Ramallah – 9th August 2022 July has witnessed a relative decline in the number of violations committed against media freedoms in Palestine compared to those committed during May and June when a rise was recorded (64 and 44 respectively).
During July, the Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA) documented a total of 27 violations committed against media freedoms all of which have taken place in the West Bank, 23 of which were committed by the Israeli Occupation, while 4 were committed by various Palestinian authorities across the West Bank.
It is believed that the reason for the decline in the total number of violations documented during July is attributed to the lack of field events and incidents witnessed across the West Bank during this month compared to the preceding months. Despite the drop in the events and incidents, the number of some Israeli violations has risen significantly, e.g., coverage ban.
During July, the Israeli Occupation committed 23 violations against media freedoms in Palestine, all of which took place in the West Bank, constituting a rate of 85% of the overall violations committed during this month. Three of the said violations were physical injuries of Palestine TV cameraman FADI YASEEN “who suffocated with gas”, the freelance journalist IBRAHIM ATTA with a rubber bullet in the left leg, and the freelance journalist ABDELMAJEED ODWAN with a rubber-coated metal bullet in his head causing him minor burns.
Furthermore, the occupation forces banned 14 journalists from covering two separate events in Salfit. As they obstructed the arrival/access of seven journalists to the demolition of two houses of prisoners that have taken place in Qarawa Bani Hassan. They further banned seven journalists to cover a peaceful march arranged by the citizens of Harris Village. In the same event, the occupation soldiers targeted ROYA TV reporter with sound bombs to stop his live broadcast on TV.
The occupation forces also prevented TRT Arabi TV reporter, MAJDOLEEN HASSOUNAH, to travel to her workplace in Turkey, and prevented as well the freelance journalist MUJAHED ALSAADI to travel through Al-Karamah Crossing to Jordan and questioned him on the reason he is traveling.
The number of Palestinian violations committed during July declined by 50% compared to those committed during June. The Palestinian violations committed were limited to four violations, all of which were committed in the West Bank, constituting a rate of 15% of the overall violations committed during the month. It is worth noting that MADA documented eight Palestinian violations during June.
The Palestinian violations included: summoning and questioning followed by arrest and release on the same day of journalist THAER ALFAKHOURI, the field questioning of the freelance journalist MUJAHED ALSAADI while he was traveling through Al-Karamah Crossing, and the incitement against the Head of J-Media Network Alaa Alrimawi by the Palestinian security services in many ways and for several times.
Details of Violations:
(8th July) Palestine TV cameraman FADI YASEEN suffocated and received field treatment due to inhaling gas while he was covering the weekly event against settlement taking place in Bayt Dajan, eastern Nablus, on Friday.
Palestine TV cameraman, FADI ABDELRAHEEM IBRAHIM YASEEN, (42 years old), stated to MADA, that he, along with a group of journalists namely (Journalist MAHMOUD FAWZI, QUDS Network reporter ABDULLAH BAHSH, and WAFA cameraman AYMAN NOBANI) were covering an event in Bayt Dajan arranged against settlement and marking the 55th anniversary of the Palestinian Popular Struggle Front.
FADI, along with a group of demonstrators and a number of journalists, was standing too close to the occupation soldiers who started firing gas grenades at everyone. In the meantime, the journalists retreated except for FADI who was standing between the demonstrators and occupation soldiers so he can take pictures of the soldiers’ assaults against the demonstrators during the event.
In the meantime, FADI suffocated with gas even though he was wearing the face mask. With great difficulty, he retreated until his colleagues had access to him and helped to get to an ambulance where he received the necessary treatment for ten minutes.
(19th July) A force of the occupation army arrested the journalist working for “QUDS PRESS” Agency, AMER ABDELHALEEM ABU ARAFAH, (37 years old), after raiding his house in Dayr Samet Village, Hebron, at dawn, on Tuesday, corresponding 19th July.
His brother, MOHAMMED, reported that a force of the occupation army, totaling to 40 soldiers, raided the house of journalist AMER in Dayr Samet, Hebron, at dawn, on Tuesday.
They entered the house, forced his wife and children into one of the rooms, then they thoroughly and savagely searched the house for two hours while questioning AMER in the field.
