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Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (mada)

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Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA)

Monthly Report: Violations of Media Freedoms in the oPt

Summary – December 2010: 19 violations against Palestinian journalists.

The Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA) has monitored 19 violations against journalists in the occupied Palestinian territories in the past month, 16 of which were against journalists, with the remaining against their property. These incidents, committed by the Israeli occupation forces and the Palestinian security services in West Bank and Gaza Strip, are in clear violation of the right to freedom of expression under both Palestinian Basic Law and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:

Every person shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and expression, and shall have the right to publish his opinion orally, in writing, or in any form of art, or through any other form of expression, provided that it does not contradict with the provisions of law” - Article 19, Palestinian Basic Law

Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless frontiers” - Article 19, Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Compared with the last two months, the violations against journalists were average in number for 2010, where MADA monitored 20 and 19 consecutive violations in October and November. Compared with figures from last year, incidents of media violations have more than doubled this winter, with a total of 7 reported violations in December of 2009.

Palestinian Security Service Violations and Updates:

  • The Al-Jazeera English crew were detained by government police in the Gaza Strip.

  • Palestine Public TV’s correspondent Fouád Jaradeh was summoned for investigation by the Internal Security Service and questioned whilst blindfolded for 7 hours.

  • A’lam radio presenter Samer Ruweishid was arrested by the Palestinian Intelligence Services in Hebron city; he remains in custody.

  • Quds TV program coordinator Nawaf Al-Amer was repeatedly summoned for investigation by the Palestinian Preventative Service in Nablus city.

  • Quds TV correspondent Mamdouh Hamamreh and cameraman Akram Alnatshe were arrested following a raid on The Pal Media agency’s headquarters in Hebron.

  • Quds TV correspondent Mamdouh Hamamreh and Pal Media cameraman Abdul Ghane Natshe were followed and apprehended by the Palestinian Preventative Service following a report on Christmas celebrations in Bethlehem.

  • Columnist Ala’ Rimawi was released by the Palestinian Security Service in West Bank on the 12th of December after 42 days of detention.

  • Freelance journalist Sami Alási was released by the Palestinian Security Service in West Bank on the 21st of December after 23 days of detention.

Israeli Occupation Forces Violations and Updates:

  • A’lam radio presenter Samer Rweishid was summoned for interrogation about his new job by the Israeli Intelligence Service.

  • Alhayat Aljadedah newspaper photographer Muheeb Barghouti and Palestine Public TV cameraman Najeeb Sharawneh were prevented from covering the events of the weekly Nabi Saleh march near Ramallah by Israeli forces.

  • Al-Quds newspaper photographer Mahmud A’lian was beaten by Israeli forces during his coverage of a solidarity march to Qalandia checkpoint.

  • Israeli settlers damaged the tires of vehicles belonging to Reuters, Pal Media agency, and the photographer of a French agency Nasser Al-Shoukhi in Hebron.

Details of PA Violations in the West Bank and Gaza:

Police of the dismissed government in Gaza detained the Al-Jazeera English crew: “news producer Sami Ziyara, correspondent Nicole Jonson, cameraman Maher Abu Quta, and the cameraman assistant Rami Masóud”. The incident took place on the 5th of December while the crew were covering a protest against the closure of the Sharek Youth Forum by the Internal Security Service in Gaza. Ziyara told MADA that while they were covering the event, police approached them and took them to the police station, they were questioned about their work and their cameras were confiscated. The journalists were released after an hour and a half of interrogation.

The Internal Security Service of the Al-Ansar area in the Gaza Strip summoned Palestine Public TV correspondent Fouád Jaradeh for interrogation. The incident took place on Wednesday the 8th of December. Jaradeh went to the headquarters of the Internal Security at 9:00 am, and was questioned until 4:00 pm while he was blindfolded, he was released at 5:00 pm. Jaradeh had been previously summoned by the Security Service on the 29th of November, and denied accusations of reporting according to the direction of outside political parties.

