Ramallah – (10th Nov. 2020) – October has witnessed a significant rise in the total number of violations against media freedoms in Palestine reaching a total of 38 violations, compared to 31 documented ones in September.
This increase in the total number of violations is attributed to a noticeable escalation in the number of Israeli violations that have considerably doubled, as well as a sharp drop in the number of Palestinian violations limited to two only.
A total of 4 violations committed by Facebook Company were documented in October, closing and blocking news site pages belonging to journalists claiming that “they violate the posting standards”.
The number of Israeli violations has doubled during October, as it amounted to 31 violations compared to 13 Israeli violations documented during September, that is, an increase by 100%, not to mention that many of these violations were compound and involved all journalists as in more than one incident. Journalists were directly targeted, prevented from media coverage, and threatened to be forced to leave the events’ sites, as in the case of Burqa Village, in Ramallah, while covering an olive harvesting event.
There was no noticeable change in the nature of the Israeli violations in terms of type, as most of them fall under the serious attacks against the lives of journalists and freedom of the press, most notably the arrest of three journalists (one of whom was banished from Al-Aqsa Mosque for a week), and the injury of 21 journalists while they were covering field events (five of whom were injured by rubber bullets), while the others suffocated and some of them were assaulted.
The Israeli violations have affected: journalist Tareq Abdelrazeq Abi Zaid (arrested and equipment seized), Abdullah Bahsh (injured by a rubber bullet in the right foot), Hassan Khaled Nafe’/Dabous (injured by a rubber bullet in the hand), Ameed Zayed Shehadah (injured by a rubber bullet in the right hand elbow), Ayman Ibrahim Nobani (injured by a rubber bullet in the right shoulder), Hisham Abu Shaqra (injured by a rubber bullet in the neck), Abbas Abdelwahhab Al-Momani (pushed and assaulted), Adel Ibrahim Abu Neima (pushed and assaulted), Khaled Sabarnah (attempted arrest, kicked out and prevented from coverage), Alaa Al-Rimawi (assaulted, attempted seizure of equipment, scratches as a result of a bomb that was thrown at his feet), Imad Mohammad Saed (bruises due to falling from a 2.5-meter wall pushed by a soldier), BBC Network Cameraman Jimmy Moris Michel (suffocated along with a co-worker due to two gas bombs fired at him from zero distance), Mohammad Ali Turkman (suffocated and prevented from coverage), Mutasem Saqf Al-Hait (suffocated and prevented from coverage), Samed Tawfiq Baghdadi (suffocated and prevented from coverage), Issam Husa Al-Rimawi (suffocated and prevented from coverage), Naser Naser (suffocated and prevented from coverage), journalist Abdelrahman Younes (suffocated and prevented from coverage), European Agency cameraman Alaa Tawfiq Badarnah (suffocated and prevented from coverage), Al-Jazeera Live cameraman Mohammad Awad (suffocated and prevented from coverage), Palestine TV staff (including Baker Mohammad Abdelhaq, the cameraman Samer Al-Habash, and the driver Abdullah Sawalmah) that was detained by settlers and prevented from coverage, Palestine TV staff including the cameraman Mohammad Inaya and reporter Anal Al-Gada’ (suffocated after being targeted directly with gas bombs), Moath Amarnah (detained by the police while heading to treatment for an injury caused by soldiers), Abdelrahman Asad Aref Al-Thaher (arrested), Mashhour Al-Wahwah (prevented from coverage), freelance cameraman Abdelafou Bassam Abdelafou Al-Zughair (arrested and alienated from Al-Aqsa).
During the past month, the Palestinian violations have sharply decreased from 15 violations to only two documented violations in the West Bank, namely: Journalist Firas Al-Tawil was threatened on social media by a group of lawyers after he posted a press investigation about the Palestinian Bas Association and its lawyers receiving "illegal" charges, and the injury of journalist Ahmad Talaat Fawzi Hassan was injured in the knee by a stone while protesters threw stones at Israeli soldiers in Kafr Qaddoum while he was covering those events.