They also seized a sum of 23,000 NIS that was withdrawn by AMER from the Bank as a payment for a car he is purchasing. Then they retreated after arresting AMER.
A trial session was held for AMER a week after his arrest, on 26th July, in Ofer Court, attended by the journalist AMER through video conference as the occupation claimed they “forgot to bring him”.
The journalist was accused of incitement on Facebook through his media posts, while the Israeli Shin Bet demanded that he be transferred to administrative detention on the background of a series of reports and press interviews he conducted with leaders of various Palestinian factions. The trial was adjourned to the first of August.
(20th July) The Israeli Occupation Intelligence arrested the freelance journalist FAISAL EIZAR YOUSEF ALRIFAI, (36 years old) after he went for an investigation in Ofer detention center on Wednesday 20th July in response to a summons the Intelligence handed over to his family at dawn on Wednesday.
His father reported that a force of the occupation army and its intelligence raided the house of his son, journalist FAISAL, in Anata, northeast Jerusalem, at 3:00AM, at dawn, on Wednesday, corresponding to 20th July but he wasn’t there and gave his father a written summons to appear before the Occupation Intelligence at 8:00AN, on the same day.
The journalist indeed went to Ofer Prison at 11:00PM and he was arrested and referred to “Etzion” Prison.
On Sunday, corresponding to 24th July, the occupation authorities held his trial in Ofer Court and asked the Prosecution to refer him to administrative detention for six months. However, the hearing was adjourned to Wednesday 27th July. On the second hearing, FAISAL appeared but the ruling was not pronounced.
(21st July) The Palestinian Intelligence Service in Hebron arrested the journalist THAER ZIAD ALFAKHOURI, (32 years old), on Thursday, after summoning him for the second time on the same day. He remained in detention for hours until he was released in the middle of the night.
ALFAKHOURI, who works for “QUDS PRESS”, and who is also a partner in “Space Media” Company reported that he received a phone call from Hebron Intelligence Service, on Wednesday, corresponding to 20th July, and the caller, who introduced himself in the name “ABU KHALIL”, asked him to come to the Service headquarters at 10:00AM on the following day.
At the said time, he indeed went to the headquarters and was questioned about his journalistic work, especially about “The Hidden is More Immense” series for which the journalist THAER filmed a couple of interviews based upon the request of Al-Jazeera TV. He was also questioned about the news agencies he worked for.
Upon the end of the questioning, he was asked to sign his statement, but he refused to do so when he read that it said he belongs to Hamas when in fact he did not state this. After an altercation between him and the investigator, they allowed him to leave at 12:00 PM, without signing the statement.
THAER returned to his work at “Space Media” and immediately received a phone call from the same investigator who asked him to come back again to sign the statement provided the part about his belonging to Hamas is removed.
THAER arrived the Intelligence headquarters for the second time on the same day at 12:30 PM, the moment he arrived, he was taken to the Investigation section and stayed for an hour and a half in the cell. Another investigator came and took him to his office and asked him to explain the details of what happened between him and the investigator in the morning. After THAER explained what had happened, the investigator asked him: “Did you, in any way, assaulted the investigator after the completion of the investigation?” THAER answered No.
During the arrest hours, the journalist THAER was subject to six successive questioning session. All of the questions revolved around his relationship with his colleague journalists, his journalistic work for “QUDS PRESS”, his former work for “Quds TV”, where he gets his salary from, his work for Hebron Municipality, and why does he criticize the Authority on social media. He was also questioned about Hebron Municipality elections, whom he elected, and why. He was further questioned about his previous arrests by the occupation authorities.
The investigator asked THAER again if there was a problem between him and the investigator who questioned him in the morning as the latter claimed that THAER threatened him saying “I am Hamas, and will step on you”. THAER categorically denied he said that.
“ABU FUAD”, the Head of Investigation Section, informed the journalist that they do not have files for him. However, it became clear that there are conflicting internal contradictions about keeping THAER in custody or releasing him. Therefore, THAER was transferred to the Medical Services to have the necessary checks done for him. He was then returned to the Intelligence Services, and handed over his belongings in preparation to proceed with the arrest process. In the meantime, THAER announced he is on a food strike.
