Ramallah - (16/9/2021) - The number of violations against media freedoms in Palestine witnessed a relative decrease during the month of August, which amounted to 31 attacks, compared to July, in which a total of 43 attacks were monitored and documented.
This decline came as a result of the decrease in the number of Palestinian violations to almost zero (one Palestinian violation was monitored), and the stability of the number of violations of social media networks, which was offset by the doubled number of Israeli attacks during August compared to July (see the table below).
Violations against media freedoms in the West Bank and Gaza Strip
over the last three months
During the month of August, the Israeli occupation committed 28 of the total violations against media freedoms that were documented in the West Bank and Gaza Strip this month, which amounted to 31 violations.
As usual, most of the Israeli attacks that were monitored this month were among the very dangerous attacks on media freedoms and on the lives and safety of journalists (71% of the total Israeli violations) , foremost of which are the physical attacks which affected 11 journalists, and the arrests and detentions (7 cases). This is in addition to the storming of the Palestinian Advertising Company in Hebron, confiscation of all the equipment and devices which was estimated by the company’s director Imad Al-Dhiba at about two million shekels, and the closure of the company for six months.
The most serious Israeli attacks included: the injury of photographer Assem Shehadeh with shrapnel from a bullet in his mouth, which led to a fracture of one of his teeth and injuries to his upper lip. The injury of the Journalist Naseem Maalla by a rubber bullet in the knee. The arrest of the journalists Abdel Mohsen Shalalda, Mashhour Hassan Al-Wahwah, Raed Al-Sharif, Jamil Salhab, Sari Jaradat, Ihab Al-Allami and Khalil Dhuib. Three of them were beaten while in detention, and summoned after they were released the evening of the day they were arrested. Five journalists from Gaza were severely suffocated. And the closure of the Palestinian Advertising Company after confiscating all of its equipment.
The number of Palestinian violations decreased from 23 violations recorded during the month of July, to one violation during the month of August. Journalist Alaa Issa al-Rabi was arrested by Palestinian intelligence in Dura after being summoned and interrogated in connection with what was published about the killing of activist Nizar Banat. He was transferred to Jericho prison, and released in the evening of the same day.
Facebook closed the page of journalist Naila Khalil for a month, due to complaints about what she publishes, as I learned, knowing that about 20,000 people follow her page,
The company also banned direct broadcasting and advertising on journalist Awawda's page for two months due to the inclusion of the name of Hamas in two of his news articles.
(2-8) Palestinian intelligence in the city of Dura in Hebron arrested journalist Alaa Issa Mahmoud Rabei, after summoning and interrogating him about his posts regards the murder of human rights and political activist Nizar Banat.
Alaa Issa Mahmoud Rabei, a 29-year-old specialist in digital media and works as a voice over commentator for websites, including the Quds News Network, and an Emirati company called sound deals, stated that he received a phone call from the Palestinian intelligence in Dura on Monday, 2/8/2021, But for some special reasons he was unable to meet them the next day. So he went on 4/8/2021, and when he arrived at the intelligence headquarters at ten thirty in the morning of that day he was interrogated for an hour and a half by an officer about the case of the killing of activist Nizar Banat, due to the close relationship between him and Banat, and about the posts he publishes on his Facebook page in this regard. Journalist Alaa made it clear to the investigator that what he publishes is a demand to hold Nizar's killers accountable and that he does not violate the law with his demands.
After the interrogation, Alaa was transferred to the cell section, where another officer interrogated him about the same issue, and then it became clear to him that there was an intention to arrest him, as his belongings were taken, and the prison doctor came and filled out a paper without examining him and wrote that “there is no objection to arrest.” Alaa protested against this procedure, and threatened to file a complaint against the attempted fraud and violation of the law. So the doctor tore that paper and asked the journalist Alaa to conduct a medical examination for him, but Alaa refused.
After that, journalist Alaa was placed in a cell that still under construction, recently painted, with no mattresses or furniture’s. He was held there for about an hour and a half, knowing that he suffers from allergies and sinuses, which caused him a headache. Then, intelligence agents came to him and transferred him around 4:30 in the afternoon to the Jericho Investigation Center. A medical examination was conducted for him to find that he suffers from high blood pressure. Although, he was interrogated again on the same subject, and at about seven in the evening of the same day, he was released after returning his belongings.
