hands, legs, and rifles, on the face, neck, and back, which caused him bruises and broken teeth.Melhem took out his ID and press cards, and showed them to the soldiers and the officer. The officer took the card and arrested Melhem in the jeep. While he was being transferred to KiryatArba settlement located in the center of Hebron, to the intelligence center, Melhem was subjected to verbal abuse and humiliation by the soldiers, and when they arrived to KiryatArba Center, the journalist Melhem tried to persuade the investigator that he is a journalist, and that he holds a media certificate and is working to cover the events. He asked them to bring his papers from the houseand the radio office to prove his journalistic work but they did not pay attention to that as they transferred him to Etzion detention center. He did not see anyone in the first two days, as he was detained for two days. Journalist Mohammed Melhem was brought before the court on Tuesday 4th Feb. 2020, when the judge ordered his release, as there is no evidence that the journalist participated in "sabotage" as the soldiers claimed. However, the military prosecution requested that his detention be extended for 72 hours, which was repeated subsequently (the extension of his detention) at Ofer Prison Court until Thursday 13th Feb. 2020, when the Israeli military court decided to release the journalist on a bail of 5,000 NIS, and a trial session was set for him on Sunday (8th March 2020).

 

(3rd Feb.) Facebook Company closed Al-Hurriya Media Network claiming that it publishes material violating Facebook’s General Policy.

According to MADA researcher, Al-Hurriya Media Network,is an advertising socio-political media organization, that has a Facebook page created in 2019, followed and liked by 30,000 users. On 3rd Feb. 2020, the page received a warning from "Facebook" Company about a number of posts claiming they “violate the general policy of Facebook”. Soon later, the page was closed as the admins reported, knowing that during 2019, three pages belonging to Al-Hurriya Media Network were deleted by Facebook, claiming they violate the content policy.

 

(6th Feb.) The journalist and cameraman Mohammad Zaki Abu Ghania was injured by a metal bullet in the abdomen, which was fired by an Israeli soldier while he was covering a raid and clashes in the city of Bethlehem.

According to the investigations of MADA researcher, Mohammad Zaki Abu Ghania (47 years old), a cameraman of Reuters, from Bethlehem, along with a number of journalists, at around 7:30AM, in 6th Feb. 2020, went to cover a raid carried out by the occupation army to several areas (including the surrounding of Al-Arja Factory, the presidential headquarters and the Ducks Garden in Beit Jala). They first went to cover the raiding in the Garden area, and there the soldiers did not encounter them,thesoldiers tried to prevent the journalists from filming when they raided the house. However, the journalists refused to comply with their orders and told them that the area is not closed military zone to prevent them from filming, and after the raiding ended in that area they left. At 10:00AM in the morning that day, the journalists went to cover the raiding in the presidential headquarters, where clashes erupted. Groups of Palestinian demonstrators threw stones at the Israeli army’s patrols, while soldiers fired sound and gas bombs as well as rubber bullets. During their coverage of these events, the journalists were standing in a central area between the soldiers and the stone throwers who were separated by about 100 meters (about 50 meters away from each side). They wore the press uniforms and helmets on their heads. In the meantime, one of the soldiers fired a metal bullet towards Reuters cameraman Mohammed Abu Ghania, injuring him directly in the abdomen. Immediately, a Palestinian Red Crescent crew in the area rushed to provide him with first aid in the field.

The journalist Mohammatd believes that the soldier targeted him deliberately especially since he was wearing the press uniform which makes it obvious for the soldiers what was he doing.

 

(7th Feb.) The journalist Tareq Yousef Khaled Sarkaji (34 years old), was injured by two metal bullets in the thigh, fired at him by the occupation soldiers while he was covering events that erupted in Azoun town, eastern Qalqilya.

