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MADA: Condemns the Systematic Israeli Campaign against Media Freedoms in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip

Ramallah – Oct. 20th, 2023. The Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA) expresses its deep concern over the various violations to which media freedoms have been exposed in Palestine since the beginning of this month, that is, since the beginning of the Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip. Such violations aim only to silence free voices that express the injustice practiced by the occupation forces against Palestinian citizens throughout Palestine.

In conjunction with the crimes and atrocities committed by the occupation forces against civilian citizens in the Gaza Strip, including journalists, and targeting the media outlets and media freedoms in the Gaza Strip with the most horrific violations. Its organized campaign also began against the media and journalists in the West Bank to prevent them from standing by the people of the Strip under the current circumstances which can only be expressed as a clear targeting of repression against civilians and media freedoms alike.

In addition to the 14 martyred journalists who were killed since the beginning of the aggression against the Gaza Strip, on Thursday, Al-Aqsa TV cameraman KHALIL ABU ATHRAH, was martyred as a result of an Israeli bombing that targeted him and his brother in the Al-Nasr neighborhood area north of Rafah, and journalist HAZEM BIN SAEED, who was targeted by the occupation warplanes which killed him in his house east of Deir al-Balah, in addition to the martyrdom of SAMIH AL-NADI, who works as a director at Al-Aqsa Channel, and the martyrdom of journalist at “Al-Shabab Radio” MUHAMMAD ABU ALI this Friday morning as a result of the bombing of the occupation warplanes on the northern Gaza Strip. Thus, bringing the number of martyrs of the media movement during the current aggression against the Gaza Strip to 18 martyrs, in addition to two journalists whose whereabouts are still unknown.

Moreover, the occupation authorities and forces have intensified their campaign against media freedoms in the West Bank, tightening their grip on them by closing some media institutions such as the “J-Media” Agency, which the occupation army suddenly closed several days ago, under the pretext that this decision is in the interest of the State’s security and to maintain public order. This decision was followed by the Israeli government’s approval this morning, Friday, October 20, to close Al Jazeera’s office in Israel, after the Israeli Minister of Communications submitted a request to the government to allow the closure of Al Jazeera’s broadcast on the pretext of encouraging violence and harming the security of the State, indicating that “the regulations that approved by the government will allow the closure of channels, the confiscation of equipment, and the cancellation of the credentials of journalists who harm the security of the State.” Which may herald a greater unleashing of its hand against media institutions and the closure of more of them.

In the same context of targeting journalists, the occupation forces escalated their attacks against West Bank journalists by pursuing and arresting them, in an attempt to silence the many voices calling for an end to the aggression against the Gaza Strip, including the media professionals who cover this aggression. Therefore, since the beginning of the month, the arrest campaign has targeted: the director of the “J-Media” Agency, journalist ALAA AL-RIMAWI, the correspondent of the same Agency, journalist SABRI JIBRIL, the photojournalist MOATH AMARNEH, who works for the same Agency, in addition to the arrest of the Al-Aqsa TV correspondent, MUSTAFA AL-KHAWAJA, and the journalist IMAD ABU AWAD, correspondent of “Sanad” Agency, MUSAB QAFISHA, director of “Space Media” company for journalistic media production, THAER AL-FAKHOURI.

In light of the extremely dangerous situation in which our people in the Gaza Strip are living, and in light of all the previous attacks targeting media freedoms in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, MADA Center emphasizes that all these violations carried out by the occupation authorities with the aim of silencing the voices of truth are under false pretexts and will not dissuade journalists and media institutions to continue their message, and “MADA” Center demands the following:

First: The need for international action to stop the blatant aggression against Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip, and the need to stop targeting journalists with murder and all other attacks, neutralize them from various conflicts, provide them with protection, and facilitate their missions to carry out their work freely, as they are civilians protected under international law.

Second: The need for the Israeli government to retract its decisions to close the “J-Media” Agency and close the broadcast of the “Al Jazeera” channel, due to its clear infringement on media freedoms in circumstances in which it is most dire to cover various events and transmit them to all parts of the world.

Third: MADA Center calls on the international community to put pressure on the Israeli government to release all journalists detained in Israeli prisons, due to the psychological and physical assaults that follow these arrests, and to stop persecuting them and the necessity of activating Security Council Resolution No. (2222) issued since 2015 regarding the protection of journalists.