At 12:30AM, the Head of Investigation Section told THAER that he will be talking to the Head of Service as there is no reason to keep him in detention at the service headquarters. A few minutes later, he informed him that he will be released but must stop his food strike. He also told him that his father is waiting for him outside. Then he was indeed released.
(23rd July) The journalist ALAA ALRIMAWI was subject to incitement and murder threats in various ways and several times after he condemned the attempt of assassinating the former Deputy Prime Minister Dr. NASSER ALDEEN ALSHAER and the relevant news.
The Head of J-Media Network, the coordinator and reporter of Al-Jazeera Live, ALAA HASSAN JAMIL ALRIMAWI, (43 years old) reported to MADA that there were threats of murdering him shared via WhatsApp groups for the Palestinian Security Services after he posted a condemnation of the attempted assassination of Dr. NASSER ALDEEN ALSHAER that he was subject to in Kafr Qallil, southern Nablus, on 22nd July.
ALRIMAWI had access to these threats on WhatsApp via one of his relatives who is a member of these groups and works for the Security Services. One of the messages read “It’s now time for ALAA, and he must be handled”.
A lot of Facebook pages for the Palestinian Security Services also included many inciting and threatening explicit comments against ALRIMAWI.
Furthermore, ALRIMAWI reported that he received many oral messages through his relatives that he must keep quiet as the incitement against him is beyond control and that some of the security officers have protected him more than once and prevented others to shoot him.
(24th July) The freelance journalist IBRAHIM ATTA was injured with a rubber-coated metal bullet in the left leg fired at him by one of the occupation soldiers while he was covering the raiding of the occupation forces to Deir Abu Masha’al Village, western Ramallah, on Sunday morning, corresponding to 24th July.
The freelance journalist IBRAHIM AYOUB ATTA, (27 years old), reported to MADA that he was covering the raiding of the occupation forces to his village in Deir Abu Masha’al, western Ramallah, at 10:00AM, as there were clashes between the Palestinians and the occupation soldiers which involved firing sound bombs, gas grenades, and rubber bullets at the demonstrators.
At around 10:45AM, the journalist IBRAHIM was injured with a rubber bullet in his left leg while covering the clashes. He was then transferred via a private vehicle to Bayt Rima Emergency Center where he received the necessary treatment as his wound was stitched seven stitches.
(25th July) The occupation authorities banned TRT Arabi TV reporter, MAJDOLEEN HASSOUNAH, to travel to Turkey as the occupation intelligence returned her at Al-Karamah Crossing and asked her to appear before the Intelligence headquarters in her area.
MAJDOLEEN RIDA HASSOUNAH (32 years old) reported to MADA that several months ago, she checked her name and found that the travel ban is lifted as it was imposed on her three years ago. She also made sure it was true after she contacted the DCO that confirmed to her that she is only banned to enter the Israeli territories and that her travel ban is lifted.
On Monday, the journalist MAJDOLEEN headed to Al-Karama Crossing with the aim of traveling to Turkey. She arrived at the Israeli side at about 11:00 AM and handed over her passport. She waited for two hours, after which one of the officers told her that she was banned from traveling. She asked him to make sure again, and he came back and told her, after waiting another two hours, that the decision was confirmed and that she should check it with the Israeli intelligence in her area.
(26th July) The Israeli occupation authorities banned the freelance journalist MUJAHED ALSAADI to travel on Tuesday to Jordan through Al-Karamah Crossing and detained him for five hours in addition to questioning him in the field before informing him of the travel ban decision.
The freelance journalist MUJAHED MOHAMMED ALSAADI (35 years old) reported to MADA, that on Tuesday morning, corresponding to 25th July, he crossed Al-Karamah Crossing heading to Jordan and when he arrived the Israeli side at 09:00 AM, he handed over his passport, and the soldiers told him to rest. He waited about three hours, after which an intelligence officer came and questioned him about the amount of money he had, where he works, where he is heading and to whom, what is the expected duration of his stay in Jordan, when was the last time he was arrested by the Israeli authorities, and how long was he detained for.
He then waited for two hours until his passport was given back to him, and the soldiers informed him that he is travel banned.