According to the investigations of MADA researcher, Tareq Yousef Khaled Sarkaji (34 years old), works for Jmedia Agency and Al-Jazeera Live, has arrived at 14:25PM, on Friday 7th Feb. 2020, to Azoun town, eastern Qalqilya, to cover the events taking place there after funeral procession of 1st Sergeant of PCP TareqBadwan who was shot by the occupation soldiers bullets. Sarkaji was wearing the helmet and vest marked Press. There was great number of demonstrators in the town, dozens of them went to the entrance of the town (Azoun), and began throwing stones at the Israeli occupation soldiers, while the occupation soldiers were firing gas and sound bombs, metal and live bullets, heavily towards the demonstrators, wounding a number of them with live bullets.At around 15:10PM, while he was covering these events at a distance of about hundred meters and on the other side of the corner, clashes was taking place in the first square area in the town (about 200 meters away from the center of the town).

As soon asSarkaji tried to approach the clashes not surrounded by demonstrators, he was injured by a rubber-coated metal bullet in the left thigh. Shortly after he was injured by another metal bullet in his left thigh as well, only few centimeters away from the place of the first injury. He realized that he was targeted by soldiers and retreated to the back next to the rest of his colleagues who were standing near the square directly behind the demonstrators. One hour later after his injury (almost at 16:15) Tariq left the site of the clashes without going to the Red Crescent’s ambulance. After he arrived the house and took a rest, Tariq began to feel severe pain in the place of the injury which was heavily reddened. So, he went to Rafidia Hospital at 7:30PM, and there he was provided with the necessary treatment as compresses were place on his injury to relieve the pain. The doctors recommended him to rest for three days.

 

(10th Feb.) The Internal Security Service summoned the journalist LoayNahed Al-Ghoul and questioned him for several hours about his work at the Palestinian Syndicate of Journalists.

According to the investigations of MADA researcher, LoayNahed Mohammad Al-Ghoul (40 years old), the Director of the Palestinian Syndicate of Journalists in Gaza Strip, has received on 12:00PM, on Sunday 9th Feb. 2020, while he was at his house located in Al-Shate’ Camp a notification from the Internal Security Service. His brother Saleh Al-Ghoul received the notification and it says that Loay must go to the headquarters of the Internal Security at 8:00AM, in the morning, on Monday 10th Feb. 2020 and to bring along his cell phone and identity card, without clarifying the reasons. Indeed, on the said schedule, Al-Ghoul went to the headquarters of the Internal Security where he first encountered a police officer who took his identity card, cell phone, and the money he had. He wrote down all of his information and after ten minutes, he took him to a place called “Bus/Al-bas” where individuals are detained. He stayed there for an hour and a half, along with another four persons.

At around 10:30AM, a police officer came and took Loay to the investigation room where an officer in civilian clothing was waiting. He started questioning him about his work, the central movement office of journalists, the activity of the Syndicate in Gaza and his political affiliation. The officer was recording the answers and the session lasted for an hour. The officer then took him to another room where he stayed for 40 minutes. At around 12:10PM, the policeman brought him back to the same officer who re-questioned him again about the journalists’ central movement office, who to contact in case of a certain event. The officer showed him photos of some of the office personnel (11) and asked him about each one of them. The session lasted for an hour and then he was taken back to the “Bus/Al-bas”. Twenty minutes later, he was taken back to the detention room and stayed until 2:30PM on the same day when he was released after his identity card, cell phone, and other belongings were given back to him.

 

(10th Feb.) The Israeli occupation soldiers detained a media student of Al-Khadouri University, named Ihab Al-Alami, for several hours, and deleted the material he filmed of the soldiers closing the entrance to Al-Aroub camp in the West Bank and preventing people from entering or leaving the camp.