Alongside the previously mentioned violations, Facebook Company in October has blocked 5 news sites pages belonging to Palestinian journalists, claiming that they were violating the standards of posting, namely: the page of Israeli affairs activist and journalist Mohammad Abu Alan Daraghmeh, the official page of "Al-Quds Today" TV, the page of the freelance journalist Imad Issa Jibril, the page of journalist Hafez Abu Sabra, and "Dora Media Network" website page.
Details of Violations:
(1st Oct.) The Israeli Occupation Forces have arrested journalist Tareq Abu Zaid from his house located in Nablus.
According to MADA researcher, a force of the occupation army, at 3:30AM, on Thursday, corresponding 1st Oct. 2020, has raided the house of Tareq Zbdelrazeq Dawoud Abu Zaid (45 years old), who is a freelance journalist, located in Nablus, after blowing up his front door and raiding the room where he and his wife sleep. The force searched the house for half an hour, seized a number of official documents for journalist Abu Zaid, his cell phone, laptop, his kids’ Ipad, arrested and transferred him to Petah Tikva Investigation Center, where he stayed until a closed court hearing was held for him on 4th Oct. 2020 at Salem Court. His detention was extended for 9 days, and on 12th Oct. 2020 he was again brought before Salem Court and his file was referred to Prosecution. His lawyer requested to visit him on the same day (12th Oct. 2020) but her request for the visit was denied. She was allowed to visit him on the following day (13th Oct. 2020). His lawyer told his wife that the investigation with Tareq is about his journalistic work, and that he was brought again for questioning. On 18th Oct. 2020, the Military Occupation Court at Salem extended Abu Zaid’s arrest for another 8 days, to refer his file and search for the possibility to place an indictment against him.
(2nd Oct.) Five journalists were injured while covering clashes following a march organized in Kafr Qaddoum, Qalqilya, against settlement in conjunction with the 20th anniversary of Al-Aqsa Intifada.
According to MADA researcher, on Friday afternoon, 2nd Oct. 2020, once the weekly organized march against settlement was launched, while it was being covered by many journalists, the occupation soldiers, who were deployed in various locations around the town, started firing rubber bullets, tear gas bombs, and sound bombs to suppress the march, resulting in the injury of several journalists.
While journalist Abdullah Bahsh (23 years old), a reporter of Al-Quds News Network, was covering the march, 200 meters away from the demonstrators, he was injured by a rubber bullet in his right foot. He received field treatment, and left to his house. At around 2:00PM, while Hassan Khaled Hassan Nafe’ (Dabbous) (29 years old), a freelance cameraman, and a volunteer at Btselem Organization, was at 50 meters away from the soldiers, trying to move away from the clashes to a secured area, was injured by a rubber bullet in his hand fired at him by one of the soldiers. He was transferred via a Red Crescent Ambulance to Rafidia Hospital in Nablus, where he was imaged and the x-ray images showed that he had bruises, infection and swelling in his hand. Furthermore, journalist Ameed Zayed Ahmad Shehadah (33 years old) Al-Arabi TV reporter, was injured by a rubber bullet in his right elbow from the back, causing him swelling and cramping. He went to the hospital where he was imaged and underwent some examinations that showed bruises. He received the necessary treatment and was discharged. In the meantime, the photojournalist Ahmad Talaat Fawzi Hassan (27 years old), a freelance cameraman, was injured by a stone in his knee while the demonstrators were throwing stones at the army. He was taken to Palestine Medical Complex in Ramallah, where he underwent x-ray images and found to have bruises. He received the necessary treatment and left to his house. At around 1:30PM, WAFA Agency cameraman, Ayman Ameen Ibrahim Nobani (34 years old), was injured by a rubber bullet in his right shoulder while he was covering the events, and he was also injured by a stone in his leg by one of the demonstrators who were throwing stones at the soldiers.
(11th Oct.) No less than 15 journalists were injured after being assaulted by the Occupation Forces while they were covering the attempts of citizens in Burqa, Ramallah, trying to access their lands for olive harvesting close to an outpost constructed on the village’s lands, along with a number of volunteers.
