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MADA: Violations of media freedoms increased during November

Ramallah - 12/13/2021 The Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA) monitored and documented last November a total of (54) violations against media freedoms in Palestine, most of which were committed by the Israeli occupation forces, and all of them took place in the West Bank.

Compared to last October, during which 28 violations were documented, the rate of increase in the number of violations reached 92%, which constitutes a setback in the state of media freedoms when compared to the previous few months.

As documented in most of the previous months, the Israeli violations came to the fore in terms of numbers, types, and danger to media freedoms, where violence by the occupation forces against journalists and media freedoms increased, as happened with the media staff during their media coverage of the resistance operations in the city of Jerusalem, which led to a rise of the number of physical injuries as a result of targeting journalists in order to prevent coverage. This type of attack is considered one of the most dangerous types of violations, as it poses a threat to the lives of journalists.

The violations documented by MADA during the month of November were as follows: (39) were committed by Israeli parties, (8) were committed by Palestinian parties, and (7) were committed by Meta, which includes more than one social media application.

Israeli violations:

The number of Israeli violations against media freedoms increased during November, as MADA Center monitored and documented a total of (39) violations, compared to (19) violations that were monitored and documented during last October. Thus, Israeli violations constitute (72%) of the total number of violations.

The number of physical injuries and targeting to prevent coverage amounted (18) attacks, which is the highest number among other types of attacks. The Israeli policy, which aims to obscure the truth, was showed by preventing journalists from covering, and by keeping journalists and the media away from places where events are taking place. MADA Center documented a total of (16) violations of denial of coverage, most of which occurred in Jerusalem. As well as other types of violations, including the arrest and detention of three journalists.


Palestinian violations:

The increase in the number of Israeli violations was accompanied by an increase in Palestinian violations during the month of November. MADA Center monitored and documented a total of (8) violations against media freedoms in the West Bank committed by the Palestinian security services.

Palestinian violations amounted to 15% of the total violations during this month, although this percentage is low when compared to the percentage of Israeli violations, it is considered a major attack on media freedoms. The arrest of journalist Naseem Maalla by a joint Palestinian force is considered one of the most serious Palestinian violations during the past month, due to the torture and ill-treatment during this arrest. His detention continued for 21 days despite the issuance of a release decision in the first day of his arrest.


Social Media Violations:

Meta, the company that owns a number of social media applications, committed 7 violations against Palestinian journalists and media pages during the month of November. These violations is (13%) of the total violations against Palestinian media freedoms.

MADA monitored and documented a new procedure by social media networks during the past month, as these networks did not just close or permanently delete media pages, but also started closing the alternative pages on Facebook, as happened with the Al-Qastal network which is specialized in Jerusalem affairs, as the network alternative page was deleted from Facebook, as well the Instagram page. These measures confirm the continuation of Facebook's previous approach of bias against Palestinian content by responding to the occupation authorities’ demands, and closing the pages through which it is possible to expose its crimes.


Violation details:

(01/11) The Israeli intelligence service summoned the freelance journalist Bushra Jamal Al-Taweel (28 years), and subjected her to interrogation for two hours about her journalistic work.

Bushra told MADA Center that she received a phone call on Saturday, October 31, from the officer responsible for her file with the Israeli intelligence service, called "Captain Halabi" telling her to go to Ofer detention center the next day.

Journalist Bushra went to the Ofer detention center at 12:30 on Sunday 01/11, where she was searched and then remained in the waiting room for half an hour until she was entered into the interrogation room.

Bushra was investigated by Officer Halabi about her journalistic work and its impact on citizens through her posts on social media, and she was warned not to exceed her duties as a journalist, but Bushra answered that she is a journalist and photojournalist and covers various news on several topics, and this does not exceed the scope of her duties as a journalist. After two hours the interrogation ended and she left the place.

(04/11) A joint force of the Palestinian security services arrested the freelance journalist Naseem Ali Naseem Maalla (26 years) at 1:30 a.m. on Thursday 11/4 for a period of 21 days before releasing him on Thursday evening 25/11.

In his testimony to MADA Center, journalist Nassim said that a joint force of the Palestinian security forces stormed his house in the village of Beita, south of Nablus, confiscated his mobile phone and took him to the headquarters of the Preventive Security Service in Junaid Prison, where he was placed in a small cell and in poor conditions.

On the same day, journalist Naseem was presented to the prison officer who accused him of possessing a weapon, then to the Public Prosecution, which decided to extend his detention for five days, but the judge decided to release him on a financial bail of 500 Jordanian dinars.