(26th July) The Palestinian Intelligence questioned the freelance journalist MUJAHED MOHAMMED ALSAADI (35 years old) while he was at Al-Karama crossing on his way to travel to Jordan for five minutes on Tuesday morning.
When the journalist MUJAHED arrived the Palestinian side at the crossing at about 08:00AM in the morning, the Palestinian intelligence questioned him for no more than five minutes about his destination, what he does for living, and if anyone was with him, before he moved to the Israeli side at the crossing.
(26th July) The occupation soldiers obstructed the arrival of a group of journalists to the village of Qarawah Bani Hassan, west of Salfit, for several hours, and prevented them from reaching the area of demolishing the homes of the prisoners YAHYA MARIE and YOUSEF ASSI, on Monday evening.
Al-Ghad TV reporter KHALED SALEH BUDAIR (33 years old) stated that he and a group of journalists, namely (the cameraman NASSER ISHTAYYA, the cameraman HAZEM NASSER, MAAN TV reporter RAED OMAR, the TV cameraman AYMAN ALIWI, Quds News Network reporter ABDULLAH BAHSH, MUJAHID TABANJA, MAHMOUD FAWZY) at about 10:00PM, on Monday 25th July to the village of Qarawa Bani Hassan, west of Salfit, where information was received stating that the occupation intends to demolish the house of the two prisoners, YAHYA MARIE and YOUSEF ASSI.
Journalists continued to travel through bypass roads in an attempt to reach the demolition area, and each time they were prevented from passing despite wearing press uniforms until 03:00AM in the morning on Wednesday when the occupation soldiers allowed them to stand at a point far from the vicinity of the demolition area, which hindered their work for long hours.
(27th July) The occupation soldiers targeted the reporter of Roya TV, HAFIZ SABRA, with two sound bombs fired at him. The soldiers also obstructed the work of a group of journalists and prevented them from covering the peaceful march arranged by the residents of Hares Village, Salfit, on Wednesday.
Roya TV reporter, HAFEZ SABRA, (34 years old), stated to MADA, that a group of journalists were present at 4:30PM, on Wednesday, covering a march arranged by the residents of Haris village, northwest of Salfit, against settlements at the invitation of the Settlement and Wall Resistance Commission, where the occupation soldiers closed Ariel main street to prevent the arrival of the demonstrators.
The journalist HAFIZ SABRA was located no more than two meters behind the Israeli military jeep at the entrance to Haris village and refused to stand with the rest of the journalists who were forced by the soldiers to stand near the demonstrators and prevented them from covering the march.
The soldiers assaulted journalist HAFIZ by pushing him and asking him to stand next to his fellow journalists several times, but he did not comply. At approximately 5:30, the occupation soldiers targeted him during the live broadcast with two sound bombs that were fired directly at him to drive him away from the location, but they did not injure him.
It is noteworthy that all the journalists who were present were prevented from covering despite wearing the press uniform, and they are (WISAM HAJOUJ, Roya TV cameraman, MOHAMMED TURKMAN, JAFAR ISHTAYA, NIDAL ISHTAYA, NASSER ISHTAYA, the cameraman MOHAMMED HAMDAN and ZAHER ABU HUSSEIN, from the Commission for the Resistance of the Wall and Settlement, IMAD ISAID and SALEH HAMAD from AP Agency).
(29th July) The freelance journalist ABDELMAJID ODWAN was injured by a rubber-coated metal bullet slightly in the head while covering the weekly march in Kafr Qadoum, eastern Qalqilya, on Friday.
Journalist ABDELMAJID MOHAMMED ODWAN (32 years old) stated to MADA that since 11:00PM he was in Kafr Qadoum to cover the weekly march that takes place on Friday every week in protest against the continuous violations against the people of the town and to demand the opening of the closed main street leading to the village.
The gathering of citizens began at about 1:00PM after Friday prayer, and direct clashes began between the citizens and the occupation soldiers, and during these clashes, the soldiers fired sound and gas bombs and rubber-coated rubber bullets.
At about 1:30PM, ODWAN sustained minor burns to his head as a result of a rubber-coated metal bullet touching his head, causing minor burns. He received field treatment in an ambulance and then continued covering the event.