There have been disturbing violations of media freedoms in the occupied Palestinian territories during October 2009. The Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA) monitored many of the Israeli violations against journalists, especially incidents in Jerusalem and Hebron committed by Israeli occupation forces. These included attacks on: Alquds Net reporter and photographer Dyala Jwayhan, Palestinian News Network (PNN) correspondent Mays Abu-Ghazaleh, and AP photographer Mahfouz Abu Turk as well as attacks on photographer Abdul Hafiz and Najeh Hashlamoun and the arrest of journalist Iyad Srour in Hebron.
In addition, Israeli occupation forces disguised themselves as photojournalists in Ras Alamoud, and the crew of Aljazeera was prevented from entering Jerusalem.
On the Palestinian side, the Palestinian police attacked AlQuds TV correspondent Ayman Salameh in Khanyounis city, the Palestinian intelligence services arrested journalist Sedki Mousa in Nablus city, some of Palestinian people assaulted the journalists Fayez and Bassam Abu-Oun in Gaza city, and Palestinian youth hurled a stone at photographer Atta E’ouisat in Jerusalem city.
MADA also expressed concern of a renewed campaign of incitement against al-Jazeera TV against the backdrop of Palestinians applaud (Kan Mawtini). These negative campaigns against the news agencies may lead to attacks on the press offices and crews, as happened more than once in the past.
MADA expresses its strong condemnation of attacks on journalists, particularly by the Israeli occupying forces. These attacks are a blatant violation of freedom of expression guaranteed in international laws and conventions, especially the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. MADA demands the international community to pressure Israel to stop its attacks on journalists.
The OPT ranked very low rank in the rankings of press freedom in 2009 (161 out of 175), according to a report recently published by Reporters without Borders. This low rank is a serious and worrying indication of the reality of media freedoms in Palestine. Thought the rank is slightly better than last year (ranked 163 out of 173), it still represents limited press freedoms due to frequent and serious attacks on journalists and media outlets by Israeli occupation forces and the Palestinian security apparatuses in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Details of violations.
(3 Oct.) “Falestinue 48” news website photographer Abdullah Fathi Zidan, was attacked by Israeli occupation forces in Jerusalem. Zidan said that he was beaten on the face by Israeli occupation forces when he was filming in the Al-Aqsa Mosque. Zidan added: “At about ten o’clock in the morning the Israeli occupation forces began the attack on the protestors in the Aqsa Mosque, some of them fled, and the rest stayed with Sheikh Kamal Khatib. During the attack, one of the soldiers hit me on my face causing bleeding and swelling.”
(8 Oct.) Aljazeera TV crew (correspondent Walid al-Omari, cameraman Majid Al-Safadi, and assistant cameraman Abdel Nasser Deirat) were prevented from entering Jerusalem at a checkpoint in north of Jerusalem. According to al-Omari, who is also director of Aljazeera’s bureau in Jerusalem, the occupation soldiers on the checkpoint near Hizma village stopped the crew and took their identities and prevented the cameraman from filming. AL-Omari added: “We thought that they prevented all Palestinians and the Arab and foreign journalists from entering Jerusalem, and then we noticed that they allowed everyone to pass except us. The crew of Aljazeera was heading to Jerusalem to cover the events in Al-Aqsa Mosque, which was surrounded by Israeli occupation forces worshipers were prevented from entering.”
(9 Oct.) The occupation forces disguised as photojournalists in Ras al-Amoud in Jerusalem, The chairman of the Palestinian Journalists Committee, photographer Awad Awad, said that a group of citizens confirmed the involvement of a number of “musta’rbeen” (Israeli security forces unit usually dressed like Arabs) in the middle of the Palestinian demonstrators who were protesting against the Israeli practices against the Al-Aqsa Mosque on Thursday and Friday (8-9/10), and that they dressed as uniformed photojournalists and have cameras and arrested a number of young people.
(10 Oct.) “Al Ayyam” newspaper reporter Faiz Shukri Abu Aoun (49) and the Executive Director of the Radio “Sawt Al Sha’b” Bassam Abu Oun (47) were attacked by group of people during their coverage of a sit-in near Al-Aqsa University in Gaza. They were protesting because the municipality demolished their stores. This is what transpired, according to Fayez Abu-Oun: “We has heard about a sit-in protest and when we went to the area to cover the event, a number of citizens told me that the police arrested three of their children, so I registered the feedback on my notebook. Then one of the people there tried to take my notebook I refused to give it to him and I went to the car. He followed me there and tried again to take it by force, but I refused so he hit me on the right side of my head. A large number of people gathered –there were about twenty, and six of them participated in the attack on us and on the car. After the attack we went to the Shifa Hospital for treatment, and then we went to the police station to report them, and we saw the main aggressor complain to the police, alleging that we were writing reports and sending them to “Fatah “in the West bank. Fortunately I have had contacts with a number of journalists’ colleagues, who confirmed that am an independent journalist and worked for the last 18 years in the press, so the police arrested the assailant.”
