First, we – at “MADA” Center – would like to extend special greetings to all workers in the public and private health sectors, including doctors, nurses, paramedics, personnel, and to all members of the security services who are making great efforts to examine and treat Corona Virus patients and limit its spread as well as implement measures and procedures to protect citizens from the epidemic.
We also wish to praise the measures taken by the Palestinian leadership and government to protect our people and limit the spread of Corona virus epidemic, including journalists and all media workers. We further stress the necessity of concerted efforts by everyone to ensure the safety of journalists while carrying out their work, and we emphasize the necessity of releasing journalists detained in Israeli prisons, as well as in Gaza Strip. Furthermore, we would like to emphasize the importance of safeguarding public freedoms including freedom of expression and continue working on the campaign launched by “MADA” to raise awareness on the risks of rumors and the need to verify news and their resources.
Ramallah – March has witnessed a limited decrease in the total number of violations against media freedoms committed in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. A total of 31 violations were documented during March compared to 39 documented during February. It is worth noting that Facebook Company has committed more than half of the violations documented during March (16 violations) while the number of Israeli violations decreased to 4 violations only and the Palestinian violations totaled to 11 violations (9 in Gaza Strip and 2 in the West Bank).
The preceding month, February, witnessed a total of 39 violations; the Israeli violations represented the most of which (31 violations) while the Palestinian violations totaled to 7 in that month noting that no violation committed by Facebook was documented as in March.
The overall decline was witnessed in the number of violations documented during March due to the decrease in the number of Israeli violations which noticeably declined as a direct result of the closure in the West Bank and Gaza Strip several weeks ago due to the spread of Corona Virus, and the followed suspension of various field activities and events in which the media and journalists are usually targeted during to prevent them from covering any events and reporting on the practices and procedures carried out by the Israeli occupation.
The Israeli violations against media freedoms committed in the West Bank and Gaza Strip decreased as a result of the limited movement and contact due to the ongoing closure in Palestine because of the spread of Corona Virus and the suspension of most of the activities. The Israeli violations were limited in the following four violations which did not deviate from the usual Israeli violations against journalists and media outlets: the injury of An-Najah TV cameraman Mohammad Zuhair Sayeh by a rubber bullet in his leg fired at him by one of the occupation soldiers from a few meters directly and deliberately, the injury of his coworker the TV reporter Jamal Al-Shuaibi with severe suffocation, the injury of journalist Mohammad Sabah Abdelhaq with rubber bullet fired at him by an Israeli soldier from a distance of one meter approximately while he was covering a sit-in against settlement in Beta, the injury of the photojournalist Jafar Ishtayya by a rubber bullet in his leg from the back fired at him by an occupation soldier while he was covering the events of the weekly march against settlement and the closure imposed on Kufr Qadoum in Qalqilya.
March witnessed 11 Palestinian violations most of which have taken place in Gaza Strip (9 violations) which fall under the serious violations against media freedoms, represented in the arrests which involved assault and torture.
The Palestinian violations involved assaulting the journalist Yasser Abu A’thrah by the security and police officers in Rafah and seizing his cell phone while he was filming a protest against turning two schools as centers for the quarantine of persons infected with corona virus in Gaza Strip, the arrest of caricaturist Ismail Fayez Al-Bazm by the General Investigation and Police in Gaza twice in a row and assaulting him while being detained because of a complaint filed against him by the Attorney General without knowing the specific reason as well as the arrest of author Abdullah Mohammad Abu Sharkh by the police on the background of his writings and posts, the prosecuting of journalist Ahmad Daloul and summoning him more than once due to publishing a comment on the falling of a student at her school and calling of starting investigation on her death, raiding the headquarters of Sawt Al-Watan Radio by the security services officers to implement an imprisonment order against an employee who works as a sound technician even though he was not at the headquarters then, and the arrest of journalist Ayman Qawareq from Aurta for three days and assaulting him during that time by the Preventive Security Services.
The Administration of Facebook Company has implemented a broad campaign to prevent posting, and live broadcasting. This has taken place in late March. This campaign has affected the pages of no less than 16 journalists in addition to dozens of the Palestinian citizens in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, claiming that they violate “Facebook Policies”.