According to MADA researcher, dozens of farmers from Burqa, east Ramallah, went on Friday morning, 11th Oct. 2020, to their lands located to the west of the village, near an outpost that is constructed there, to harvest their olive trees, accompanied by a number of journalists and media crews. Before they arrived to their lands, they were surprised with groups of soldiers deployed in various locations near their lands. They assaulted the farmers and fired tear gas bombs and rubber bullets at them. They also tried to prevent the citizens and journalists from being present there. They directly assaulted them, pursued and kicked them out claiming it is a military zone. This resulted in the injury of dozens of citizens with suffocation, including a number of journalists. They tried to arrest some of the journalists and seize their equipment, while some of them were injured by rubber bullets and others were assaulted and pursued not to mention preventing the from coverage. These violations have affected: the cameraman of Anatolia Agency Hisham Abu Shaqra (rubber bullet tin the neck), the French Press Agency cameraman Abbas Abulwahhab Al-Momani (pushed and assaulted), Reuters Agency cameraman Adel Ibrahim Abu Nema (pushed and assaulted), Iranian Iribnews reporter Khaled Sabarnah (attempted arrest and kicked out), Al-Jazeera Live report Alaa Al-Rimawi (assaulted, attempted seizure of equipment and scratches due to throwing a sound bomb at his feet), Associated Press cameraman Imad Mohammad Saed (pushed by one of the soldiers deliberately while he was on a 2.5-meter wall, which made him fall and got injured with bruises), BBC Network cameraman Jimmy Moris Michel (two gas bombs were fired from zero distance directly at him causing him and his colleague suffocation, he was also prevented from coverage while being injured from the soldiers who threatened him at gunpoint, but one of the ambulance volunteers managed to get to him even though the soldiers prevented him from getting closer at the beginning), Al-Hayat Al-Jadida Newspaper and Anatolia Agency cameraman Issam Huda Al-Rimawi (injured twice by a gas bomb fired directly at his shoulder). They were all suffocated, threatened, pursued, kicked out and prevented from coverage by the soldiers, even though they were wearing the press uniform. Furthermore, the following journalists were prevented from coverage and got kicked out from the location of events not to mentioned suffocated due to the tear gas bombs: Reuters cameraman Mohammad Ali Turkman (50 years old), Al-Arabiya TV and Quds News Network cameraman Mutasem Saqf Al-Hait (27 years old), the cameraman Samed Tawfiq Baghdadi (28 years old), the cameraman of Associated Press Naser Naser, the journalist Abdelrahman Younes, the European Agency cameraman Alaa Tawfeq Badarnah, and Al-Jazeera Live cameraman Mohammad Awad.
(13th Oct.) The settlers and occupation soldiers prevented Palestine TV staff to cover the establishment of an outpost in Beit Dajan, detained them along with two other persons from the village tobe interviewed within the report from the place.
Palestine TV staff (composed of reporter Baker Mohammad Sabah Mamdouh Abdelhaq, cameraman Samer Al-Habash, and driver Abdullah Sawalmah), went at 11:00PM, to cover the assaults of settlers and the establishment of an outpost above the lands of Beit Dajan, eastern Nablus, northern West Bank, accompanied by Naser Abu Jaish, the Chairman of the Popular Committee to Defend Beit Dajan Lands, and Abdelraheem Hanini, Beit Dajan Council Chairman, to show them the relevant location and be interviewed about it.
While the staff was live broadcasting the assaults, a number of armed settlers approached them and attempted to prevent the staff from filming and broadcasting, by threatening and cursing them. Fifteen minutes later, another group of settlers showed up and informed the staff that they are under detention. Immediately after that, a force of the occupation army came and seize their IDs to be checked. Ten minutes later, one of the officers returned their IDs and told them they were under arrest. Abo Baker told them that the staff is only doing its job and will leave eventually, so the officer told them to leave the location (except for the activist Naser Abu Jaish who was with them, to kidnap him) but the staff insisted to leave altogether as they came. After one hour of detention, they were released and left the location.