(6-8) Journalist Naseem Ma'ala was hit in the knee with a rubber bullet while covering a demonstration against settlements in Beita town in Nablus.
Journalist Naseem Ali Maalla, 25 years, from the town of Beita, who works as a reporter and photographer with the Quds News Network, stated that he went after Friday prayers (6-8-2021) to cover the weekly demonstration against settlements in the town of Beita, which usually involves confrontations with the Occupation forces. When Naseem starts the live broadcasting, while standing at a relatively distance from the demonstrators, and wearing a journalist's uniform, an Israeli soldier who was about 50 meters away from him targeted him with a rubber bullet hit him in the right knee. Immediately, a group of demonstrators rushed to carry him to the ambulance. Meanwhile, the soldiers fired more rubber bullets at them, wounding three of them. The journalist Maalla was then transferred to Rafidia Hospital in Nablus, where an x-ray was taken for the injury, which showed that the bullet caused a laceration in the muscles.
(2-8) Facebook closed the Facebook page of the journalist Naila Khalil, who has more than 20,000 followers.
Journalist Naila Khalil, director of the Al-Araby Al-Jadeed newspaper office in Palestine, stated that during the past two months, many reports were directed against her page and posts to Facebook Company, which causes the close of her page for a month, on the pretext that “the account is under scrutiny,” according to the letter Naila received in this regard.
Journalist Naila said that, according to her information, many reports against the pages of a number of Palestinian journalists are sent to Facebook during the usual official working days (from Sunday to Thursday), and these reports are almost non-existent during the weekend (Friday and Saturday), This indicates that those who send these reports are employees, according to more than one source close to Facebook.
(9-8) Facebook Company closed the page of journalist Aqeel Ahmed Awawda, and prevented him from broadcasting live for two months.
Aqeel, 31 years, a news editor and content producer at 24 FM Radio, stated to MADA Center that on August 9, 2021 Facebook closed his page because of two news publications in which the name “Hamas Movement” was mentioned. Facebook also banned Aqeel from live broadcasting through his page for 60 days, even though he is registered with Facebook as a journalist, based on a special form that journalists fill out. After communicating with Facebook, it claimed that the reason for closing was because the page "supports terrorist acts."
(9-8) Facebook Company closed the page of journalist Aqeel Ahmed Awawda, and prevented him from broadcasting live for two months.
Awawdeh, 31 years, a news editor and content producer at 24 FM Radio, stated to MADA Center that Facebook administration closed his page on August 9, 2021 because of two posts in which the name “Hamas Movement” was mentioned, and prevented him from live broadcasting through the Page for 60 days even though he is registered with Facebook as a journalist. After communicating with Facebook, the company claimed that the reason for closing his page because its "supports terrorist acts."
(13-8) Israeli soldiers assaulted journalist Theeb Rasmi Hourani (55 years) while he was covering Friday prayers at the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron on Friday, 13/08.
Journalist Theeb Hourani, 55 years, who works as a correspondent for Al-Manar TV, said that he was in the city of Hebron to cover Friday prayers at the Ibrahimi Mosque, around 1:30 a.m. on Friday, August 13, 2021. And while he was preparing to finish his report, the soldiers started throwing stun grenades at the worshipers and journalists to disperse them. At that time, the journalist was surprised by one of the soldiers attacking him, pushing him and hitting him with his hand several times without any reason.
(18-8) A force of the occupation army stormed the “Palestinian Advertising Company” in Hebron, confiscated all its equipment and closed it for six months.
Imad Hussein al-Dhiba, 56 years, the company’s director, said that an occupying force (7 jeeps, a military personnel carrier and 3 large trucks), stormed at 12:30 a.m. on Wednesday, 08/18/2021, the company’s headquarters located in Ain Sara area in Hebron city. The occupying force called him to inform him of its presence at the company's headquarters and asked him to come to the company. When he arrived, the army was besieging the place, and a large force of soldiers was deployed inside the company checking all devices and assets.
When the director of the company (Al-Dhiba) arrived at the company headquarter, he asked the officer in charge of the reason for the storming, who replied that they had an executive order from the General Intelligence officer in the West Bank to confiscate all the equipment in the company. They actually confiscated all 19 equipment, devices, printers and computers, as the total amount was estimated at two million shekels.