In most of the procedures taken to prevent posting, no clear or direct reason was provided to those whom pages were closed or affected by such procedures. Most of these procedures have taken place between 23rd March and 26th March 2020 creating the impression by some that “this may be due to technical failure”. However, the procedures have been taken and implemented. Below are the details of journalists who have been prevented from posting and live broadcasting:
Details of Violations:
(1st March) Photojournalist Mohammad Zuhair Sayeh was injured by a rubber bullet fired at him by one of the Israeli occupation soldiers directly and deliberately while he was covering the raiding of settlers and occupation forces to Mount Al-'Arma in Beta, southeast Nablus.
According to the investigations of MADA researcher, Mohammad Zuhair Yousef Sayeh (34 years old), from Nablus, the cameraman of An-Najah TV, has arrived before Sunday afternoon corresponding 1st March 2020 to Mount Al-'Arma located in Beta to cover clashes that have erupted between the families of Beta and the settlers who were seeking settlement in the territory and were protected by the occupation forces. Al-Sayeh was in his press uniform. At around 11:30, along with his coworker, An-Najah TV reporter, Othman Jamal Othman Al-Shuaibi (28 years old), the anchorman and preparer of programs at the TV, they were at 15 meters away from the soldiers broadcasting a message to An-Najah TV on the events taking place there in live broadcast, while the Palestinians demonstrators and protestors were 150 meters away. One of the Israeli Army patrols approached them quickly and suddenly, and when it reached 4-5 meters away from them, one of the soldiers shouted at them and cursed them to leave the area immediately and fired a tear gas bomb at them. They ran away, as far as they could from the soldiers. Only few seconds later, one of the soldiers looked at them, shouted and cursed them and asked them to leave again. Al-Sayeh pointed to the soldier that he is walking away but the latter pulled up his gun immediately and fired a rubber bullet deliberately and directly at him. Al-Sayeh was injured in his right leg (tibia). The moment he was injured, Al-Sayeh tried to move away but fell to the ground and remained on the ground for five minutes waiting for the ambulance. However, one of the occupation soldiers fired two gas bombs directly at them which resulted in the injury of Al-Sayeh and his coworker with severe suffocation. Five minutes later (at around 12:00PM), the soldiers moved away from them for 200 meters. The demonstrators were able to reach them and move them in an ambulance. Al-Sayeh and his coworker Othman Al-Shuaibi were transferred to An-Najah Hospital after they were given the first aid. In the hospital, Al-Sayeh was imaged an x-ray and he was given the pain killers and medications. He was discharged after two hours of hospitalization.
(2nd March) The security services in Gaza Strip raided the headquarters of Sawt Al-Watan Radio to execute an imprisonment order against an employee working as the sound technician in the Radio.
According to the investigations of MADA researcher, Baha Al-Deen Fathi Ismail Al-Ruzi (32 years old), the sound technician at Sawt Al-Ghad Radio in Gaza Strip, located in Dawoud Tower, 14th Floor, has arrived to his workplace at 12:00PM, on Monday 2nd March 2020 to continue his work. At around 2:45PM on the same day, four officers of the Internal Security Services in Gaza (who were in their official uniform carrying clubs) raided the Radio headquarters without clarifying in the beginning why they were there. In the headquarters, Al-Ruzi was accompanied by his coworker Reem Al-Sakani. When the four security officers entered the Radio headquarters, they asked Al-Ruzi about his coworker Fayeq Kuhail against the imprisonment order is issued, Al-Ruzi told them that he was not there and that he was in the morning present but then went home, but they did not believe him. Without showing any official document or notification, they searched the Radio and raided the entire headquarters. They seized the cell phone of Baha Al-Ruzi by force and took the number of his coworker Fayeq (who is wanted according to the imprisonment order). Before leaving, their explained that they came due to an order by the Public Prosecution given the imprisonment order against Fayeq, noting that the raiding took half an hour and then they left.
(2nd March) The Preventive Security Services arrested the journalist Ayman Qawareq from Aurta for three days during which he was questioned about his posts on the social media even though a force of the Preventive Security raided Qawareq’s house on 28th Feb. 2020 at night to arrest him but he was not home then and notified him to surrender himself on the following day but he did not until he was arrested after few days in Beta.