(16th Oct.) The journalist working for Ajyal Radio Network, Firas Al-Taweel was exposed to a series of threats through the social media sites by a group of lawyers, after he posting a press investigation on 16th Oct. on the illegal charges the lawyers and their Bar collect for endorsing legal documents and powers of attorney, but forcing the notary public not to authenticate any document unless after the seal of the Bar Association, as came in the investigation. Al-Taweel, on 16th Oct., posted the first material of the press investigation on the social media sites, and two hours later, it was the entire investigation was published by Ajyal Radio Network, ROYA TV, and Areej Network for Press Investigations. Once the press investigation was first posted and then the entire investigation, the threats and curses would not stop against the journalist Al-Taweel, on his personal page as well as some of the lawyers closed groups. It escalated to the extent that one of the lawyers threatened Al-Taweel with the same horror fate as of that of the Jordanian young man whose hands were chopped off and eyes gouged by a local Jordanian criminal gang. Therefore, Al-Taweel, on 20th Oct., filed a complaint before the Palestinian Attorney General’s Office, along with the Journalists Syndicate Board member Omar Nazzal, to pursue these threats and curses and take the necessary legal action, noting that the threats varied and ranged between chopping off his hands, gouging his eyes, fighting with him if he goes to Jericho, legally prosecute him, and others. None of these threats have actually addressed anything related to the contents of the investigation. rather, they targeted him personally, as he attached some of these threats and comments with the complaint filed at the Public Prosecution.
(16th Oct.) The photojournalist Issam Al-Rimawi was injured by a gas bomb in his shoulder while he was covering events in Beit Dajan.
According to MADA researcher, the photojournalist Issam Huda Al-Rimawi (36 years old), words for Anatolia Turkish Agency and Al-Hayat Newspaper, before Friday noon, 16th Nov. 2020, went to Beit Dajan, eastern Nablus, to cover a march against the outpost established above the lands of the village. While a number of journalists were covering the march 200 meters away from the demonstrators, the occupation soldiers threatened them more than once and asked them to leave. In the meantime, the soldiers fired sound and tear gas bombs directly and heavily at them to force them to leave. One of the gas bombs injured the journalist Al-Rimawi in his shoulder causing him surface wounds that was treated in the field by the Red Crescent Ambulance staff that was present there.
(16th Oct.) The occupation soldiers assaulted Palestine TV staff while it was covering clashes in Kafr Qaddoum, amid their live broadcast to Palestine TV even though they were far from the soldiers and demonstrators, resulting in their suffocation.
According to MADA researcher, Palestine TV staff, composed of the cameraman Mohammad Mahmoud Hassan Inaya (28 years old), and the reporter Anal Basem Aref Al-Jada’ (31 years old), has arrived Kafr Qaddoum, Qalqilya, at around 12:20PM, on Friday 16th Oct. 2020, wearing the blue press uniform, the helmet and the mask to protect themselves from the tear gas. They started covering the weekly march taking place every Friday since more than ten years against the settlement and closing the village entrance. Once the demonstrators crossed 500 meters away from the Village’s center, where the march usually starts, clashes erupted with the occupation soldiers who were hiding under the olive trees. At that moment, Palestine TV staff and four other journalists were standing at a house corner 100 meters away from the soldiers, and few meters away from the demonstrators. The soldiers started firing metal bullets, sound and gas bombs randomly at them. At 12:45PM, the clashes escalated and the soldiers approached the demonstrators to suppress them and stationed themselves at the corner where the journalists were standing, forcing four journalists to step back while the cameraman Mohammad Inaya and the cameraman Jafar Ishatayya continued documenting the events two meters away from the soldiers who asked them later to leave. Shortly after, while Mohammad Inaya and his coworker Anal Al-Jada as well as the cameraman Mohammad Inaya were close to the olive mill at the closed street corner, and Al-Jada’ was broadcasting to Palestine TV Live, and the soldiers were 200 meters away, they started firing gas bombs at the staff even though no demonstrators were around them, resulting in the injury of Anal Al-Jada with severe suffocation, and vomiting which required taking him by the ambulance. He was injured severely because he took the mask off while he was live broadcasting, and his coworker was also suffocated.
(27th Oct.) The Israeli Police detained the journalist Moath Amarna while he was going to his treatment in Jerusalem City after being transferred to one of its centers even though he had an Israeli permit to receive treatment in Jerusalem.
