Israeli authorities are ‘punishing’ Palestinian journalists by restricting their ability to travel in as a result of their efforts to document Israeli violations or criticise Israeli policies, Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor said in a report today.
Entitled “Punishing Journalists: Israel’s Restrictions on Freedom of Movement,” the report details how the Israeli restrictions are not limited to denying Palestinian journalists to travel outside the Palestinian territories. After traveling abroad, journalists may face restrictions on their right to return or decisions preventing them from entering the Palestinian territories altogether.
Several journalists told Euro-Med Monitor that Israeli soldiers notified them that the travel ban against them will only be lifted if they report security information about Palestinians to the Israeli intelligence or work for Israel.
Others said that Israeli officers promised to allow them to travel if they gave up their journalistic work or stopped working for certain media outlets. However, if they refused, they would have been subjected to physical and psychological attacks, including beatings, detentions, home break-ins, and threats of continuous prosecution, they said.
Journalist Radi Karama, 32, from Hebron in the southern occupied West Bank, told Euro-Med Monitor: “I was interrogated by an Israeli officer who introduced himself as the one responsible for the travel ban. We talked about the details of the travel ban. He presented me with several proposals, all centered on working with the Israeli security in exchange for removing the ban. He offered me a monthly salary of $3,000 in return for working with him, but I categorically refused.”
“After that, I was surprised that a large group of the Israeli army stormed my house. I was arrested and taken to the Kiryat Arba settlement in Hebron. That night was the worst in my life. The officer told me that the removal of the travel ban is conditional on working with him.”
Moreover, in some cases, the Israeli authorities do not inform journalists or their lawyers of the reasons for the ban. In other cases, they are told that the reason is in a “secret file.”
Nour Olwan, Euro-Med Monitor’s chief media officer, said: “For decades, the Israeli authorities have been tightening the grip on journalists in the Palestinian territories, by direct targeting, arrests, intimidation, damage to equipment, and more.”
“In recent years, another undisclosed form of abuse against them has escalated. An increasing number of journalists have begun to find themselves banned from traveling without justification or explanation, apparently to punish them for their work,” she said.
“The Israeli authorities’ pursuit of such arbitrary policies against Palestinian journalists to silence them is a setback for freedoms of expression and journalistic work in the Palestinian territories,” she added.