According to the investigations of MADA researcher, Ayman Faisal Qawareq, a teacher and freelance journalist working for Quds News Network and Arab 48 Website, while at around 11:30PM, on Monday 2nd March 2020, was in Beta, a person in civilian clothing approached him and asked him to stop and accompany him when a blue civilian vehicle approached them immediately. There were two persons inside the vehicle in addition to the driver. He pushed him towards the vehicle and quickly drove away. After driving 50 meters, the vehicle stopped next to another vehicle to which the journalist Qawareq was transferred. Inside the vehicle, his hands were tied to the front and he was taken to the Preventive Security headquarters in Nablus. He was taken inside an office where his handcuffs were removed and he received his personal belongings. Two minutes later, officers (tall and black skin) started beating him up violently on his shoulders, chest and head. At the same time, other officers also were involved in beating him, one of them tried to suffocate him by pressing his hands to his throat. He was beaten for several minutes and then “drawn along behind on the ground” by force between the corridors of the offices; they even stepped on his body while laid on the floor screaming. After that, the person who first saw him in Beta the moment he was detained sat on him to allow his coworkers to tie his hands painfully and tightly. Then one of the officers pushed him to the ground floor where they sat him on a chair and tied his hand behind and transferred him to Al-Junaid Prison. The moment he arrived the prison, he was taken to the medical clinic and then to a (meter/meter) cell. Few minutes later, he was taken to another cell that was very cold, with not mattress or cover, and with iron beds only. He stayed in that cell until the evening hours during which he was questioned three times by an investigator who introduced himself as “Abu Al-Majd, the Director of Investigation in the Preventive Security of the northern area”. He was questioned about his press work and his personal views posted on Facebook especially that a number of his posts must not be published even if according to the law, because the “law is not always correct”. He was questioned about three posts, one of which about Oslo Accords and the other about the Century Deal while the third post criticizes the chief justice Mahbmoud Al-Habash and other posts. Qawareq replied that he is a journalist and he is expressing his view according to the law and Basic Law, after each investigation session they took him back to the same cell. On the following day, he was summoned at 11:00PM before “the legal counselor of the Preventive Security Services” who introduced himself as “Captain Asem Ramadan”. The legal counselor asked Qawareq what he was asked and questioned in the previous day while Qawareq asked about the charge attributed to him and the counselor told him that he was accused of “contempt of authority” and he was writing down the answers of journalist Qawareq on a piece of paper that was in front of him. Then he was asked to sign the statement, but Qawareq refused to do so and asked to read it. However, the investigator considered that Qawareq “did not want to sign and no need to read the statement”. After 12:00PM, he was taken and brought before the Public Prosecution in Nablus after waiting for two hours. MADA’s lawyer Majd Qirmaz who was defending him was also present. The Public Prosecution accused him of “contempt of authority” and showed several posts of his on the social media including “plant Oslo and you will reap the century deal” and the post of criticizing Palestine partition map. The journalist Qawareq denied all of the charges attributed to him and told them that he was violently assaulted by the Preventive Security officers and that the abuse impacts were still evident on his body. He was then taken back to the Preventive Security headquarters to a cell where he stayed until the evening. He summoned again to investigation and felt like throwing up so they took him to the restroom and then back to the cell where he stayed until the third day of his arrest (Thursday – 5th March 2020) when he was brought before the court where the Public Prosecution requested to extend his detention for 15 days but MADA lawyer objected and presented what justifies his release rather than extend his detention. The judge refused the Public Prosecution’s request and issued his release decision. Qawareq was then taken back to Al-Junaid Prison. Three hours later, he was summoned to investigation and asked him to give urgent statement about his personal posts and views. He replied the same as the previous investigation session. Then he was taken to the Preventive Security headquarters where he met one of the officers and they discussed together the freedom of opinion and publishing. At 6:30PM on the same day, he was release.
(11th March) The journalist Mohammad Sabah Abdelhaq was injured by a rubber bullet fired at him by one of the occupation soldiers while he was covering a sit-in against settlement in Mount Al-'Arma, Beta.