(10 Oct.) Al Quads TV correspondent Ayman Mohamad Salameh (35years) was attacked by Palestinian police in Gaza. Salameh said that there was a problem between some citizens and police so I Went to investigate the matter to tell Al Quds TV if they want to cover the event, but the police officer prevented him from entering the area. Salameh added: “then I told him that I’m a journalist, so He aimed his weapon at me and a verbal argument sparked between us. another policeman, without knowing why we argue, he beat me with his blackjack despite that I told him that I am a journalist and the TV I work with, then a number of citizens took me to the hospital where I have suffered from bruises on my left hand and my left leg, after that I went to the police station and filed a complaint against the policeman whom hit me, so the police arrested him and released me after two days.
(15 Oct.) Jaffa office director Iyad Sha’ban Srour (36years) was arrested by the Israeli occupying forces in Hebron. His mother said that the Israeli occupation forces knocked at their door at about 1:30 am and asked everybody to leave the house, “we asked Iyad to wake up because he was sleeping, when he was out they arrested and cuffed him, and he was taken away to unknown place, later we heard that he was transferred to Ofer detention camp near Ramallah”. Srour was arrested by Palestinian Intelligence on 14october 2008 and was released on the ninth of last September.
(21 Oct.) The freelance journalist Sidqi Mohammed Salameh (25 years) was arrested by Palestinian intelligence in Nablus. Salameh’s father said that Palestinian intelligence called him as part of an investigation throughout the four days preceding his arrest. On 21 October he went to the interview and was arrested that day. Sidqi had returned from Jordan lately, after he finishing the preparation of a master degree in the media.
(25 Oct.) Alquds Net news website correspondent and photographer Dyala Jwayhan was attacked by Israeli police in Jerusalem. Jwayhan reported that members of the police assaulted and beat her after she took a picture of an Israeli police officer assaulting an elderly man. So one of them beat her, pressed his leg on her foot strongly, and ripped her T-shirt. Jwayhan added: “There was a group of women who tried to protect me, but the Israeli police started to shout, saying they would get out of the mosque only if I was arrested. After that the women called the ambulance, and when the ambulance came the police left. They took me to hospital in Jerusalem, and the doctor diagnosed my case, saying that I was suffering from severe bruises in the neck and back and a torn muscle in my foot”.
(25 Oct.) Palestinian News Network correspondent (PNN), Mays Abu-Ghazaleh, was assaulted by Israeli police in Jerusalem as she tried to enter Al-Aqsa Mosque. According to Abu-Ghazaleh, one of the soldiers closed the metal barrier on her right leg resulting in a slight injury, bruises, and swelling. Mays added that the soldier tried several times to close the barrier on her body but she was got away at the right moment, but the last time when she was turning back, the police quickly closed the barrier on her leg, and he said to her in a bad tone: “Watch out.” Abu-Gazalah also said that she saw a member of the foreign press was beaten and some of her teeth were broken, but she could not identify her.
(25 Oct.) AP photographer Mahfouz Mohammed Abu Turk (60 years) was attacked by Israeli special guards in Jerusalem; Abu Turk said that he was beaten severely by special guards before the noon prayer when he was in the old city. The guard pushed him into a corner and beat him with batons, feet and hands, but some Palestinian youth came and dragged him from the corner and gave him assistance. The attack caused him severe pain in the left foot and right knee and bruises in the back.
(25 Oct.) “Yediot Aharonot” newspaper photographer Atta E’oissat was injured by a stone in Jerusalem. E’oissat said that he was wounded in his left leg by a stone thrown at him by Palestinian youth, as he tried to convince a number of young men that the foreign journalists who were accompanying him were not soldiers disguised as journalists. This followed the incident where Israeli occupation forces had disguised themselves as photojournalists in the neighborhood of Ras al-Amoud on (8-9 October).
(28 Oct.) A for the European Agency (EPA) photographer, Abdel-Hafiz Hashlamoun, was assaulted by the Israeli occupying forces in Hebron. Hashlamoun reported that one of the Israeli soldiers beat him with the gun on his waist, and kicked his feet when he was filming the soldiers shoveling the Palestinians farms in the east of Hebron. He sustained injuries including bruises and scratches on his body and severe pain in his waist.
(28 Oct.) (ABA) agency photographer Najeh Hashlamoun was attacked by Israeli soldiers in Hebron. Hashlamoun reported that the Israeli Civil Administration workers hit him with his camera in his face when he was photographing them when they were destroying irrigation pipes to Palestinian farmers in the east of Hebron. The blows caused bleeding in his mouth. Hashlamoun added that the workers also tried to attack Reuter’s photographer Nayef Hashlamoun, but the Palestinian farmers protected him.