According to the investigations of MADA researcher, the media student at Al-Khadoori University, IhabIssa Mahmoud Al-Alami (22 years old), from Beit Ummar, northern Hebron, was on his way home at around 11:00AM, on Monday 10th Feb. 2020, after he finished classes at the college. When he arrived the main gate of the college, the one leading to the settlement bypass road (60), across the western entrance of Arroub Camp, northern Hebron, Al-Alami saw two of the Israeli soldiers standing at the entrance of the mentioned camp which was closed by an iron gate, to prevent citizens to come in and out. Al-Alami approached to see what was happening, and he saw the soldiers preventing an old woman to pass through an opening next to the gate. Al-Alami called a number of his journalist friends and asked them to come to Arroub Camp to film the events. He opened his cell phone and started filming the soldiers’ harassments of citizens. While he was filming, one of the soldiers shouted at him, approached him and asked him to stop filming. Al-Alami inquired about the reason but the soldier refused to talk to him. He took the cell phone and asked Al-Alami to follow him to the entrance of the camp 20 meters away from the college’s entrance. When Al-Alami got closed to the soldiers, one of them asked him to sit on the ground. Half an hour later, Al-Alami started feeling pain in his back as he had a condition in the spine vertebras. He asked the soldier to let him stand up, but the soldier refused. Two minutes later, he allowed him to stand up for less than a minute and then asked him to sit on the ground again. In the meantime, Al-Alami was listening to the conversation of the soldiers in Hebrew, which he knew. One of them addressed the other “just release him, why do you even have him?” the other solider answered “let’s just have fun”. Soon after, the European Agency cameraman Abdelhafeeth Al-Hashalmoun, arrived and told the soldiers that Al-Alami is a journalist and asked them why were they detaining him but the soldiers refused to reply. At 1:00PM, Al-Alami’s parents arrived after they saw photos of their son through the social media. His father addressed the soldiers in Hebrew: “why didn’t you take him to a detention center if he is arrested, otherwise release him”. The soldier replied “I am sending him to your God” and asked the parents to stay away. Shortly thereafter, a military vehicle arrived at the checkpoint, and the soldier handed over Al-Alami’s cell phone to one of the soldiers inside the vehicle, and around 2:00PM, the soldier asked Al-Alami to leave the place, and gave him back his cell phone. After he left, Al-Alami found that they had opened his cell phone and deleted all the materials related to the soldiers and they also deleted the filmed material he made at the entrance of the camp.

 

(11th Feb.) Six journalists were severely suffocated and injured by rubber bullets while they were covering a demonstration organized at the entrance of Al-Bireh City.

According to the investigations of MADA researcher, at around 12:00PM, on Tuesday 11th Feb. 2020, a march was launched from the center of Ramallah in which 200 persons were involved, to condemn and protest against the “deal of the century”. The march headed towards Beit El Military Checkpoint, at Al-Bireh entrance, 4 kilometers away from the center of Ramallah. The demonstrators approached the “City Inn” square, 300-400 meters away from the checkpoint, and a number of journalists accompanied them in the march to cover it, while another number of journalists arrived later. Once the march arrived to “City Inn” square, several Israeli patrols near the military checkpoint fired a barrage of tear gas bombs and rubber bullets at the demonstrators, which resulted in the injury of two of them by rubber bullets and 8 with suffocation.

Some of the demonstrators started throwing stones at the army patrols that continued firing tear gas bombs and rubber bullets at the demonstrators and journalists. At around 2:30PM, while the journalist FatenAref Abdullah Alawan (38 years old), Al-Hurra TV reporter, was a live broadcasting from the field to the TV, several Israeli patrols approached the demonstrators and fired a barrage of tear gas bombs. Due to several bombs falling near her, she was injured and so her cameraman NidalMohammad Ramadan Hassan (32 years old), with severe suffocation. She stopped broadcasting and moved quickly towards the Red Crescent ambulance which was parked 50 meters away from her. She got in the ambulance and was provided with the necessary first aid. Shortly after, at around 3:15PM, while ROYA TV reporter, Hafeth Mahmoud Abu Sabra (32 years old), was near a gathering of journalists transmitting to the channel live along with his colleague, the cameraman Wisam Abed Rabu, things escalated in the area and in the West Bank in general.