According to the investigations of MADA researcher, Baker Mohammad Sabah Mamdouh Abdelhaq (30 years old), the reporter of Palestine TV at Nablus, has arrived at around 8:30PM, on Tuesday 10th March 2020 to Mount Al-'Arma to cover a sit-in that landlords of Mount Al-'Arma and the families of Beta have organized to take place up the Mount to protest against the threats of the settles to occupy the Mount for settlement purposes. He was sending short reports about the peaceful sit-in and he stayed in the place. At 5:00AM, at dawn, on Wednesday 11th March 2020, the occupation army patrols and the settlers stormed Mount Al-'Arma while the occupation soldiers were firing a barrage of gunshots, metal bullets as well as sound and gas bombs to disperse the protesting landlords and families up the Mount. At 6:10, while the journalist Abdelhaq was standing near the Red Crescent tent to present a report to the TV on the updates, his coworker shouted and told that one of the soldiers is pointing his gun at him but he could not move then as the distance was very close to the soldier, about one meter. He was injured in the left leg, and one of the Red Crescent paramedics rushed to provide him with medical assistance but the soldier forced them to leave the area. Abdelhaq was unable to walk on his left leg due to the injury while the soldiers continued firing gas bombs at them. Abdelhaq was taken by one of the paramedics walking 2 kilometers. They were followed by the soldiers, and when they became close to them, one of the soldiers approached Abdelhaq and spit on his face and gave him the finger. Abdelhaq tried to talk to the officer, but the latter refused to listen to him and threatened him to fire a sound bomb at him if he would not move away. The journalist Abdelhaq along with other injured persons were taken via an am balance to Rafidia Governmental Hospital to which they arrived at 7:00AM. Abdelhaq was out of consciousness and he received the first aid, oxygen and ventilation (due to the gas he inhaled). It was found that the gas caused him severe infection in the respiratory airways as to the rubber bullet fired at his leg, it caused minor fracture to his tibia. He stayed at the hospital until 11:00AM, and then went home after receiving the necessary treatment.
(13th March) A force of the police of Jabalia Al-Nazlah Center in Gaza Strip arrested the author Abdullah Mohammad Abu Sharkh at his house located in Al-Saftawi towers, near UNRWA agency/northern Gaza. He is still under arrest until the present time (1st April 2020).
According to the investigations of MADA researcher, a force of the police of Jabalia Center, at around 10:30PM, on Friday 13th March 2020, arrested the author, Mohammad Abdullah Abu Sharkh (56 years old), married with three children, lives in a house located in Al-Saftawi towers northern Gaza Strip, without warning, and without showing any arrest order according to the rules and law. The author Abu Sharkh used to work as a teacher. He was subject to assault and detention more than once as well as threatening by anonymous parties on the background of his posts on the social media and new media on issues of democracy, social and political development. The moment he was arrested, his wife (Basma Shehda AlBayari/Abu Sharkh) contacted several parties including MADA center represented by its lawyer Ihsan Abu Sharkh, to follow up on his case, visit and contact him in prison. His family learned from MADA lawyer, who was defending him, that he was arrested in Jabalia Center (later he was taken to the Central Prison northern Gaza known as “Abu Obaida” central Beit Lahia) as requested by the Public Prosecution for charges of writing essays and publishing them on his Facebook page, especially the post he copied and pasted for three minutes on his page about Al-Nusairat fire and deleted it later. The Prosecution and Judiciary extended his detention for 15 days. This is not the first time Abu Sharkh is arrested. He was before arrested by the security services in Gaza more than once due to his writings. According to MADA lawyer, the Attorney General of Gaza issued a detention order against the author Abdullah Abu Sharkh on the background of his post about Al-Nusairat fire. His detention was extended for 48 hours. On 16th March 2020, he was brought before the detention judge who extended his arrest for 15 days even though the Public Prosecution accused of “misusing the technology means” according to Article 262 repeated Of 1936 in addition to the charge of “passing along rumors and lies disrupting reassurance” in contrary of Article 62 of Law Of 1936. It started investigation and questioned him about his “post” that was circulated by dozens of pages even though he deleted the mentioned post several minutes after posting it and asked his friends to do the same and delete it the moment he realized “it did not make sense”. MADA lawyer attended the investigation sessions of Abu Sharkh at the General Investigations in Jabalia Al-Nazlah Center and so the investigation sessions before the prosecutor of northern Gaza Prosecution Office. He asked for his release since he denied the accusations attributed to him and since there shall be neither criminalization nor punishment unless under a provision, not to mention that the above mentioned articles do not apply to the incident, the subject of investigation. Furthermore, the author Abu Sharkh did not have the deliberate intention as stated in Articles 62 and 262 – h 36. The lawyer further presented a legal memo to object on the detention order to the Attorney General and did not receive any response until the moment. He also filed for a bail according to the rules to Northern Gaza Magistrate Court. The special hearing took place on 23rd March 2020, however, the judge denied the request and accordingly the lawyer appealed the issued decision before Gaza Court of First Instance in its appeal capacity and renewed the appeal request. A hearing was scheduled on 9th April 2020, MADA lawyer reported that he intends to start food strike starting from the morning of Wednesday 1st April 2020 and asked him to officially announce this to the public.