The soldiers withdrew from the scene at about two o'clock in the morning, and left at the entrance of the company a military order to close the company's headquarters for a period of six months ending on February 10, 2022.
It is worth mention that the “Palestinian Advertising Company” has been operating in Hebron for 26 years, and employs 13 people.
(21-8) The photographer of the “National Media Production” Company, Assem Muhammad Shehadeh (35 years), was injured by shrapnel in the face while covering the mass festival east of Gaza City on Saturday, August 21, on the anniversary of the burning of Al-Aqsa Mosque.
Assem reported that while he was in the Malaka area east of Gaza City on Saturday afternoon, August 21, 2021 to cover a mass festival held there to commemorate the burning of Al-Aqsa Mosque, one of the Israeli soldiers on the other side of the separation fence fired a bullet that hit near him and exploded, causing two shrapnel to hit him in his upper lip, and one of his teeth was broken. He was taken to Al-Shifa Hospital, where one of the shrapnel was extracted from his lip, while the doctors were unable to extract the second one. He stayed in the hospital for three hours.
(27-8) The Israeli occupation forces arrested seven journalists after they were detained in the Masafer Yatta area, and beat a number of them, after covering a peaceful sit-in against settlements.
Abdel Mohsen Tayseer Shalaldeh (28 years), a photographer at J-Media Office for Media Services, stated that he and his colleagues: Mashhour Hassan Al-Wahwah, Wafa Agency correspondent, Raed Al-Sharif - Al-Ghad channel correspondent, Jamil Salhab - photographer for Al-Ghad channel, Sari Jaradat - freelance photographer, Ihab Al-Allami - cameraman for “Palestine Today” TV, and Khalil Thoib - cameraman for J-Media, arrived on Friday afternoo Umm Al-Shathan area in Masafer Yatta/ Hebron to cover the protest organized by the people there against confiscation their lands.
After the journalists finished covering the protest at about 1:00 pm, and while they were preparing to leave the place, an Israeli officer approached and detained them for an hour near one of the military jeeps that were in the same place. During this hour, one of the soldiers attacked the journalist Mashhour Al-Wahwah the correspondent of Wafa Agency and slapped him with his hand. Journalist Raed Al-Sharif tried to ask about the reason for the assault on his colleague, so he and his colleague Al-Alami were also beaten and pushed.
After that, the soldiers arrested the seven journalists and took them to the police station in “Kiryat Arba” settlement, where they were held for five hours without food or water. During that time, J-media photographer Abdel Mohsen Al-Shalaldeh fell sick, which led the army to call a Palestinian ambulance to transfer him to Al-Ahly Hospital in Hebron, where he received treatment for half an hour.
After 5 hours of detention, all the journalists were released, after they signed a personal pledge to return to the interrogation center, but after they signed a personal pledge to return to the investigation center on Sunday, August 29, 2021. The seven journalists went on time to the "Kiryat Arba" center, and after waiting hours, an officer listened to their statements for no more than ten minutes, and at about one o'clock in the afternoon of the same day, they were released. The three journalists who were beaten up submitted an official complaint against the assailant soldiers to the “Kiryat Arba” Investigation Center, which was transferred to the Israeli Military Police to be submitted for investigation at a later time and until the date of preparing this report they were not informed of anything procedures related to the complaint.
(28-8) Five journalists were severely suffocated by tear gas canisters while covering a night demonstration in the Malaka area near the separation fence at the Gaza Strip borders.
The journalist Hani Hammad Al-Shaer, 32 years, said that he was with about 15 journalists covering a press conference and a demonstration in the Malakah area, east of Al-Zaytoun neighborhood in Gaza, on Saturday, August 28, 2021 around eight in the evening, the conference was held about a kilometer away from the separation fence, and after it ended, demonstrators headed towards the border fence, and journalists accompanied them to cover that demonstration, and before they reached the border fence, about 400 meters away, the soldiers began firing tear gas canisters massively and directly at everyone, which resulted 5 journalists suffocated severely, so they received field aid from medical staff who were on the scene. The journalists are: journalist Ibrahim Abu Shaar - cameraman for the Iranian channel, photographer Hassan Asleh, Journalist Basil Hassan - producer at Al-Manara Company, Israa Al-Buhaisi - correspondent of the Iranian "Al-Alam" channel, and a fifth journalist whose identity is not known.