The occupation patrols started firing a barrage of tear gas bombs at the demonstrators who were relatively far from the journalists. Suddenly, one of the military jeeps directed the vehicle towards the journalists and started randomly firing bombs one of which injured the foot of journalist Abu Sabra after hitting the floor. Other bombs fell near him and made him severely suffocate. He was shouting and calling his colleagues for help, as he was feeling dizzy and threw the microphone. Soon later he lost consciousness and when he woke up, he found himself on a carrier surrounded by a number of Red Crescent volunteers providing him with first aid. He had a headache after that for several hours. In the meantime, Mohammad JreirHamdan (30 years old), a cameraman who works for the Colonization & Wall Resistance Commission arrived at around 3:00PM the entrance of Al-Bireh to cover the events. He was wearing the Press mask. Ten minutes upon his arrival he started filming the incidents, and then he was injured by a rubber bullet in the left shoulder fired at him by one of the occupation soldiers. Immediately, the volunteer paramedics transferred him to the ambulance and gave the necessary first aid. He later came back to cover the events and did not go to the hospital. But during the night hours he felt severe pain, so he went to the Palestine Medical Complex and imaged the injury, and the doctors reassured him, gave him a painkiller and then he was discharged. Moreover, Palestine TV cameraman Ahmed Manasra was also slightly suffocated while he was covering the events.

 

(16th Feb.) A force of the Israeli occupation Army prevented Palestine TV staff to access DeirNitham Village to cover an event taking place there.

According to the investigations of MADA researcher, Palestine TV staff, including the reporter and journalist Haneen Al-Helo (29 years old), and the cameraman Mohammad Radi (35 years old), went on 16th Feb. 2020 to DeirNitham Village in Ramallah, across the street close to “Halmeesh” settlement, where a military checkpoint is established by the Israeli army since the occupation forces closed the village entrances, even though the mentioned checkpoint used to allow vehicles to pass. The staff arrived to the checkpoint at around 11:30, and when the soldiers saw they were journalists, they asked them to show their press cards, seized the key of their vehicle, told them they were not allowed to access, and detained them for more than an hour. While they were detained, the occupation soldiers provoked the journalist Haneen and her colleague Mohammad, when they started the alarm of the vehicle more than once, by pressing the vehicle’s key they seized earlier, and by cursing and insulting the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, kicking the front of the vehicle. One of the soldiers threatened the cameraman Mohammad Radi addressing him “if we see you in the area, we will beat you up” claiming that he films the soldiers. While one o the settlers approached the detained journalists’ vehicle but the soldiers asked him to move away. During their detention, the soldiers seized the cell phone of journalist Haneen Al-Helo for about 15 minutes when they saw her calling the TV Administration to inform them of what had happened claiming that they thought she was filming the soldiers. After one hour of their detention, the Palestinian DCO intervened and released them.

 

(19th Feb.) A force of the Israeli occupation forces detained "Al-Jazeera Live" staff and prevented them from coverage, while the staff was carrying out live broadcast about settlement and settler attacks in Tormusaya, West Bank.

According to the investigations of MADA researcher, journalist Alaa Al-Rimawi (41 years old), and cameraman Mohammad ShukriAwad (32 years old), from Tormusaya, have arrived at around 11:30PM, on 19th Feb. 2020, to live broadcast for Al-Jazeera Live, with a citizen from Tormusaya, who possesses lands in the eastern part of the town threatened to be seized and confiscated by the occupation authorities. About 25 minutes after the live broadcast to Al-Jazeera started, three Israeli military patrols arrived and the soldiers were accompanied by members of the Israeli intelligence, who immediately asked them for their ID cards and press cards, and seized their equipment and private phones, detained them in the rain and interrogated them about the reason they were in the place and for what agency they work. They remained in detention for an hour in the cold and rainy conditions, and then they released and instructed them to leave the place.

 

(20th Feb.) The Preventive Security Service summoned the photojournalist Nidal Al-Natsheh and questioned him about his press work.