(13th March) The cameraman and journalist Jafar Ishtayya was injured by a rubber bullet fired at him by one of the occupation soldiers while he was covering the weekly march events against settlement and closure imposed on Kufr Qadoum in Qalqilya.
According to the investigations of MADA researcher, Jafar Zaher Hussein Ihstayya (52 years old), works as a cameraman for the French News Agency, northern the West Bank, went on Friday 13th March 2020 to Kufr Qadoum, eastern Qalqilya to cover the weekly march organized by the families several years ago protesting against settlement and the closure of their town’s entrance by the occupation army. After the march was launched in front of Kufr Qadoum mosque at around 12:00PM, the Israeli occupation soldiers intercepted it east of the village where the demonstrators were heading to protest against the closure of their entrance which has been closed since 2003. The soldiers started firing tear gas bombs, rubber bullets and sound bombs at the demonstrators to disperse them while the demonstrators were throwing stones at the occupation soldiers. In the meantime, the journalist was standing near the demonstrators 60 meters away from the soldiers (the firing and stones). After he completed taking pictures of the events, he went back to the area where the march was launched at around 1:30PM. On his way back, one of the soldiers who was hiding in the olive trees fired rubber bullet at him intentionally without any reason. The cameraman Ishtayya was injured in his leg from the back (behind the knee) even though he was wearing the press uniform and the safety press means. Immediately, he was taken by an ambulance where he received the first aid in field and was taken to his house. He completed the treatment with a specialized doctor who lived next door.
(15th March) Some of the security and police officers in Rafah, Gaza Strip assaulted the journalist Yasser Abu Athrah, seized his cell phone while he was filming a protest against using two schools as centers for corona virus patients in Gaza Strip.
According to the investigations of MADA researcher, the journalist Yasser Sulaiman Abu Athrah (33 years old), from Al-Shabourah Camp in Rafah, a cameraman and reporter for Kanan News Agency, arrived at around 3:00PM, on Sunday 15th March 2020, Al-Nasser Village eastern Rafah to cover the sit-in there protecting against the government procedure of turning Ghasan Kanafani and Marmarah Schools to quarantine centers for corona virus patients. When the journalist Abu Athrah arrived, he did not see any security officer in the location of the protest in front of the schools and he immediately started filming the protestors and conducting interviews with them on the cause of their protest and their demands. Twenty minutes later, while he was interviewing one of the protestors, he saw a number of citizens running from security officers in military uniform carrying weapons and sticks. They were running towards him, so he stopped filming immediately and suspended the interview he was conducting. He closed his phone, moved away and stopped 50 meters away from the security forces (in Salah Al-Deen main street overlooking the buildings of the schools). In the meantime, a person in civilian clothing, unarmed, approached him, and without introducing himself, attacked the journalist and tried to seize his cell phone even though Abu Athrah loudly said that he is a journalist. Soon after, five police officers came, pushed Abu Athrah and assaulted him with their hands on his chest and back without even considering the fact that he is a journalist. He was injured with bruises and suffered pain in his chest. They seized his cell phone by force, and left him in the location and went to the protest to join the remaining of officers who were trying to disperse it. Abu Athrah tried to contact the administration of the institution he works for, and with some of the officers to give him back his cell phone. He also contacted the Head of the Palestinian Media Assembly Alaa Salamah for the same purpose but could not reach him. At 4:00PM, the police officers forced him to leave the area. On the following day (Monday 16th March 2020) he retrieved his cell phone and received a phone call from a person who works at the Interior Media Office in Gaza, he asked him to come see someone working in the Ministry Media Office-Rafah Office to get his cell phone. He went there and indeed took his cell phone, and he found the material he filmed of the protest near the quarantine center deleted. Days later, the Interior Media Office asked him to come, and a representative of the Office, Iyad Al-Bazm apologized to him for what had happened.