After paying the bail, and while Naseem was on his way to leave the prison, the security forces arrested him again and brought him to the General Intelligence headquarters inside the prison, and he was re-detained in a cell in very bad conditions, where there is no water, electricity, or “toilet.”

On the next day - Friday - Naseem was sent to the headquarters of the intelligence service in the city of Nablus, where one of the officials interrogated him - he did not know his rank - and when Naseem asked him about his accusation and the reason for his arrest, he replied, "collecting and receiving money from illegal entities", so his detention was extended for 24 hours by the Public Prosecutor who decided to transfer him to the Rehabilitation and Correction Center in Jericho.

During the 16 days Naseem spent in Jericho prison (rehabilitation center), he was tortured, his hands were tied and his eyes were blindfolded. The interrogators accused him of belonging to and receiving money from Hamas, based on videos that Naseem had prepared and sold to another journalist - the occupation says he belongs to Hamas - for 500 shekels, an amount that the Israeli authorities considered illegal money.

Naseem remained in the cells of Jericho Prison until the end of the investigation, and was transferred to the prison rooms. He remained there until the court date, when the judge extended his detention for three days and to spend it in the General Intelligence prison in Jericho.

After that, he was transferred back to Junaid Prison in Nablus, where the judge released him from there without bail on 25/11.

(04/11) Meta company has taken unfair measures against the Qamat Foundation's page after it published a video about the life of Palestinian prisoner Zakaria al-Zubaidi, and other measures were taken against journalist Bakr Abdel Haq one of its editors,.

 Bakr Muhammad Abdul-Haq, (32 years) a journalist for Palestine TV in Nablus, , told MADA that Meta company has banned publication on Qamat's Facebook page for a month, since Thursday 4/11, after it deleted a documentary video about the life of Palestinian prisoner Zakaria al-Zubaidi.

On the same day, several measures were taken against the private page of the editor Abdelhak, after he shared the same video on his page: preventing him from creating or managing any pages for a period of 30 days, preventing him from publishing funded advertisements for a period of 30 days, and preventing him from broadcasting live for a period of 60 days, and stop commenting and publishing on his page for 24 hours. Note that the video does not contain any inflammatory material, and all it contains is information about the life of the Palestinian prisoner.

(07/11) The Israeli occupation forces arrested the freelance journalist Mujahid Hamdallah Mujahid Mardawi (29 years), from his family's house in Habla village near Qalqilya, and interrogated him for several hours.

Journalist Mardawi reported to MADA Center that a force of the occupation army stormed his parents’ house in the village of Habla at 5:30 a.m. on Sunday, and searched the house in a barbaric way looking for him, but they did not find him because he lives in another house. One of the soldiers called Mujahid from his brother phone and told him to come to his parents' house as soon as possible.

Mujahid went to his parents' house, and there he was blindfolded and handcuffed, and taken to an occupation army camp, about 15 minutes from his village.

Mujahid stayed for an hour and a half in a container inside the camp, after which a medical examination was conducted for him, and then he was taken to the Qalqilya crossing, and there he was interrogated for 10 minutes about his work as a journalist, then he was interrogated by an officer in the Shin Bet for an hour and a half about his studies, his previous work as a journalist and the period of his arrest the previous year. After the interrogation ended, his ID card was returned to him and he was released at two o'clock in the afternoon.

(07/11) Palestinian security forces intercepted journalist Abdullah Bahsh and obstructed his work and deleted the materials he mobile on his phone on Sunday while covering the demolition of a commercial complex by a decision of the municipality of Nablus.

In his testimony to MADA Center, journalist Abdullah Tayseer Rashid Hamed Bahsh (23 years), journalist for Quds News Network, said that he was at around 12:00 p.m. on Wednesday 10/11 to cover the demolition of the shopping complex in the city of Nablus due to legal violations, and after the owner of the land on which the complex is located requested the restoration of his land, but the implementation was postponed on that day until the municipality’s review.

Journalist Bahsh finished interviewing the citizens before the security services shows at the place, and after their presence journalist Bahsh explained to them that he is working for Al-Quds News Network and requested permission from the special police officer, and from the National Security officer to document the demolition process, but he was surprised by three members of the Preventive Security who came to him and asked for his ID and mobile phone and deleted all the materials on it and asked him to leave the place after taking a copy of his ID card.

(11/11) Palestinian Preventive Security forces detained journalist Mujahid Tabanja (22 years), the reporter for Palestine Post Agency, while he was covering the demolition of a commercial market in the city of Nablus on Thursday evening, 11/11.