According to the investigations of MADA researcher, at around 10:00AM, on Thursday, corresponding 20th Feb. 2020, “France 24” TV photojournalist Nidal Mahmoud AbdelhafeethAshmar (32 years old), from Hebron, learned from a relative, through a phone call, that the Palestinian preventive security service came to his house and delivered a written notification to his family. The notification stated that Nidal must appear at the headquarters located in Hebron, on Sunday 22nd Feb. 2020, at 10:00AM. Accordingly, Nidal went to the headquarters of the Preventive Security in Hebron, and when he arrived they took his personal card and took him to a detention room, where there were a number of wanted persons waiting. Nidal waited until 12:00PM, and one of the guards took him to a room where one of the investigators was. The investigator started his conversation with journalist Nidal, about the nature of his work, the media agencies with which he works as a cameraman, how he receives his salary and its value, the people working with him in the same job, how to communicate with workers in the channels he works for, and the emails he uses to send the filmed material. Nidal answered that he works with known agencies and that the Preventive Security Service can inquire about anything from the Prosecution if it wants as it is the sole party having the right to investigate with him about that. After that, the investigator asked Nidal about a post on his Facebook page, about his nephew Mutasem who was arrested by the Service Security four months earlier, claiming that Nidal emphasized on the word (abduction) in the post whichis inappropriate coming from a journalist. Nidal replied that he posted what exactly happened which was not arrest. The investigation session lasted for 15 minutes. Then the journalist went back to the waiting room, which was very small considering the number of persons who were waiting and which exceeded 20 persons. Journalist Nidal stayed until 2:15PM, after which he was taken again to an investigation room in which another investigator was present. He asked him the same questions that were discussed during the preliminary investigation session, but this time focusing on the nature of the press reports he prepares, how he receives his salary, and how he communicates with the media agencies he works with.During the investigation, the investigator told Nidal that his cell phone was monitored, and Nidalreplied “The Preventive Security has no right to monitor my phone" and that if he managed to be certain that indeed his phone is monitored, he will go to the judiciary. The session lasted about 30 minutes, and before the journalist left the investigation room, the investigator asked him about his belongings they kept from the time of his previous arrest about 3 years ago: a laptop. 4 hard disks, 2 cell phones, and 8 USBs. The investigator informed him that he will contact him the next week about the said belongings. Nidal left the headquarters at 3:15PM.

 

(20th Feb.) A force of the Israeli occupation army detained the freelance photographer Mahmoud Mutan on his way to his town at night, for five hours, and questioned him.

According to the investigations of MADA researcher, Mahmoud Mohammad Mutan (34 years old), a freelance journalist and cameraman, at 11:30PM on Thursday 20th Feb. 2020 was on his way to his town Burqa eastern Ramallah where he lives. When he arrived DeirDebwan bridge, there were Israeli military patrols. They stopped him and the soldiers asked him to show his identity card. They got him off the vehicle, searched it thoroughly and fifteen minutes later, the soldiers handcuffed and blindfolded him. They took him to one of the military vehicles and detained him for five hours under investigation.

The occupation army arrested the cameraman Mutan on 17th April 2019 for 11 days in Ashkelon prison, and during his arrest, the Israeli soldiers seized computers and an amount of 11,000 NIS from his home at the time and he was unable to return the amount of money.

 

(21st Feb.)The journalist Mohammad Mahmoud Inaya (28 years old) was injured with rupture and bruises in his feet when the occupation bulldozer pushed large rocks at the demonstrators and journalists during a demonstration in KufrQadoum, Qalqilya.