The Palestinian Intelligence Service arrested Radio A’lam presenter Samer Ruweished in Hebron city in West Bank. Members of the intelligence service came to Ruweished’s family home in military and civilian cars at approximately 8:30 pm on Wednesday the 8th of December. Attending officers asked for the whereabouts of Ruweished, and were informed that he was in his apartment near his place of work, and they began searching the house. When Ruweished’s brother requested to see the search warrant, the intelligence servicemen refused and stated ‘no, and we do what we want’. They continued to search the house and confiscated some of Ruweished’s collectables. Following the search the Intelligence Service officers then proceeded to arrest Ruweished at his apartment. His sister reported that her brother is still being detained on the charge of incitement, and that the family know no more details about his incarceration or trial.

The Ruweished house raid and the procedure of his arrest by the Intelligence Service are illegal under civilian law, which states that in accordance of Article 11 of the Palestinian Basic Law:

Every arrested person shall be informed of the reasons for his arrest or detention. He shall be promptly informed, in a language he understands, of the nature of the charges brought against him. He shall have the right to contact a lawyer and to be tried without delay”.

The search of private property without a court order is also illegal in accordance to Article 17 of the same law:

Homes shall be inviolable; thus, they shall not be subject to surveillance, entrance or search, except in accordance with a valid judicial order, and in accordance with the provisions of law. Any consequences resulting from violations of this article shall be considered invalid. Individuals who suffer from such violation shall be entitled to fair compensation guaranteed by the Palestinian National Authority”.

Targeting of Quds TV workers:

Quds TV* workers were subjected to a large proportion of the violations monitored by the MADA Center in the last month. On the 14th of December the Preventive Security Service in Nablus city in the West Bank summoned Quds TV program coordinator Nawaf Al-Amer for investigation; he appeared as requested at their headquarters and was detained from 9:00 am until 1:15 am the next morning. Al-Amer reported that during this period of detention he was interrogated for two hours on his work, social status and the reason for his arrest in 1989 by the Israeli Occupation Forces. He was then presented with a summons to appear before the Preventative Security Service on the 25th of December. Upon presenting himself at the headquarters, the service officers changed the summons request to a daily review; he was then detained from 9:00 am to 1:30 pm every morning from the 25th - 29th of December without interrogation.

In another incident, the Palestinian Intelligence Service raided the headquarters of the Pal Media agency in Hebron city in the West Bank. The incident took place on Tuesday the 21st of December, when Quds TV cameraman Akram Natshe and the Hebron and Bethlehem correspondent, Mamdouh Hamamreh were arrested without warrant. The intelligence service also confiscated two computers and their mobile phones. Officers stated that they had obtained an arrest warrant from the General Attorney, but at no point produced it during their arrest or detention. They were released the following afternoon.
Hamamreh said that their interrogation concerned a program broadcasted on Quds TV showing interviews with the mothers of detainees on hunger strike in the prisons of the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank. Hamamreh informed the security service that the program had been broadcasted from the Lebanese capital Beirut, and that they were not involved in its coordination.
The Preventive Security Service in Bethlehem prosecuted journalist Mamdouh Hamamreh and Pal Media agency cameraman Abdul Ghane Natshe on Friday the 24th December following a report on the Christmas celebrations in Manger Square, Bethlehem. The Preventive Security Service summoned Natshe after he had completed the report and requested the videotape. Natshe said: “We have been interrogated about the reason of my work with the Quds TV, I said that they are a customer of the agency I am employed by, the interrogator advised me not to work with Quds TV, and asked me if I had deleted any section of the tape, he ordered that Hamamreh stay away from the Nativity Church and told him that he is not desirable in the region”. 

* Quds TV is an Arabic channel concerned with Palestinian issues; licensed in London, it has offices in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, Beirut, and Damascus. It is owned by Quds Radio and Television Company, and began broadcasting on 11 November 2008. Quds staff are frequently followed and harassed by security services in the West Bank in an attempt to pressure the channel into changing its critical stance on the Palestinian Authority.