The journalist Tabanja stated that he went at 12:30 a.m. to cover the demolition of the market in the city of Nablus, which had been previously ordered to be removed by the Nablus municipality, and upon his arrival, he asked one of the Preventive Security officers who was at the place for permission to take a video of the demolition operation, as the demolition was supposed to be broadcasted live.

After Tabanja started filming, another member of the Preventive Security approached him and asked him, what he is doing? And turned off the camera. Tabanja replied that he is a journalist and had asked for permission before starting filming, then the officer asked for his press card, but it was not with him, so the officer suspected that he was actually a journalist, especially since the first security officer denied giving him permission to film, and told him that he is arrested, and called a civilian car to take him to the Preventive Security headquarters in Nablus.

When the journalist Tabanja arrived at the headquarter, the security personnel treated him badly, but when they knew that he is a journalist, they treated him better, and asked him some routine questions such as where do you work and who is your manager? How much is your salary? When and why you were arrested?

The journalist was released at 12:30 p.m. the next day, but he did not receive the items confiscated from him upon his arrest (phone, mike, press vest, personal bag) and so far he has not been able to get it back, despite asking for it more than once.

(13/11) The Palestinian Intelligence Service summoned the journalist Salah Abu Hassan, the programs director at Alam Radio, and subjected him to interrogation for an hour about his work on the radio.

According to the testimony of Salah al-Din Adly Abu Hassan (39 years), to MADA Center, he received a phone call on Monday, 8/11/11 from the intelligence service in Hebron, inviting him for an interview on the same day, but he went for the interview a few days later due to his own circumstances.

On Saturday, 13/11, journalist Abu Hassan went to the headquarters of the Hebron Intelligence at 11:00 am, and met the intelligence officer, who began his investigation with a set of personal questions about Abu hassans life, work, and educational level, then moved on to ask questions about Radio Alam, its departments, its director, and political orientation.

The interview included questions and inquiries about the nature of the work, programs and topics covered by the radio. The officer sent a direct message to journalist Abu Hassan that it is not necessary to address all topics on the radio, but it is better to preserve the public interest, as the Palestinian society - as he put it - contains many religious differences and partisan pluralism. The journalist replied that maintaining civil peace is one of the radio's priorities.

In the end, the officer told journalist Abu Hassan that any journalist, regardless of his values ​​and status in society, can protect himself with his family and his work, but he cannot resist “speaking against” the government. The journalist replied that the radio's work is professional and does not aim to confront the government. Abu Hassan left the headquarters at 12:15 in the afternoon.


(17/11) The Israeli occupation police obstructed the work of Jerusalem journalists, during their media coverage of the killing of the Palestinian boy Omar Abu Asab in Al-Wad neighborhood in the Old City of Jerusalem at six o'clock on Wednesday evening.

Freelance photographer Ibrahim Kamal Hamad "Al-Sanglawi" (27 years), told MADA Center that he went to Al-Wad neighborhood in Jerusalem on Wednesday evening wearing a journalist's uniform and carrying his camera, after receiving news that there were incidents in the place..

When he began filming the events, a police officer approached him and prevented him from filming despite identifying himself as a journalist. The policeman also obliged him and his colleague, photographer Nasser Abdel-Gawad Saleh Hamayel, who also works as a producer for APC News, to move 150m away to cover the event. When the two journalists tried to get around from another entrance, they were banned, as one of the Israeli officers came and pushed them hard to keep them away from the place.

(20/11) The occupation forces targeted the cameraman of the Quds News Network, Mutassim Samir Saqf Al-Hait (31 years), with tear gas canisters in the foot and back, during the storming of the Al-Rihan suburb in Ramallah at dawn on Saturday.

The photographer, Saqf Al-Hait, told MADA Center that he was near Surda Mosque in the village of Surda, after the confrontations between the youths and the occupation army forces extended there, after they withdrew from Dahiyat Al-Rehan and arrested one of its residents. While the journalist was covering the confrontations wearing a press uniform, he was targeted by the occupation soldiers with tear gas canisters from a distance of 20 meters, despite his shouting that he is a journalist and doing his job. The soldiers did not care and hit him by two gas canisters, one in his back and the other in his right foot. This caused his helmet to fall off his head, which was confiscated by the soldiers.

(11/21) Soldiers of the Israeli occupation forces beat and obstructed the work of a group of female journalists while they were covering the police storming of the house of martyr Fadi Abu Shkhaydim in Shuafat refugee camp in Jerusalem on Sunday 21/11.