According to MADA researcher, at around 10:00AM, on Tuesday, 27th Oct. 2020, the journalist Moath Ibrahim Atiya Al-AMarnah, 30 years old, arrived to (AL-Misrara) vehicles parking at Bab Al-Amoud, Jerusalem, to head to Hadassa Hospital, to underwent medical examination and receive medical reports on his injury by gunshot fragments fired at him by one of the Israeli Borders Police while he was covering a peaceful march western Souref, western Hebron, on Friday 15th Nov. 2019. One of the Israeli police officers stopped Moath and asked for his ID card and entry permit to Jerusalem, and indeed he responded to the officer’s orders. Ten minutes later, the police informed Moath that there is no permit allowing him to enter to Jerusalem City and Amarnah replied that he entered the city (300) times through the checkpoint, under a medical permit that was issued for him (despite the security prevention) as he has been receiving medical treatment at Hadassa Hospital for a long time. The police officer asked Moath to accompany him to the police vehicle that took them to the Israeli police center in Salah Al-Deen street, where the journalist was taken to a room inside of which the police investigator was waiting. He was questioned about the reason he was in Jerusalem without having a permit to enter. After an argument, journalist Amarnah asked the police officer to bring his cell phone and he contacted the Israeli Liaison at “Gush Etzion” settlement where the permit was issued and informed them that he was detained by the police in one of its centers claiming he does not have a permit. After two-hour argument, Amarnah was released.
It is worth mentioning that Amarnah lost his left eye due to an injury by gunshot fragments that have settled near his brain cavity as the doctors fear it may move at any moment especially, they could not remove it given the gravity of the operation. Not only he had lost his eye due to injury, he also lost his job at the news agency he used to work for.
(27th Oct.) The occupation forces have arrested the journalist Abdelrahman Asad Aref Al-Thaher from his house located in Nablus.
According to MADA researcher, a force of the occupation army, arrived on Tuesday 27th Oct. 2020, at dawn, to the house of the director, producer and presenter of programs at An-Najah TV, Abdelrahman Asaf Aref Al-Thaher (38 years old), knocked on the house door and when he opened the door for them, they asked for his ID. When he went to bring the ID, around 20 soldiers entered the house after him and were all over the living room searching it. One of the officers asked him if he was taking any medication to bring it and asked where was his officer the house but he answered that he has no office other than that at his workplace. The officer told him that he is going to come with them, they seized his cell phone, handcuffed and arrested him. Later, his wife contacted HaMoked, the Israeli Human Rights Organization and learned that in 24 hours that he was at Howara Camp.
(23rd Oct.) The Occupation soldiers have prevented journalist Mashhour Al-Wahwah from filming and threatened him with arrest.
According to MADA researcher, journalist Mashhour Hassan Mahmoud Al-Wahwah (39 years old), from Dora, southwest Hebron, a photojournalist who works for WAFA Agency, has arrived at about 1:00PM, on Fridat, 23rd Oct. 2020, to Bab Al-Zawiya, central Hebron, to cover the clashes between the Palestinians who were throwing stones and the Israeli occupation soldiers, where the Palestinian demonstrators have closed the road leading to Wadi Al-Tuffah street and Beir Al-Sabe’ old street. The soldiers were few meters away from the military checkpoint in Al-Shuhada’ closed street on the opposite side. Journalist Al-Wahwah was in a nearby location close to the soldiers, who were firing sound and tear gas bombs randomly at the Palestinians who were throwing stones and chased one of them. Once the soldiers arrested one of the demonstrators who were throwing stones, Al-Wahwah approached to film it, but two soldiers assaulted him, started shouting and asked him to move away. When he tried to talk to them, one of the soldiers pushed him to back and threatened him with arrest if he would not leave and stop filming. Al-Wahwah tried to take pictures from far away, but the soldier came after him and kept shouting at him, forcing him to move farther and leave the site of the events. No one except him was present with the journalists at the site.
(October) Facebook Company has closed no less than 4 news paged belonging to Palestinian journalists claiming they violate the publishing/posting criteria.
According to MADA field researcher, Facebook Company has blocked, for one month, all of the accounts of the Israeli affairs activist and journalist Mohammad Abu Alan Daraghmeh, starting from 1st Oct. until 1st Nov. for the claim of “incitement” and violating the posting criteria noting that all of the page’s posts claimed to have violated these criteria are only news, and translations of the same. The block included all of his accounts including the main page that is followed by 7000 users, and when he activated a back up account after 48 hours, it was closed as well.
