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Violations of media freedoms in Israel, Palestine in April 2013

The Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA) monitored a number of media freedom violations in Palestine during April 2013, noting that Israeli abuses against Palestinian journalists continue and violations still pose a threat to their lives preventing them from doing their work.

The Israeli Occupational Forces (IOF) attacked a group of journalists with rubber bullets, beatings, and detention. The most dangerous attack was that Palestinian News Network's (PNN) cameraman Mohammad Alazza, who was shot in the face with a rubber bullet from a distance not exceeding 15 meters.

In the West Bank, MADA monitored two violations by Palestinian factions. In the Gaza Strip this April, no violations were monitered by MADA.

Israeli Violations:

The IOF attacked Pal Media cameraman Abdul Ghani Al Natsheh twice last month: first, during his coverage of clashes between Israeli Forces and Palestinians in Hebron on 2 April 2013, during which he was shot in his hand with a metal bullet causing it to bleed. The second was on 24 April 2013, when he was detained for an hour and a half during his coverage of visit of the Secretary-Generals for Arab National Education and Culture Committees' delegation to the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron.

On 2 April, the IOF attacked a group of journalists during their coverage of a peaceful protest in Jerusalem in light of the death of prisoner Maysara Abu Hameda. Those attacked were: Quds Net correspondent Diala Jweihan, Wafa Agency photographer Afef Omera, French Agency photographer Jamil Qudmani, Al Quds newspaper photographer Mahmoud Alian, and Ranwa Agency photographer Saeed Alqaq.

On 8 April, an Israeli soldier deliberately shot a rubber bullet at Palestinian News Network PNN cameraman Mohammad Alazza (23), during his coverage of the clashes between Palestinian youth and the IOF in the Aida Refugee Camp in Bethlehem. Alazza was shot in the face right beneath his eye.

The editor-in-chief of the Hona Alquds Network for the local media station at Alquds University, Mazen Awad, was beaten by three Israeli soldiers while trying to pass through the Beit-Eil checkpoint on 17 April. His journalism I.D was confiscated as well.

The Salem Israeli Occupation Military court sentenced the Palestinian cartoonist Mohamed Fayeq Sabaana (34) to five months in prison and a 10,000 Shekel fine (approximately 2800 $USD), on 4 April, on charges of "contacting a hostile third-party”.

Palestinian Violations:

The Palestinian intelligence services arrested the editor-in-chief of Quds Network, Tareq Khames, at Medicare Hospital in Ramallah at around 10 am on 20 April. The Security Services also arrested Quds Press Agency correspondent Khaldoun Mathloum from his home near Ramallah on 26 April.

Conclusions and Recommendations:

Since the start of the new year, media freedoms in Palestine have been under continues attacks by the occupation. Israeli forces targeted a large number of journalists and committed multiple forms of violations against them.

MADA condemns all violations against journalists, and urges the international community to move fast and with determination to stop the attacks on journalists and ensure their safety from systematic targeting, which is designed to hide the IOF's crimes against the Palestinian people.

With regards to the Palestinian violations, while MADA welcomes the decline in the number of violations compared to last year, the centre emphasizes the need to respect freedom of opinion and expression, and to stop the prosecution and harassment of journalists.

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