(25th March) The General Investigation and the Police northern Gaza arrested the caricaturist Ismail Al-Bazm from his house located in Jabalia Camp, Al-Falouja, twice in a row.
According to the investigations of MADA researcher, and based on the statements of his brother (Rabah), the caricaturist Ismail Fayez Mohammad Al-Bazm (36 years old), married with two children, a caricaturist, was arrested by the Investigation Services at his house in Jabalia, at around 8:00PM, on Friday 20th March 2020, by two persons who arrived his house in civilian clothing and then took him to Jabalia Police Center. On Saturday, at around 8:30PM, the prison attorney was treating the detainees and prisoners very badly, repeating to them “I do not want to hear any of you”, addressing them with profanity. Ismail intervened and objected, and one of the police officers assaulted him violently. After that, the prison attorney ordered to take Al-Bazm to a solitary confinement, that was filthy, with dirty water and with no lighting. He remained there for twenty minutes, and then was taken back to a cell that was 5 meters with 11 prisoners inside. During his detention, he was not questioned, and he was released on Sunday 22nd March 2020 at around 2:00PM, without returning his cell phone or personal belonging. But he learned that he was arrested under a complaint by the Attorney General without knowing the reason of the complaint. Two days later, specifically at 1:00PM, on Tuesday corresponding 24th March 2020, Ismail Al-Bazm went to the Police Center to receive his personal belongings and indeed he took them and left the center heading home. In the evening of Tuesday corresponding 24th March 2020, at around 8:00PM, the police sent him a notification to come again to the police center. In the morning of the following day, Wednesday 25th March 2020, he received another notification from the police center to come again. His brother, Rabah, received the notification and called Ismail and told that he is wanted and must go to the police center. At 12:30PM, on Wednesday, 25th March 2020, a police force (composed of three jeeps with 30 police officers) stormed the house violently searching for Ismail. He was arrested and they did not allow him even to change his clothes. His brother, Rabah, followed them to the police center with some clothes for Ismail, and to ask why his brother was arrested again. The police officer told him that it was because “of an old Facebook post” without clarifying the reasons. On the same day, his family contacted MADA center, represented by its legal counselor in Gaza Adv. Ihsan Abu Sharkh, to follow up on the case of arresting Ismail and release him. At 11:00PM on Thursday, 27th March 2020, someone called Ismail’s brother and introduced himself as a police officer of Jabalia Military Center. He asked him to open Ismail Facebook page and post an apology to the Attorney General as follows “I apologize to the Attorney General for the misunderstanding that had happened in the earlier incident”. His brother asked the police officer why should he post such an apology and what had Ismail even done to the Attorney General? And whether Ismail was arrested under a complaint by the Attorney General? And what offence he had committed? The Police officer replied that once this post is shares, Ismail will be released. Once the apology was posted, the Attorney General’s attorney contacted Al-Bazm and told him that he will be released after the apology. Al-Bazm tried to know what was the reason and mistake did he do to the Attorney General whom he does not even know personally (as he stated) but he did not receive any answer or explanation and remained in detention without even knowing the reason and without being questioned during his detention. He was released at around 2:30PM on Sunday 29th March 2020 and his cell phones as well as his personal belongings were given back to him as they were seized when he was arrested.
(29th March) The journalist Mutasem Daloul was subject to a series of prosecutions and summons by security and official authorities in Gaza due to posting a comment on the fall of a girl at her school. He was notified that he will be arrested if he does not bring a waiver from the Ministry of Education on a case it filed against him on this regard.
