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ANHRI condemns ongoing harassment, arrests, detentions of media workers

(ANHRI/IFEX) – 14 December 2011 – ANHRI condemns the ongoing targeting of Palestinian journalists and media professionals, while performing their jobs, by the Israeli occupation forces. It also condemns the restrictions imposed by the government in Gaza against the mass media.

Most recently, on 11 December, the Ofer Israeli Military Court, located near the Palestinian central West Bank city of Ramallah, postponed the trial of Raed Sherif, journalist and presenter at Marah radio station to 15 December. Sherif has been detained for almost a month, with no clear charges against him. It is the third time that Sherif has been detained by the Israeli occupation forces. He had been detained twice during the last two years on charges of being a risk to the Israeli security. He spent 39 days in the investigation center of Betah Takfa, and was released on bail of 5000 pounds (approx. US$1500).

On 10 December, Israeli forces arrested a group of journalists at the edge of the town of Beit Ummar, investigated and verbally abused them.

On 9 December, Naguib Farwana, a Palestinian photographer, was injured in the foot by a tear gas grenade while he and the television staff were heading to the village of Nabi Saleh to cover the weekly march. The Israeli occupation forces prevented them from accessing the main gate, so they took another route. However, one of the soldiers saw them, asked them to leave and not to photograph anything. Sound and tear gas grenades were deliberately fired by the soldiers in their direction, leading to Farwana's injury.

On 7 December, Youssef Abdel Hak was arrested. He is the coordinator of the Palestinian Enlightenment and Cultural Forum, "Tanweer", the former chairman of its board and a lecturer at An-Najah National University. He was taken to an unknown location and then transferred to Mejdo central prison, where he is now detained. No reason was given for his arrest.

Furthermore, the security services of the Hamas Government in Gaza continue to summon and detain journalists and bloggers in the Gaza Strip. On 30 November, Manal Khames, a journalist for "Soot el Nesaa" and "Al-Ayam Al-Thakafia" newspapers, was summoned for interrogation. This is the second time that she was summoned. She had been investigated two days earlier by the same security services, who stormed her house and seized her computer, printer, documents, and files.

In the same week, journalist Salah Abou-Salah was arrested by the state security after several summons. Abou-Salah works at Aswar press news agency and has a blog (called "The Blog of the Journalist Salah Abou-Salah"), which addresses the social and political situation in Palestine.

"The Palestinian media suffers great difficulties in performing its mission, especially because it is targeted by the security services of three governments. If Palestinian media workers/professionals are not harassed by the occupation authorities, then they find themselves facing repression from Hamas in Gaza and the PA in the West Bank," said ANHRI.

"The targeting of media professionals must end so that the media can fulfill its role of expressing the struggle of the Palestinian people, whether against the Israeli occupation that uses all tools of repression to gag their mouths, or in their quest for freedom away from arbitrary procedures and detention used by the Palestinian authorities," added ANHRI.

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