On Wednesday, 28th Oct. 2020, the main page of “Quds Today” TV was closed. It is a Palestinian page that posts daily news as well as social and political programs and other news about prisoners (broadcasts a total of 26 programs through the Facebook page), based in Al-Shorouq Tower, Gaza City, and followed by 60,000 users, verified by Facebook. It was closed claiming that it posts “issues violating the public policies and criteria of Facebook”. The page received notifications on this regard as stated by the Executive Director of the TV channel Eng. Wael Rajab Naseem Fannounah. Most of the notifications received by the Channel were about its program broadcasted about the case of the prisoner Maher Al-Akhras, who has been on food strike inside the Israeli Occupation prisons for 97 days, in addition to the program “Hona Al-Asima/the Capital is Here” which addresses Jerusalem city and Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Israeli violations against the same. The TV channel administration contacted Facebook Company on the closure immediately but did not receive any response and thus created a new page.
It should be noted that Facebook Company has previously closed the TV official page twice. The first time was in November 2018 and the second was at the end of 2019. The third closure was after one year post the last one.
On 5th Oct. 2020, Facebook Company has closed the account of freelance journalist Imad Issa Jebrel, claiming it violates the posting criteria. This was the fourth time his page was closed since the beginning of September 2020 when it was closed and journalist Jebrel could not create any new page for being linked to his personal email address and personal cell phone number.
On Sunday, 25th Oct. 2020, the social networking site Facebook suspended, for three renewable days, the page of the Jordanian channel “ROYA” reporter in the West Bank, journalist Hafez Mahmoud Abu Sabra, from publishing and commenting on for allegedly publishing content that violates Facebook standards, according to Facebook's claim. The block for posting on Abu Sabra page came after it published a comment about the Palestinian prisoner on hunger strike (Maher Al-Akhras), on the 92nd day of his hunger strike in the Israeli prison, and he received a message from Facebook several minutes after posting, in which he was informed that he was blocked from posting and commenting through his page. After he contacted Facebook Company, he was informed that he had published content that violated Facebook standards, and his activity on his page was suspended for a period of three days, subject to renewal.
Furthermore, Facebook Company has closed “Dora Media Network” website, which is a social news website, run by journalist Issa Abu and followed by 80,000 users, claiming it violated the posting criteria. It is believed that this closure is linked to listing the names of Palestinian martyrs and organizations. He was forced to create a new page (Dora Media) noting that in 2018 and 2019 Dora Network Page was also closed.
(30th Oct.) The Occupation forces have arrested the freelance photojournalist Abdelafou Bassam Al-Zughair while he was covering a demonstration in Jerusalem City, who was alienated from Al-Aqsa for one week, and summoned him to another investigation after the expiry of his alienation.
According to MADA researcher, on 30th Oct. 2020, after Friday prayers, at Al-Aqsa Mosque, in Jerusalem, a demonstration was launched to protest against the offense of the messenger Mohammad - All Prayers and Blessings of Allah be upon him- in which thousands of prayers have taken part. The occupation forces have assaulted the demonstrators and some of the journalists who were covering the demonstration, and arrested the freelance photojournalist Abdelafou Bassam Abdelafou Al-Zughair (28 years old), and took him to “Al-Yaho” Investigation Center at Bab Al-Silsilah, where he was taken by the police vehicle to Al-Qashla Investigation Center at Bab Al-Khaleel. He was questioned about the demonstration and those who planned it, as well as about the parties who organized the same and the figures that took part thereof, noting that he informed them from the beginning that he is only a photojournalist. The investigator showed him some pictures of him while he was at Al-Aqsa Mosque and asked him about the person in the pictures and he replied that it was him and he was there doing his work. He was released from Al-Qashla Center at about 5:00PM provided he stays away from Al-Aqsa Mosque for one week as of the date of arrest (until Thursday 5th Nov. 2020) and visit the center afterwards (Thursday, 5th Nov. 2020) to be questioned at Al-Qashla Center. He was threatened with another alienation order for a period of six months.