According to the investigations of MADA researcher, the journalist Mutasem Ahmad Ibrahim Daloul, who works for “Al-Monitor” Website, received on Sundary morning 29th March 2020, a phone call from “Al-Tufah Al-Daraj” Police Center in Gaza telling him the need to bring a waiver from the Ministry of High Education in Gaza on the case filed against him to close his file, otherwise, he will be imprisoned on the background of a complaint the Ministry has filed against him for defamation in connection to the death of Rahaf Zaino at Fahed Al-Sabah School, in February 2020, who fell from the 3rd floor at her school. Journalist Daloul posted on his Facebook page a comment on Wednesday 12th Feb. 2020 asking the Ministry of Education to open serious investigation in the case of the mentioned girl, Rahaf Zaino. On the following day 13th Feb. 2020, he received a phone call from the spokesperson of the Ministry of Education, Mutasem Al-Minawi, informing him that the Ministry of Education has nothing to do with the case and that the girl’s family is the party to be held responsible as the Ministry of Education has evidence. He summoned him to come to the Ministry to have a look at the details. On the following day, Daloul went to the Ministry after deleting the post as requested in the aforementioned phone call. In there, they talked to him in general that the girl “was suffering from psychological issues with her family and attempted suicide several times, and that the Investigation Police opened a serious investigation and informed her family that they caused her suicide, and that we do not wish to make this huge although we have the evidence but we are ashamed to tell her family the truth”. Daloul replied that what the Ministry said made no sense and that an investigation committee has to find out the circumstances of the incident. The Ministry spokesperson threatened him “if you do not delete the posts I will beat you up”. When Daloul came back to his house, he reposted it (after he had deleted it earlier). Two days later, Daloul received on 15th Feb. 2020 a phone call from the Attorney General’s Bureau Director Diaa Al-Madhoun,who praised the efforts of journalists and asked Daloul to delete the post and come to the headquarters of the Attorney General’s Office to have a look at the details. Indeed, journalist Daloul went on 16th Feb. 2020 where they told him that the Prosecution opened an investigation in the incident under the supervision of the Attorney General, and once they complete the investigation, her family will be notified and the details will be published. When Daloul came back to his house he posted a new comment saying that there might be hope to reveal the truth after he met with the Attorney General in Gaza. Then he saw some comments of officials at the Ministry of Education on their personal pages “defaming” the girl. On 19th March 2020, Daloul received a phone call from “Al-Tufah Al-Daraj” Police Center asking him to come to the police center in Al-Zayton Neighborhood. When he arrived, he was questioned about what he had posted on Facebook on the case of the student Zaino and that he is accusing the Ministry of Education for her death. He replied that he commented that Zaino was murdered at her school by falling from the 3rd floor and that he demanded to open investigation to find out the truth of the incident. He was told that a case is filed against him by the Ministry of Education at the Prosecution and the police asked him to bring a waiver paper from the Ministry to close his file but he told them that he is not going to the Ministry and came back home.
Last Sunday, 29th March 2020, he received another phone call from the police telling him to bring the paper otherwise he will be arrested because the case file is not closed yet.
(23rd March) Facebook Company has executed a broad campaign of preventing posting and live broadcast. This has affected not less than 16 accounts of the below journalists claiming they violate the criteria of Facebook without clarifying to most of them the direct cause of preventing them from posting and broadcasting:
- Journalist Najeeb Farraj, from Bethlehem, a reporter of Al-Quds Daily Newspaper, prevented from publishing and commenting through his account for a month starting from 23rd March 2020. He received a notification that said “you cannot post or comment for 30 days, since your last 34 posts have not followed Facebook criteria”. This is not the first time he is prevented from posting “which represents part of my job as a journalist as I post news and reports away from views” as he stated.
- Journalist Ameen Abdelaziz Ameen Abu Warda (5 years old), from Nablus, works for Asda Press Website. He was prevented from posting at his account on 26th March 2020 without clear warning even though he received notifications on violating privacy and Facebook policies. Abu Warda tried to activate the account with the assistance of specialists but with no use. Furthermore, the live broadcast was also shut down at his account for 7 days (starting from the abovementioned date) without any clear reasons.
- Journalist Hafeth Abu Sabra (31 years old), a reporter of ROYA TV, received a message from Facebook Company Administration preventing him from posting or reacting through his account on Facebook starting from 26th March 2020 until 29th March 2020claiming that he violates the posting policies. The journalist did not create any alternative account as the prevention period was short as he believes.
