Ramallah - (4/1/2021) - The number of violations against media freedoms in Palestine witnessed a remarkable decline during the month of February, reaching 21 violations, compared to a total of 37 violations during the previous month of January.
This decline came as a result of the decrease in the number of Israeli violations, although it’s the party that was and still committing most of the violations, as it constituted 87% of all violations in January, and exceeded 90% of all violations during the month of February.
Violations against media freedoms in the West Bank and Gaza Strip
over the last two months
The number of Israeli violations decreased during February. A total of 19 Israeli attacks were monitored and documented, while during the previous month, 32 attacks were documented.
The Israeli attacks during February included the arrest of the photojournalist Ahmed Jalajel, the detention of his photographic equipment (still detained), also He was banned from working and covering any media activity for two weeks.
The Israeli occupation forces assaulted the photographers Nasser Shtayyeh and Majdi Shtayyeh and prevented them and the journalists Adel Abu Nimah, Zahir Abu Hussein and the Palestine TV crew from media coverage.
Moreover, The Israeli attacks included the detention of journalists, Ali Smudi and Sakhr Zawatiya, inspection of their equipment, preventing them from covering a demolition operation that was carried out in the village of Tora in the Jenin governorate, as well as preventing journalists Mashhour al-Wahwah, Ma'mun wzwuz, Musab Shawar, Ihab al-Alami, Musa al-Qawasmi, Wissam al-Hashlamoun, and Sari Jaradat from covering demolitions carried out in the Hebron governorate.
Facebook closed the account of writer Lama Abdul-Muttalib Khater and banned her from publishing on her own page or live broadcast for three months, due to a 2012 publication that the company considered a "violation" of its publishing standards.
During the month of February, no official Palestinian violation of media freedoms was documented in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, while one attack against the director of “Bethlehem 2000” radio, George Qanawati, was monitored as he was subjected to threats and attacks on him and on the radio station by the director of Beit Sahour municipality. Note that last month of January witnessed a total of only three violations, committed by various Palestinian parties in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
Details of violations:
(2-10) The Israeli occupation forces detained several journalists and searched their cameras while they were covering the demolition of a house in Tura Al-Gharbia village in Jenin governorate.
Soldiers detained the journalist Ali Samoudi, a reporter for Al-Quds newspaper, and his phone devices, searched it, and forced him to open his Facebook account to find out what he had photographed during the demolition of the house of a Palestinian detainee in the village of Tura al-Gharbiya in the Jenin governorate on Wednesday evening 10/2/2021, and forced the Palestine TV cameraman Sakhr Zawatieh, who was in a live broadcast on television about the demolition process, to stop the broadcast and searched the camera in order to identify what he filmed and to see pictures of citizens who tried to confront the army and threw stones during that. The cameras of a number of other journalists were also searched in the same way.
Journalist Smudi stated that: “The soldiers surrounded and stormed the building that we were in, which is about 200 meters away from the house that the army had come to demolish in the village of Tura Al-Gharbia, (The soldiers allowed us to be in that area).
“At that time, I was on the roof of the three-story building, and the soldiers ordered me to go down, but at that time I was transmitting an audio message about the event to a local radio (Ajyal) over the phone, and they forced me to end the call and hang up, confiscated my mobile devices, threatened to arrest me, asked me to tell them what I had photographed, forced me to open my Facebook account, and held me for about half an hour and later released me”. The journalist added.
Smudi also said: “They did the same thing with several other journalists, including Palestine TV cameraman Sakhr Zawati, who forced him to stop filming and searched his camera, knowing that he was broadcasting to the TV directly".
(1-2) Facebook banned writer Lama Abdul-Muttalib Khater, (44 years), from publishing on her FB page for three months.
On the first of February, journalist Lama Khater received a notification from Facebook stating that she was prevented from publishing, communicating or interacting on her page for 30 days, and that she was banned from live broadcasting and advertising on the page for a period of 90 days, under the pretext of violating Facebook standards for publishing which related to a post she published in 2012 about the Israeli war on Gaza.
The journalist Lama Khater tried to use another FB account of her bearing the same name, and announced that she would publish through it until the period of suspension of her main account expired, but whenever she tried to publish, she receive a message from Facebook says that she is banned from publishing, communicating, sending messages without specifying the duration of this ban.
(3-2) "Bethlehem 2000" radio station and its director journalist George Canawati, were attacked and threatened by the director of Beit Sahour municipality, claiming that the journalist Canawati had posted comments on Facebook that meant him – directly - Beit Sahour municipality director- . Qanawati denied and said that he wrote these posts In general terms, without relating to a specific person, but the director of Beit Sahour municipality believed that he was posting against him.