According to the investigations of MADA researcher, Mohammad Mahmoud Inaya (28 years old), Palestine TV cameraman, arrived at around 11:40PM, on Friday, 21st Feb. 2020 to KufrQadoum to cover the weekly march organized every Friday against the closure of the village entrance and the settlement. He was wearing the helmet and blue vest marked Press, and there was great number of demonstrators. Immediately, Mohammad Inaya started filming the events between the demonstrators and the occupation soldiers. Dozens of citizens were in the march that was moving towards the closed street at the town’s entrance (the street overlooking Qadomem settlement in KufrQadoum territories), and there the occupation soldiers attacked the demonstrators with gas and sound bombs as well as rubber-coated metal bullets heavily and randomly which resulted in the injury of a number of demonstrators. In the meantime, when it was 12:30PM, the demonstrators retreated dozens of meters to the back because they were suppressed by the army.

The cameraman Mohammad Inayaand a number of journalists were close to these events. Forty minutes later (at around 1:10PM), while he was at 100 meters away from Omar Bin Al-Khattab Mosque, where the marches usually begin, an Israeli military bulldozer raided the area and attacked the demonstrators driving very fast and pushing large rocks at them. The cameraman Mohammad was standing few meters away from them filming what was taking place. Then he was surprised with the bulldozer pushing one of the rocks at him which made him fall to the ground. His camera completely smashed as well as the camera tripod. Some of the demonstrators rushed to move him away and take him to the ambulance that was close to them. It was found later that both of his feet were injured. He then was immediately transferred to Darwish Hospital, Qalqilya, where he was imaged an x-ray. He stayed at the hospital until Sunday 23rd Feb. 2020 to make sure he does not feel any complications. A CT scan was done for him and it showed ruptures in both of his feet. The doctors recommended him to avoid walking for a week as he could not stand up of pain.

 

(25th Feb.)Around five journalists were suffocated by gas bombs fired deliberately at them by the occupation soldiers while they were covering a peaceful march against settlement eastern Tubas, northern valleys, West Bank.

According to the investigations of MADA researcher, the Colonization & Wall Resistance Commission called for a march in solidarity with the families of the northern valleys to protest against settlement. On 25th Feb. 2020, several busses, in a peaceful march, went to that area located eastern Tubas. The Israeli occupation army closed the road to the demonstrators near the checkpoint and suppressed the march by firing a barrage of rubber bullets and tear gas bombs towards the demonstrators in the march, which was attended by a number of journalists. The occupation soldiers deliberately fired gas bombs at the media staffs while they were covering the suppression of the army to the peaceful march. This seemed flagrant to an Israeli officer who approached Mutasem Sameer HamdiSaqf Al-Hait (31 years old), the cameraman of the Syrian News Channel, while he was few meters away from the gathering of demonstrators.

Without warning, the Israeli officer sprayed pepper spray directly and deliberately at the face of the cameramanMutasem, which resulted in severe suffocation, his colleagues rushed to transport him to an ambulance, knowing that this assault was documented by a video clip. Moreover, Al-Ghad Channel cameraman HazemImadHusni Nasser (30 years old), was injured by a gas bomb in the right thigh, while he was filming an interview his coworker the Channel reporter Khaled Saleh Mahmoud Budair (31 years old) was conducting with one of the demonstrators when the occupation soldiers fired several bombs at them, one of which injured the cameraman Hazem in the right thigh directly, which is why he was taken to the Turkish Hospital in Tubas to receive treatment. His coworker Budair was severely suffocated and he received the field first aid by the Red Crescent crews. In similar circumstances, while Palestine TV cameraman, Loay Abdel HafeezAref Al-Samhan (40 years old), and his colleague Ameer Shaheen were preparing a report about the march in the same place, the occupation soldiers fired several gas bombs towards them, which caused Loay to severely suffocate and suffer shortness of breath and fall to the ground. He was given first aid and was taken to the Turkish Hospital for treatment.

 

(25th Feb.) The Preventive Security Service arrested the reporter of "Sanad" News Agency, Mohammad Anwar Muna, detained him for about 20 hours, and re-summoned him more than once after he was released.

