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Violations of media freedoms in Palestine in January 2013

(MADA/IFEX) - 5 February 2013 - The Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA) monitored a large number of violations against journalists in the Occupied Palestinian Territories during January 2013. Journalists were exposed to numerous attacks that can only be described as a new attempt to suppress the truth, silence the media, and prevent journalists from performing their professional duty.

The Israeli Occupational Forces (IOF) continued to prevent journalists from covering solidarity events and gathering peacefully in different areas of the West Bank. At times, journalists were prevented forcibly from entering certain areas; some were targeted by gas bombs, and others were detained.

In the Gaza strip, journalists experienced a multitude of violations in January, namely arrests and violent interrogations by Hamas's internal security forces. However, during the last month and for the first time in many months, MADA monitored no violations against journalists in the West bank by Palestinian officials.

Violations by the Israeli Occupational Forces:

On 12 January 2013, the IOF denied the Palestinian News Network (PNN) crew, including editor-in-chief Monjid Jado and cameraman Joseph Saqer, access to the village of Bab Alshams, near the city of Jerusalem. The IOF also prevented other press crews from reaching the site such as Al Etejah TV, a Saudi Arabian channel and an Iraqi one.

Meanwhile, the IOF also assaulted journalists who were on site in the village of Bab Alshams, and forcibly prevented them from covering the Israeli military operation to evacuate Palestinians and international activists present in the village. It all occurred at dawn on January 13 2013.

The Israeli forces also detained Alquds TV correspondent Samer Khowaira and PalMedia cameraman Ahmed Alkilani at the Almalha Checkpoint in the Ein Alhilwa area. They also detained a group of journalists at the Aloja Checkpoint on 19 January 2013, while they were on their way to cover a solidarity movement near the city of Jericho.

On 25 January, an Israeli gas bomb was thrown directly at the Turkish Anatolia agency correspondent Qais Abu Samra, ramming into his back. Abu Samra was covering clashes between the Israeli Forces and Palestinians in the village of Budrus west of Ramallah.

Palestinian Violations:

The Gaza Strip witnessed an increase in violations against journalists, as they were subjected to assaults, detentions, and interrogations.

During the days 21- 23 of January 2013, a series of arrests were made by the Hamas internal security personnel in the Gaza Strip. Those arrests targeted the Executive Director of the Journalists' Syndicate in Gaza, Munir Almunirawi, Chief Editor of the Palestinian Media Group Mustafa Al-Miqdad, freelancer Ashraf Abu Khsewan, a reporter from Sawt Alhureyya, Juma' Abu Shumer, Omar Aldahudi, Hesham alja'b, Alaa Aldahudi, Moayad Alasali, Shadi Shaheen, Muhanad Alkahloot, Issam Madi, and Majdi Abd Alazzis Mohamed Saleem. On 28 January, Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh decided the journalists should be released, after MADA and many other human rights institutions strongly demanded it, in addition to the interference of Public Freedoms Committee and some public and political figures.

Hamas also summoned, from the Aswar news website, reporters Hussein Abdel Jawad and AbdulKarim Fathi for interrogation on 23 January. The journalists were interrogated separately about the agency, their work, and their source of funding.

In addition, an individual in Gaza assaulted Ashraf Abu Amra, a journalist who was covering a solidarity event 20 January 2013.

Conclusion and Recommendations:

MADA condemns all violations against journalists. The centre calls on all parties of the official international and human rights organizations to exert real pressure on the Israeli authorities to halt their repressive practices and attacks on journalists who have been targeted directly and deliberately during their coverage of various events in the Occupied State of Palestine in flagrant violation of all international laws and conventions.

For more details on the individual cases presented above, click here.

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