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Journalist Hasan Abdel Jawad arrested; intimidation of press in West Bank growing, says IFJ

(IFJ/IFEX) - The following is an IFJ media release:

Detentions and Threats Sharpen Crisis for West Bank Journalists

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today has condemned a series of detentions and threats to journalists in the Palestinian West Bank, which it says are creating a new level of intimidation of journalists and the press in the region.

The IFJ is calling for the release of journalists being held in Israeli prisons for their critical reporting. The arrest last week in Bethlehem of journalist Hasan Abdel Jawad, who is also a Palestinian Journalists' Syndicate (PJS) board member, brings to 8 the number of journalists detained by Israeli authorities.

"This targeting of Palestinian journalists by Israel is completely unacceptable," said IFJ President Jim Boumelha. "Our colleagues should be released and any further threats against journalists trying to do their job should be eliminated."

Abdel Jawad, who is in poor health, is being detained in Ofer prison in the West Bank. The PJS has held demonstrations calling for his release and calling on Israel to stop violating Palestinian journalists' rights.

The IFJ protest comes as there are fresh concerns over the Palestinian Authority (PA) after Preventive Security forces stormed the offices of the Ramattan news agency and arrested Editor Nawaf al Amer. The security forces interrogated him at their offices in Ramallah and accused al Amer of working with a secret Hamas security organization in the West Bank.

The PJS said it negotiated with the Palestinian Authority (PA) to secure al Amer's release the next day. The union said it has also intervened in other cases where journalists have been detained by the PA, including journalist Khalil Mabrouk, who was released from a prison in Nablus after a visit from PJS President Naim Toubassi.

The IFJ is supporting the PJS in its call to respect the rights of Palestinian journalists and end the widespread detention of journalists.

The IFJ is also investigating a reported threat by Hamas officials against Toubassi.

"The situation in the West Bank is increasingly difficult and threatening for journalists and their leaders," Boumelha said. "There needs to be an end to all forms of military and political pressure on Palestinian media."

The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 120 countries worldwide.

For further information on the Nawaf case: http://www.ifex.org/s/content/view/full/91650/

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