According to the investigations of MADA researcher, Mohammad Anwar FathiMuna (38 years old), a reporter of Sanad News Agency, received at around 12:00 midnight, 25th Feb. 2020, a phone call to his house phone in Zawata Nablus. The moment he asked the caller his name, the latter hung up. Fifteen minutes later, he received another call, and the caller who introduced himself to be from the “Preventive Security” asked him to open the house door, and he immediately did. He saw an officer in military uniform who gave him a paper and told him it was “an authorization from the prosecution to search the house”. He informed him that there is an arrest order against him and asked him to bring his identity card and cell phone. The officer seized the laptop, cell phone and identity card of journalist Muna. While other Preventive Security officers, in 20 minutes, searched the house except for the children’s room. Furthermore, his wife’s (who is a teacher and uses the laptop for her work) laptop was searched as well. They arrested the journalist Muna and took him to Junaid Prison in Nablus. He arrived there at 1:00AM. He was brought before the medical services to be medically examined. Then he was taken to the Preventive Security headquarters in Nablus, where he signed a paper on what has been seized from his house, including the laptop, two cell phones, and a Sony video camera. They took him to a cell where he stayed until 10:00AM the next morning, and he was not allowed to go out to use the toilet, as no one answered his calls regarding this. At ten in the morning, he was questioned by a person called Jihad Bani Odeh (legal adviser) who asked him about the reason for his arrest without explaining anything to him, and then he was returned to the cell. At around 5:00PM that day, an officer who was in a civilian dress called him and took from him a statement about his name, the names of his children and their ages, the name of his wife and her work, the nature of his work, the agency he works for, how much he received as a salary, the agency’s orientation, the names of his brothers and sisters and their work, and about his arrest by the Israeli occupation and the reason thereof, and his arrests by the Palestinian Authority and the reasons. After about three hours (at around 8:00PM) they summoned him again and handed him a notification to go to the Preventive Security Service at 10:00AM in the morning on Thursday 27th Feb. 2020 and released him after an arrest that lasted for 20 hours. On the mentioned date (Thursday 27th Feb. 2020), the journalist Muhammad Muna went to the headquarters of the Preventive Security Service in Nablus and there he was detained until 5:30PM without even seeing him by anyone. Then he was given a new appointment on Sunday 1st March 2020 at 10:00 after they took his identity card.

 

(25th Feb.) A force of the Israeli occupation army detained Palestine TV staff and prevented it from accessing DeirNitham Village, where it was about to record an episode of "Today's File" program, claimibng that Palestine TV was inciting in its programs against the Israeli occupation.

According to the investigations of MADA researcher, a large staff of Palestine TV included 13 employees: the program presenter, journalist Salam Al-Deek, the director SuhaibFuad, the preparer OsaidSbaih, the broadcast engineers IyadHadeeb and HishamMughannam, the cameramen OdayHarbeyat, Mohammad Al-Arouri and Ahmad Habiba, the lighting engineer Ahmad Al-Nashef, the sound engineer MutazShehada, the transportation personnel Mohammad Rawashda and Mohammad Radwan, arrived at around 1:00PM, on 25th Feb. 2020, the entrance of DeirNitham village in three vehicles, to film the episode of the program with the families of the village. When they arrived the entrance, near Halmesh settlement, the Israeli soldiers, who were setting up a military checkpoint in the area, stopped them, detained them and seized their personal cards, took copies of the same. After about 40 minutes of their detention, Ahmad Al-Nashef spoke to one of the officers and asked him about the reason for their detention. The officer told him that Palestine TV crews are "inciting against the Israeli army" and showed him on his cell phone some pictures and reports that were broadcasted on the TV, claiming that they "incite against the Israeli soldiers”. While the staff members explained to the officer that they cover the practices of the Israeli army as part of their press coverage, and that they have the right to move freely and do their professional work as necessary. After more than two hours of their detention, Harbeyat said they told the officer that they will not film. The officer photographed all of the staff members and told them that he will share their photos at all military checkpoints to prevent them from access. Accordingly, the army released the staff members, provided that they return to the city of Ramallah and stop their filming, but the TV Administration insisted on filming the episode and the episode was filmed from an area in the neighboring village Nabi Saleh close toDeirNitham, but instead of conducting interviews with the people of the village of DeirNitham as decided, it was sufficient to host the head of the village council, who was able to reach the location of filming in Nabi Saleh.