Journalist Bara’a Nidal Abu Ramoz, (24 years), who works as a journalist for the Maydan Al-Qud News Network, stated that she was with a group of female journalists, who are (Maysa Abu Ghazaleh Ma’an News Network reporter, journalist Renad Al-Sharbati, and journalist Liwa Abu Rumaila) on Sunday afternoon at the home of Martyr Fadi Abu Shkhaydim in the town of Shuafat, and after conducting interviews with the martyr's family and relatives, an Israeli security unit (Yamam) stormed the house.

Bara’a added that while documenting what was going on, one of the soldiers of the unit hit the mobile phone of her hand, and beat her with his hand and foot, and knocked her to the ground, where he managed to confiscate her phone, and when she tried to retrieve the phone from him, he grabbed her by the neck and threw her on the ground, and returned the phone to her, but after he deleted the videos on it. Journalist Renad Sharbati was also beaten with hands and feet by a soldier.

The soldiers brought the four female journalists, after assaulting two of them, into the martyr's house and detained them in one room with the martyr's family to prevent covering the events. After that, the soldier asked those who did not live in the building to leave the place, so the female journalists got out and left the place around two in the afternoon.

(11/21) META Company permanently closed the "Maydan Al-Quds News Network face book page, following its coverage of news about the martyr Fadi Abu Shkhaydim.

Journalist Bara'a Abu Ramoz, a journalist working for the Maydan Al-Quds News Network, stated that four alerts arrived on the page on Sunday stating that the page violated Facebook's standards, after the page published four videos about the martyr, including a video of a child crying for the martyr Fadi Abu Shkhaydim, describing him as the best teacher, in addition to a video containing an interview with the martyr's mother, and another one introducing him.

Based on the above, the page organizers created an alternative page for the Network, which was also deleted on 11/30.

(11/21) META Company has deleted the Facebook page of the Al-Qastal Network, which specializes in Jerusalem affairs, after covering the news of the martyrdom Fadi Abu Shkhaydim, as a result of several reports against the page.

Journalist Ayman Faisal Qawariq, (35 years), who works for the Qastal network, told MADA Center that five reports had been received against the Qastal network's page on Sunday evening, after the page covered the news of the martyr Abu Shkhaydim. After that, the page that followed by one million followers receives a message stating that it has been permanently deleted on the pretext of violating Facebook's policy and standards. Although an alternative page has been created, META has also deleted it nine days after its creation.

(26/11) META, the company that owns a number of social media platforms, has deleted the “Maydan Al-Quds News Network” page on Instagram.

Journalist Bara'a Nidal Abu Ramoz (24 years) stated that many warnings were received to the page on Instagram after it published pictures of the martyr Fadi Abu Shkhaydim, which led to its permanent closure at 4:30 pm on Friday, 26/11.

However, the page management contacted Instagram and submitted an objection to the page’s deletion, justifying the publication of the martyr’s photos and news as daily news from a news page, so the page management was able to restore the deleted page on Saturday 27/11 provided that the page does not violate the application’s policy and standards. Instagram also deleted six old posts from the page and five posts related to the martyr's news.

(11/26) The occupation forces targeted a group of journalists while covering the popular weekly protest on Sabeeh Mountain in the village of Beita, south of Nablus. As a result, two journalists were injured by rubber bullets and another journalist suffocated.

Bakr Muhammad Abd al-Haq, (32 years), reported that a group of journalists were present on Sabeeh Mountain in the village of Beita, covering the weekly protest against confiscation of mountain lands for the purpose of settlement construction. The protest began at 11:30 p.m., with the presence of the journalists, but with no presence of the occupation soldiers.

after 12:00, occupation forces came and began to suppress the Palestinians present there, including the journalists, with sound bombs, gas and rubber bullets, which led to the injury of journalist Bakr Abdel Haq with a rubber bullet from a distance of 10 meters in the left shoulder, and Quds News Network reporter Naglaa Anwar Zaitoun (35 years), with a rubber bullet in the left thigh. The two journalists' injuries were minor, so they received field treatment by the medical staff present at the scene and left immediately. Also, journalist Abdullah Rashid Bahsh (23 years), suffocated for several minutes as a result of inhaling tear gas, and received field treatment by the medical staff present at the place.

(27/11) The Israeli occupation forces detained the freelance journalist Nidal Natsheh and the activist Issa Amr for nearly two hours, and obstructed their work while they were in the Tel Rumeida area in Hebron city to prepare a report about the ongoing attacks against the Palestinian people there by settlers and occupation army soldiers.