- Journalist Aseel Subhi Eid (28 years old), from Qalandia, northern Jerusalem Ramallah, works for Palestine TV, a volunteer at Qalandia Media Center, prevented from reacting and live broadcasting through her personal account for a week starting from 26th March 2020. The Facebook Administration did not contact her but she received a message claiming that she “violates the Facebook criteria”. She was also prevented from scheduling news on the news pages she is admin in, including the page of Qalandia Media Center which was closed three times in varying periods during the past years even though it is followed by tens of thousands of users.
- The freelance journalist Bilal Al-Taweel (29 years old), from Hebron, prevented from posting for a week as well as from live broadcasting for six months, starting from 26th March 2020. He received a message that he violated “Facebook criteria in the news, images and names he posts” for some martyrs. Furthermore, his Youtube Channel was also closed on 6th March 2020 for unlimited period and without prior warning.
- Journalist Raed Ramzi Al-Shareef (35 years old), from Hebron, a reporter of Al-Ghad News TV. He was prevented to comment and post on his page for a week starting from 26th March 2020 claiming that he violates “Facebook” policy.
- Journalist Dana Ghazi Mohammad Abu Shamsiya (32 years old), from Jerusalem, works for Palestine TV, prevented from posting on her page on 23rd March 2020 for 7 days. Just like the rest of the journalists, she received a message that she violates Facebook policy in posting the news.
- Journalist Ameed Sami Dweikat (38 years old), from Nablus, works as anchorman at Tareq Al-Mahaba Radio broadcasting from Nablus, prevented from posting on his page for three days starting from 26th March 2020, and he is also prevented from live broadcasting on his page for several months due to old posts, some of which were posted several years ago.
- Journalist Qusai Yacoub Al-Halaiqa (36 years old), from Hebron, the owner and publisher of “Watan Weather Website”, an anchorman at Al-Hurriya Radio in Hebron, prevented from live broadcasting through his page for three months starting from 26th March 2020. He received a message from Facebook Company explaining the reason which was violating Facebook policy. He contacted Facebook Administration and filed an objection but did not receive any reply on this regard.
- Journalist Rami Samarah (35 years old), from Ramallah, works for WAFA News Agency and Ajyal Radio, prevented from posting and commenting for three months not to mention blocking him from using live broadcast noting that this was not the first time.
- Journalist Thaer Abu Alfellat (27 years old), from Halhoul, works for Al-Hurriya Media Network in Hebron, prevented from live broadcast on his page due to an old post he shared which was an image of the funeral of a Palestinian martyr. Abu Alfellat was notified to close the live broadcast on 26th March 2020 without specifying the term.
- Journalist Abdelrahman Abdelkareem Mohammad Hassan (32 years old), from Bethlehem, works as a reporter of An-Najah TV and Al-Quds Today as well as a freelance photographer. Facebook Administration prevented him on 26th March 2020 to post on his page without sending him a message clarifying the reasons.
- The Media Student at Birzeit University Naem Saed Miqdadi (19 years old), works for “Eye Palestine News” and “Palestine Times”, received on 1st Jan. 2020 a message from Facebook Administration preventing him to live broadcast for 90 days claiming he violates the policy of Facebook and that his account will be closed if he does not respond.
- Journalist Sami Saed Abdelsae, from Tulkarem, works as a reporter for An-Najah TV in Nablus, and a field researcher for MADA, received on 26th March 2020 a message from Facebook Administration preventing him to post and comment through his page for 90 days, however the prevention did not take place. Soon afterwards, he received another message extending his prevention to live broadcast for 90 days claiming that “he violates the Facebook Policy” and apparently the fault was in the wording of the message only. He did not contact Facebook Administration or any other party to solve the problem.
- Cameraman and journalist Issam Rimawi (36 years old), from Ramallah, works as a cameraman and journalist for Anatolia News Agency, and as a field researcher for MADA, prevented from live broadcasting through his page for 56 days starting from 26th March 2020 claiming that he violates Facebook criteria as explained in the message he received on this regard, noting that he was prevented from live broadcasting several times and his prevention was renewed and extended several times the last of which was on 17th Dec. 2019.
- Journalist Imad Jabreen (38 years old), from Bethlehem works as a freelance journalist, prevented from commenting and live broadcasting through his page for 90 days starting from 26th March 2020 claiming that he violates the criteria and policies of Facebook noting that this was not the first time his reaction through his page is restricted.