 

(26th Feb.)  The Israeli occupation police arrested the journalist MujahidMuflih at a military checkpoint on Ramallah-Nablus Road, while he was accompanied by his wife and two children.

According to the investigations of MADA researcher, the occupation soldiers stationed at Za’tara Checkpoint, on Ramallah-Nablus Road, have stopped, at about 5:00PM, on 26th Feb. 2020, Mujahid Mohammad BaniMuflih (30 years old), who works as an editor for Al-Quds.com Website, and AltraPalestine News Website, on his way to his town Beta along with his wife and two children. They arrested him, seized his cell phone, and his wife’s cell phone, took him to the Ariel settlement police station, while his wife and two children remained in the car until one of his relatives (his uncle, Islam Al-Shurafa) came and drove the car and brought Mujahid's wife and two children to the family’s house in Beta. He then learned that the journalist Mujahid contacted the Palestinian Prisoner Club from the investigation center in Ariel settlement and told them that the occupation police was questioning him on charges of "incitement through his social media page". On Sunday 1st March 2020, the journalist MujahidMuflih was brought before the Israeli Military Court in Salem. His detention was extended. And his trial was adjourned until Thursday 5th March 2020.

 

(28th Feb.) A Preventive Security force raided the family house of the freelance journalist Ayman Qawarek at night, in order to arrest him, but he was not home at the time, and told him to come by himself to the headquarters the next day.

According to the investigations of MADA researcher, a force of the Preventive Security, after the middle of the night, on 28th Feb. 2020, raided the house of the freelance journalist[1] Ayman Faisal Mahmoud Qauarek (33 years old) with the intention to arrest him. But at the time, he was in Howarah town to cover an assault carried out by settlers there. He received a phone call from one of his brothers while he was in a live broadcast to Quds News Network. He did not pick up and dismissed the calls many times. But at 12:05, he received a call from a number not registered in his cell phone, so he stopped the live broadcast, and answered the call. The caller introduced himself as a preventive security officer and that they were in his family's house, to arrest him. Qawarek said that he was in Howarah to cover the assault carried out by settlers against the citizens there. The Preventive Security told Qawarek family that Ayman should come by himself to the headquarters and they seized two cell phones and two computers from the house. When the journalist’s father asked to be given a document proving that they had seized the devices, they wrote a handwriting paper but did not give it to him. Journalist Qawarek did not go the next day to the Preventive Security headquarters in Nablus until Sunday 3rd Feb. 2020. It should be noted that he posted about the raiding of his family house on his personal page.

 

(29th Feb.) The Institutions Security Department summoned the reporter of WAFA Agency, but the latter did not respond, as the summons was later canceled after the Journalists Syndicate intervened.

According to the investigations of “MADA” researcher, the Administration of WAFA News Agency, on Saturday 29th Feb. 2020, contacted the journalist Rami Samara, one of its employees, and informed him that the Institutions Security Department at the Palestinian General Intelligence contacted WAFA on Thursday 27th Feb. 2020 and summoned the journalist Samara to come on Sunday 1st March 2020. At around 2:00PM on Saturday (29th Feb. 2020), the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate contacted journalist Samara and informed him that it had contacted the Institutions Security Department and canceled the summons. Journalist Rami Samara said that he does not know what is the reason for summoning him by the Institutions Security Department, and that no one from the Department contacted him to inform him about the matter after the Syndicate canceled the summons.

 

 

 

 


[1]A freelance journalist who works with several institutions including Quds News Network and Tayaqan Website, 48 Arabs Website and others.