Journalist Nidal Asmar Natsheh, (33 years), stated that he went with activist Issa Amr at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, 27/11 to the Tel Rumeida area in Hebron city to conduct interviews in order to prepare a press report with the Palestinian living there, who are constantly exposed to provocations by settlers. After entering the area, a group of six settler children, no more than 14 years old, came and started insulting and provoking them and closing the camera lens with their hands, and threatening that they would call the police or the army.

After a few minutes, two soldiers came to them claiming that they beat the settlers. The journalist Al-Natsheh replied that what happened was the opposite, and that he filmed the settlers as they assaulted and provoked them, and that they - the journalist Al-Natsheh and the activist Amr - called the Israeli police to stop their harassment, but the police refused to come. So the soldier told them that they are forbidden to be in the area because it is a Jewish neighborhood, and he also tried to prevent them from completing their work, but they continued filming to prepare the report, then the soldier told them “You are detained and wanted by the Shin Bet,” so he confiscated their ID cards, and detained them for two hours.

(11/28) The Israeli occupation forces beat, pushed and prevented coverage on a group of journalists on Sunday morning while they were covering a peaceful sit-in organized by people living in the area near Al Luban Al Sharqiah village, south of Nablus, to protest against the settlers' continuous harassment of school students in that area.

Quds News Network correspondent Abdullah Rashid Bahash, (23 years), told MADA that a group of journalists were present at about 7:30 a.m. on Sunday in the al-Lubban al-Sharqiya village in the city of Nablus to cover the peaceful sit-in organized and called to by the municipalities of al-Lubban and Salfit to protest against settlers continuous harassment which prevent school students from going to their schools freely. However, the occupation forces, who came to the site at 8:30 am, started firing stun grenades at all those present, including journalists. All journalists were assaulted, pushed, and prevented from covering.

Journalist Bahsh was hit with a rifle in the chest and pushed, while Wafa Agency reporter Khaled Badir was hit on his stomac. Journalist Tariq Youssef Surkaji suffocated as a result of inhaling gas, and one of the soldiers punched Palestine TV reporter Bakr Abdel Haq and Wafa Agency reporter Ayman Nubani on their faces. The demonstration ended at ten in the morning and everyone leaves the place.

Attacks that obstructed work and prevented coverage included journalists: (AFP photographer Jaafar Shtayyeh, journalist Mahmoud Zakarneh, Anadolu Agency photographer Hisham Abu Shakra, Shadia Bani Shamsieh - Palestine Post website photographer, journalist Shadi Jarraeh, journalist Raghad Qasrawi, Iranian TV reporter Khaled Sabarneh).

(29/11) The Israeli occupation forces attacked with tear gas canisters a group of journalists while they were covering the settlers’ storming of Joseph’s Tomb area in the city of Nablus

J-media photographer Laith Bassem J’aar, (25 years), said that a group of journalists: Mahmoud Fawzi, photographer of Everest Agency, reporter of the Palestine Post Agency, Mujahid Muawiya Tabanja (22 years), Quds Network reporter Abdullah Bahsh (23 years), headed at. 10:15 p.m. on Monday to cover the settlers’ storming into Joseph’s Tomb, where a number of occupation army vehicles were present, working to secure the settlers.

After the clashes broke out and the army fired tear gas canisters at the citizens, journalists who were standing far from the citizens and the army and wearing press uniforms were targeted with tear gas canisters, which led to their suffocation. Journalist Laith, was hit by a bomb directly in his back and several bombs fell next to him, causing him suffocated greatly, so he was taken to the Red Crescent ambulance, where he received treatment for an hour.

(30/11) The Israeli occupation forces arrested freelance journalist Sabri Jibril from his house, took him to an unknown destination, and interrogated him before releasing him hours later.

Journalist Sabri Musa Jibril, (30 years), told MADA Center that an occupation force stormed his house in the town of Taqow’, east of Bethlehem, at 4:30 a.m. on Tuesday, in a barbaric way, without searching the house, then he was arrested, blindfolded and handcuffed.

Sabri was transferred to a destination he couldn’t know, and remained blindfolded and handcuffed until nine o’clock in the morning, after which he was transferred to the Rachel’s Dome Center at the northern entrance to the city of Bethlehem, or as it is called “Barrier 300.” He stayed there for one hour until the Israeli officer came to interrogate him.

During the investigation, the officer told the journalist that he deliberately arrested him from the house and did not summon him by phone because he was practicing incitement - according to him - through his posts on the Facebook page, and that he should monitor his actions. The journalist replied that he only does his journalistic work and publishes news. The officer told him that he knows journalistic work more than him, and warned him not to continue incitement so he won't be arrested.