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Palestinian security forces attack journalists during Ramallah protests

Palestinians gather in an anti -government demonstration calling for the president Mahmoud Abbas to resign and an end to security cooperation with Israel in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Monday, March 13, 2017
Palestinians gather in an anti -government demonstration calling for the president Mahmoud Abbas to resign and an end to security cooperation with Israel in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Monday, March 13, 2017

AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed

This statement was originally published on madacenter.org on 13 March 2017.

On 12 March 2017, Palestinian security forces assaulted journalists covering a peaceful protest in front of the Al-Bireh court in Ramallah. In light of the incident, the Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA) has expressed strong condemnation of all violations committed by Palestinian security apparatuses against journalists.

The center has called on official authorities to investigate the violation and hold perpetrators accountable, noting that similar assaults have taken place frequently and with impunity.

At least four journalists were assaulted by police officers with cudgels despite the fact that all journalists were previously identified by police and were known to security forces. Other journalists and civilians were also indiscriminately exposed to violations through the use of tear gas bombs, stun grenades, and pepper spray.

Journalist and report at Ro'ya TV Hafeth Abu Sabra underwent unjustified and excessive use of power and force without showing any resistance, as shown in the video included below. He was attacked by more than one police official.



Director and cameraman at Ro'ya TV Mohammad Shusheh and Wattan agency reporter Ahmad Melhem were both beaten with cudgels, while Palestine Today TV reporter Jihad Barakat and his crew were prevented from doing their work and had their equipment damaged.

"While we were covering the peaceful demonstration, one of the security officials in plainclothes tried to confiscate my camera," said Shusheh to MADA. "When I refused to hand it over, he started hitting me with his hands and a cudgel, mainly aiming his blows at my back. When my colleague Hafeth Abu Sabrah came towards us to help me, they started hitting him as well, excessively."

Barakat also reported to MADA on the incidents of the day, saying, “when security apparatuses arrived to separate the protestors, under the pretext that the demonstrators were closing the street, they started targeting indiscriminately both protestors and journalists with tear gas bombs and pepper spray." Barakat noted that one group identified itself as the general intelligence and forcefully tried to prevent them from reporting on the protest.

MADA has reaffirmed the urgent need to protect journalists and media outlets and their right to cover all events and activities freely without any pressure or assaults. MADA strongly condemns this unjustified and excessive use of force against journalists, which breaches their rights under Palestinian Basic Law.

MADA also condemns the attack that targeted the protestors, which is also guaranteed under the Palestinian Basic Law. Hence, the center demands that the authorities and all responsible bodies investigate and take punitive measures against all perpetrators and bring them to justice.

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