The director of the Beit Sahour municipality arrived at about 1:30 pm on Wednesday 03/02, the headquarters of Radio station, asking for its director George Carlos Canawati (37 years) using insults and improper words.
Canawati who was not at the station at the time. So, the municipality director left the radio station and returned to his car, but he again returned to the station (he removed his necktie and belt), to search for Canawati, and stood at the radio door, shouting insults.
As a result, journalist Canawati filed a complaint with the Public Prosecution. the prosecutor asked the municipality director about the reason for his behavior, he said that the journalist Canawati had written posts on his Facebook page against him. But the Public Prosecutor saw that Canawati posts did not indicate in any way the municipality director.
(2-10) The Israeli occupation forces prevented a group of journalists from media covering a demolitions carried out in southern Hebron in the West Bank, and detained them.
On Wednesday morning 10/2/2021 a group of journalists knew through a call from a citizen that a force of Israeli occupation army presence near the "Susiya" settlement, to the south of Hebron, to carry out a demolition operation in the area. The journalists were: Mashhour Hassan Al-Wahawah, a reporter for "Wafa" agency, and his colleague Hamzah Al-Hattab, a photographer for "Wafa" agency, Mamoun Ismail Wazuz (45 years), a photographer for the Chinese "Xinhua" agency, and Musab Shawer (33 years), a photographer for "Al-Hadath" newspaper, and photographer Ihab Al-Alami (26 years), Reuters photographer Musa Issa Al-Qawasmi (33 years), Anadolu Agency photographer Wissam Abdul Hafeez Al-Hashlamoun (27 years), and Quds News Network photographer Sari Jaradat.
The journalists arrived at the place around 8:30 in the morning, in that time the occupation army forces entered the “Tawamin” area and closed its only entrance and prevented the aforementioned journalists from entering the area and prevented them from covering. The journalists moved to “Susya” area to cover the demolition of a citizen’s tent there, and when they arrived they were detained by the occupation forces who were about to move to the south of the town of Yatta to demolish two other tents. The journalists kept detained in “Susya” area for more than an hour until the demolition operation south of Yatta ended. They were released around 12:30 pm.
(2-23) The Israeli occupation forces arrested photojournalist Ahmed Othman Jalajil and confiscated his equipment while covering an event in Jerusalem, and forced him to stop working and to not carry out any media activity for two weeks.
The photojournalist Ahmed Othman Ahmad Jalajil (40 years old), working with several news channels and websites, went at about 10:30 in the morning of Tuesday 23/02 to the Jabal Al-Tur neighborhood in Jerusalem to cover an event organized by the “Lady of the Earth Foundation” to celebrate the Kuwaiti National Day.
When he arrived, officers from the Israeli police and security forces intercepted his car, stopped him, searched the car, and confiscated his press equipment (a video camera, a photographic camera, a microphone, a camera stand, cables) and arrested him with and the director of the “Lady of the Earth Foundation”, Kamal al-Husseini, and took the journalist Jalajel to Salah al-Din police headquarters in occupied Jerusalem. They interrogated him on charges of documenting and filming Palestinian activities calling for Palestinian sovereignty in Jerusalem, and released him after a detention that lasted about five hours on someone's bail, and prevented him from carrying out any media activity for 14 days, and he was released without setting a trial date, while the camera kept in custody.
(2-27) The Israeli occupation soldiers beat photographers Nasser Shtayyeh and Majdi Shtayyeh, and prevented them and another group of journalists from covering a peaceful event that was organized in the Ein Al-Sakkot area in the northern Jordan Valley.
The photojournalist Nasser Suleiman Muhammad Shtayyeh (48 years) worked as a photographer for the British "Mirror" magazine and the Flash 90 website, and the photographer Majdi Muhammad Suleiman Shtayyeh (38 years) worked for the "Associated Press" with another group of journalists arrived at noon on Saturday 27/2/2021 to the Ein al-Sakkot area in the northern Jordan Valley, to cover an event organized by the “Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine” on the occasion of its founding anniversary in Ein al-Sakut, which is targeted by settlement and exposed to permanent Israeli attacks.
Upon their arrival, 12 female soldiers and three soldiers were in the place, one of the soldiers began targeting the participants and the journalists by firing tear gas towards them to disperse them and keep them away from the scene. After that, the occupation soldiers claimed that the area was a "closed military zone." The journalists demanded the soldiers to show the military decision that considers the area "closed", but they did not, which led to a verbal altercation between the journalists and the soldiers, during which the soldiers beat photographers Nasser and Magdi and prevented them from covering and photographing the event. The soldiers also tried to confiscate Majdi's vehicle, where they requested the car key, but he refused to give it to them. The soldiers also threatened to arrest them, claiming that they were hindering their work.