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Israeli forces target journalists, raid media offices in midst of Aqsa crisis

Israeli security forces remove metal detectors which had been installed at the entrances to the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem's Old City, 25 July 2017
Israeli security forces remove metal detectors which had been installed at the entrances to the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem's Old City, 25 July 2017

REUTERS/Ammar Awad

This statement was originally published on on 30 July 2017.

The Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA) condemns the widespread attacks carried out by the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) against journalists who carry out their duty in conveying news about peaceful sit-ins. The sit-ins have been organized by Jerusalemites to protest the newly applied metal detector electronic gates and the prevention of worshipers from excising their right to worship in the Al Aqsa Mosque. Additionally, the center expresses its deep concern at the Israeli Occupation Forces storming the offices of PAL-Media in Ramallah and a number of other media agencies.

During the past two weeks, MADA monitored dozens of violations committed by the Israeli occupation police against journalists while they were covering the events in Jerusalem. These attacks varied but included arrests, beatings, threats, the confiscation and destruction of equipment, preventing journalists from covering events, interrogation and targeting journalists with live ammunition and a gas canister.

On 25 July 2017, the Israeli Occupation Police in the city of Jerusalem arrested Active Steel Group and the (+972) magazine photographer, Faiz Hamza Abu Rumaila, and subjected him to two interrogation sessions; they also beat him near Lions Gate.

"At approximately 10:30 am, after the evening prayers, and at the gathering of journalists in the area of Lions Gate, members of the Israeli police assaulted us, pushed us and beat us. I was arrested and taken to the Lions Gate police station where my ID and camera memory card were both confiscated. Due to an argument that erupted between me and the policeman, he attacked me and threatened that he was going to break my head if I spoke in a bad way. I was then transferred to the Qashla detention center. I was beaten, insulted and cursed during the transition. I was detained in the center from 11 pm until 3am. I was handcuffed and seated on a chair and the police kept beating me from time to time," reported Abu Rumaila to MADA.

Amongst those journalists who were attacked by the Israeli occupation forces in Jerusalem were the following colleagues: Muhammad Musa Abu Hadwan, a cameraman for Sky News Arabia; Ali Mohammed Dwayani, a cameraman for the Ru'ya channel in Jerusalem; Diala Juyehan, reporter and photographer of Al-Hayat Al-Jadida newspaper in Jerusalem; Sinan Abdullah Abu Mizar, a Reuters cameraman in Jerusalem; Ali Sami Yassin, Palestine TV cameraman in Jerusalem; photographer Said Abdel Nasser Rokon; Mohammed Kamel Sadiq, Director of the Jerusalem Media Center; Latifa Radwan Abdel Latif, cameraman for the Al Jazeera Live Channel in Jerusalem; Dalia Jamal Numarry, Russia Today reporter; Fatima Abd Al Bakri, correspondent and videographer for the Al-Quds satellite channel; Liwa'a Abu Rmeleh, correspondent for PaltodayTv; and many other Palestinian and foreign journalists who were attacked.

On the other hand, a force from the Israeli Occupation Army broke into the offices of Pal-Media Company in Ramallah City on 29 July 2017. A number of other media agencies which receive media services and equipment from Pal-Media were also impacted. During the raid, soldiers ransacked the premises, and destroyed and confiscated equipment. Alaa Hasan al-Rimawi, of Al-Quds satellite channel - one of the TV channels that were raided - told MADA center, "An Israeli Force raided the Palestine Tower, where the office of Al Quds channel is located, and started to destroy other media offices in the tower. They then entered the offices of the Pal-Media company, Al Mayadeen, Russia Today and the Al Quds channel. Soldiers broke down the doors to the Al Quds channel office and ransacked it, and confiscated a large archive of information materials and work equipment."

The wide range of indiscriminate violent attacks against the media and journalists reaffirms the persistence of the Israeli occupation forces' violations and ongoing attacks on media freedoms through various violent means. MADA views these incidents as an attempt to block the media from sending to the world a true image of what is happening on the ground and the policies that are being practiced towards the Palestinians. MADA stresses the urgent need to prosecute the perpetrators of these attacks, who have thus far escaped punishment.

The MADA Center stresses the need to hold the occupation force accountable for its ongoing violations against journalists and its violations of international conventions and laws that protect journalists while covering events. The MADA center further urges the international community to act fast to protect Palestinian journalists.

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