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Media workers harassed, attacked in several incidents

(MADA/IFEX) - May 2009 witnessed a continuation of violations against Palestinian journalists, especially by the Israeli occupation authorities, which included the arrest of journalists Azmi Ash-Shioukhi, Ahmad Jalajil and his assistant, Raed Sarhan, the injury of Abd Ar-Rahman Khabisa and the closure of a Palestinian media center in Jerusalem.

The Israeli occupation authorities continued to impose house arrest and have resumed the trial of the AlalamTelevision correspondent Khader Shahin and producer Mohamed Sarhan.

Security forces have arrested cameraman Osaid Amarneh and kept journalists Mustafa Sabri and Murad Abu Al-Baha under arrest since April 2009. There is information that those journalists were exposed to torture.

MADA Center condemns all attacks against journalists by the Israeli occupation forces, and the arrests of journalists by the Palestinian security apparatuses, and it demands the cessation of all attacks against journalists, and the release of those still detained.

Details of Violations:

(May 1) - General Supervisor of Palestine Media and information Network Azmi Ash-Shioukhi was arrested by the Israeli occupation forces. Ash-Shioukhi said that he was arrested with a number of participants in the weekly march against the separation wall in Al-Mia'sara village south of Bethlehem, and that they were harassed during the arrest as well as after transferring them to the police station in Kfar Etzion. Ash-Shiukhi has been investigated for participating in the march and accused of incitement to organize demonstrations against the construction of the wall and settlements. The day following his arrest, he was isolated in a solitary cell because of his (. . .) protest against ill-treatment and lack of food and clothing. Ash-Shioukhi has been brought before the Ofer court five times for charges of inciting demonstrations. He was released on 13 May, after being sentenced to one year in prison with a stay of execution, and he was prevented from participating in marches, in addition to a financial penalty of 20,000 shekels (approx. US$5,000).

(May 11) - Palestinian Information Office was closed in the city of Jerusalem by the Israeli occupation forces. Lawyer Ahmed Ar-Rwaidi said that an Israeli security force raided the Ambassador Hotel, where the Center was established to cover the visit of Pope Benedict XVI. The forces handed Ar-Rwaidi an order from the Israeli Minister of Internal Security to close the Center. The forces also confiscated the contents of the Center including files, papers and the Center's sign. He indicated that the hotel's hall had been rented for the establishment of the Center, especially in light of preventing Palestinians journalists from covering the visit of the Pope during his tour in Jerusalem, and to give the opportunity to the personalities and institutions of Jerusalem to express their opinions.

(May 18) - Cameraman Osaid Amarneh was arrested by the Palestinian Preventive Security in Bethlehem. His family said that he had received a notice from the above mentioned forces. When he went to meet them, he was arrested and exposed to torture on the first day. The next day, he was transferred to regular rooms in the prison and his family visited him. The family was told by the Preventive security that there are no charges against him, but he was held due to the political situation. Osaid was arrested several times by the security forces and forced to sign a pledge, promising not to work for Al-Aqsa Television.

(May 29) - Associated Press cameraman Abd Ar-Rahman Khabisa was injured by the Israeli occupation forces in the village of Bil'in, west of Ramallah. Khabisa said that he was covering the weekly march against the separation wall in Bil'in village when the Israeli soldiers fired a gas canister at him which hit him between his legs, resulting in the burning of his clothes and a slight burn on the top of his legs. He moved about ten meters away from the location in which he was filming and ten minutes later, the soldiers shot him with a sound grenade that burned his abdomen. He was transferred to Skiek Zayed hospital in Ramallah for treatment. Khabisa confirmed that the bombs were deliberately fired at him by the soldiers.

(May 29) - Palestine Media and Communications Company cameraman Ahmed Jalajel, and his assistant, Raed Sarhan were arrested by the Israeli police in the city of Jerusalem. Jalajel said that he was filming inside Al-Aqsa Mosque and when they departed the Al- Asbat gate at about 1:00 p.m. (local time), twenty policemen were waiting for them. They confiscated their camera and cellular phones, arrested them and transferred them to a nearby police station. Filming inside the Mosque is prohibited unless permission is obtained from the police. One hour later, they were transferred to another police station in the old city where the investigation into the filming was resumed.

Jalajel told the police, "we interred as journalists and it is our right to film". They were released at around 5:00 p.m. (local time) after signing a financial guarantee of 3,000 shekels (approx. US$750) and an order preventing them from entering the Mosque for a 15-day period. They were also told not to enter Al-Aqsa during the period of prevention, otherwise they will be arrested.

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