Continued Israeli Violations:

The Israeli intelligence service summoned A’lam radio presenter Samer Ruweishid for investigation in Hebron city in the West Bank. An unit of Israeli occupation soldiers raided Ruweished’s house on Sunday the 5th December, and gave him a summons to appear before intelligence headquarters on Wednesday the 8th of December. According to Ruweished, he went to the intelligence headquarters where he was questioned on the location and nature of his work, the interview lasted only a few minutes.

The Israeli occupation forces prevented Alhayat Aljadedah newspaper photographer Muheeb Barghouti and Palestine TV cameraman Najeeb Sharawneh from covering the weekly march against settlements and the separation wall in the village of Nabi Saleh near Ramallah city. Barghouti said that the Israeli occupation forces detained him with his colleague in the settlement of Beit El, from 9:00 am until 4:00 pm, thus preventing them from covering the march; their equipment was confiscated as were their identity cards. Barghouti and Sharawneh reported that the soldiers tried repeatedly to provoke them before releasing them.

The Israeli occupation forces attacked Al-Quds newspaper photographer Mahmud A’lian near Qalandia checkpoint in Ramallah city. The incident took place on Sunday the 26th of December. A’lian went to report on a solidarity march of Palestinians near Qalandia checkpoint at approximately 11:00 am. Whilst covering the event, one of the Israeli soldiers beat him on his back, after confronting the soldier as to why he was being beaten another four solders joined the first and proceeded to beat him severely. A’lian said that the soldiers detained him for two hours before being released.

A new Israeli phenomenon to impede the work of journalists:

Israeli settlers have, this December, instigated a new tactic to impede the work of Palestinian journalists*. The settlers damaged three tires of a Reuter’s agency vehicle, and another two tires of a Pal Media Agency vehicle. The incident took place in Hebron city in the West Bank. Reuter’s cameraman Yusri Aljamal said that he went with a group of journalists to the town of Yatta in the south of Hebron on Wednesday the 29th December to cover attacks by settlers on lands belonging to Palestinians. When they had finished filming, they were surprised to find that the settlers had damaged the tires in plain view of Israeli soldiers. Aljamal added that they had to wait for 9 hours before getting help in repairing them.

In the same context the next day at approximately 1:00 pm, an Israeli settler damaged all the tires of a vehicle belonging to a French Agency photographer Nasser Al-Shoukhi while he was covering a march against the confiscation of land belonging to Palestinian families in Hebron. Al-Shoukhi said that he tried to catch the settler, but the Israeli soldiers grabbed him allowing the settler to run away.

* All of the vehicles were known to belong to journalists as there were visible press cards presented on all sides of the cars; demonstrating the clear targeting of Palestinian journalists by settlers who do not want their repeated aggressions against Palestinian citizens documented.

Conclusions and recommendations:

MADA strongly condemns the continued violations against Palestinian journalists by the Israeli Occupation Forces and the Palestinian Security Services in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. MADA also expresses its deep concern of the lives of Palestinian journalists while covering events in the occupied Palestinian territories, particularly in the city of Jerusalem and the towns hosting weekly solidarity marches in the West Bank.

MADA therefore calls for:

  • Respect of the right to freedom of expression in the occupied Palestinian territories.

  • Objectivity by not involving journalists in the internal division between Fateh and Hamas parties.

  • An end to the arrests and calls for investigation of journalists by the Palestinian Security Services in the West Bank and Gaza.

  • The upholding of Palestinian Basic Law - particularly Article 19, which guarantees the freedom of opinion and expression of Palestinian citizens - and holding those who break it accountable.

  • The intervention of the international community and human rights organizations to make the Israeli occupation accountable for its violations against Palestinian journalists, and to exercise a real pressure on it to release detainees.

  • The immediate release of all Palestinian journalists in Palestinian prisons.

  • Contact:
    Riham Abu Aita
    Public Relation Officer
    00970 2 2976519 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              

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