Palestinian journalists targeted by all sides

A picture taken on May 31, 2013 shows Palestinian journalist Ashraf Abu Shaweesh being given assistance after being injured by tear gas during clashes following a protest against the expropriation of Palestinian land by Israel in the village of Kfar Qaddum, near the occupied West Bank city of Nablus. The internal Palestinian conflict and the larger Arab-Israeli conflict are taking their toll on journalism in Palestine. (AFP file photo)
Updated 12 August 2017

Palestinian journalists targeted by all sides

AMMAN: The internal Palestinian conflict and the larger Arab-Israeli conflict are taking their toll on journalism in Palestine.
Palestinian journalists and the public’s right to know seem to be the biggest victims in a campaign that has included arrests by both West Bank and Gaza security agencies, the blocking of websites, and the issuance of a presidential decree that criminalizes posts on social media and online content. Israeli troops have also raided Palestinian media outlets and confiscated equipment.
The Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA) on Wednesday condemned the arrest by Palestinian security services in the West Bank of five journalists: Ahmad Mohammed Halayka, Tareq Abu Zeyd, Quttaiba Saleh Qasem, Mamdouh Mahmoud Hamamreh and Amer Abdul Hakim Abu Arafeh.
Muntaser Hamdan, a member of the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate (PJS), said what is happening to journalists is a premeditated campaign by both Hamas and Fatah.
“This unprecedented campaign is having a negative effect on all professional journalists and media outlets,” he told Arab News.
The only way to face up to “police-like repression” is unity among journalists and their close adherence to professional standards, Hamdan added.
The PJS on Thursday called on its members not to publish any news connected to Palestinian security apparatuses or the attorney general’s office.
The syndicate, which is closely aligned to the ruling Fatah party, said the attorney general’s office broke a promise not to use a controversial cybersecurity law for issues connected to freedom of expression.
Palestinian courts in Ramallah, Hebron and Bethlehem used the recently signed law to justify extending the journalists’ detention.
Ammar Dweik, head of the government-appointed Palestinian Independent Commission for Human Rights, called the law “one of the worst” since the Palestinian Authority (PA) was established in 1994.
The vaguely-worded law makes it a crime for any Palestinian to publish content that harms “national unity” or the “social fabric.” It is “a big setback for freedoms in the West Bank,” said Dweik.
Families of the five journalists, who work for media outlets close to Hamas, have announced a protest march on Saturday from Ramallah’s Manara Square to the presidential headquarters.
Hamas security forces in Gaza have also arrested journalists, including Fouad Jaradeh, a reporter with the official Palestine TV.
The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) called on Hamas to release him.
“Fouad Jaradeh’s arrest illustrates the pressure that Palestinian journalists face from all sides,” CPJ Middle East and North Africa Program coordinator Sherif Mansour said.
“Hamas authorities should release Fouad Jaradeh immediately and should not deny Palestinians in the West Bank the right to receive news from Gaza.”
In July, the PA blocked 30 websites, including many owned or reflecting the views of Hamas and renegade Fatah leader Mohammed Dahlan.
Journalists working for Arab and international media are also harassed by Israel’s army. The Jerusalem Post reported that troops on July 28 raided media offices in Ramallah, confiscating equipment and documents.
The Israeli newspaper quoted an army spokesman as saying the offices are “suspected of manufacturing and distributing material which incites terrorism.”
The official Palestinian news agency WAFA said Israeli troops raided the offices of Palmedia, a member of the Palestinian telecommunications group that provides broadcast services to media outlets such as Russia Today (RT), Al-Mayadeen, Al-Manar and Al-Quds News. According to the Palestinian Maan News Agency, nothing was confiscated from RT’s offices.

Key events in Egypt since the 2011 pro-democracy uprising

President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi. (Supplied)
Updated 21 April 2019

Key events in Egypt since the 2011 pro-democracy uprising

CAIRO: Here are key events in eight years of turmoil and transition in Egypt, leading up to a national referendum on constitutional amendments that could allow President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi to remain in power until 2030.

● Feb. 11, 2011: Autocrat Hosni Mubarak steps down after 18 days of nationwide protests against his nearly 30-year rule. The military takes over, dissolving Parliament and suspending the constitution after the uprising leaves hundreds of protesters dead in clashes with security forces.

● Nov. 28, 2011-Feb. 15, 2012: The Muslim Brotherhood wins nearly half the seats in multi-stage elections for the first post-Mubarak Parliament.

● June 30, 2012: The Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate Muhammad Mursi takes office as Egypt’s first freely elected president.

● Aug. 12, 2012: Mursi removes the defense minister and military chief, Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, and replaces him with El-Sisi.

● Nov. 22, 2012: Mursi unilaterally decrees greater powers for himself, a move that sparks days of protests.

● Dec. 15-22, 2012: Egyptians approve a constitution drafted and hastily passed by Parliament amid protests and walkouts by other groups.

● June 30, 2013: On Mursi’s anniversary in office, millions of Egyptians begin days of demonstrations demanding his resignation. The military gives him 48 hours to reach an agreement with his opponents, but he vows to remain in office.

● July 3, 2013: El-Sisi announces Mursi’s removal.

● Aug. 14, 2013: More than 600 people, mostly Mursi supporters, are killed when police clear two pro-Mursi sit-ins in Cairo. Mursi supporters retaliate by torching government buildings, churches and police stations. Hundreds more die in subsequent violence.

● Dec. 25, 2013: The government designates the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization.

● May 26-28, 2014: Egyptians vote in a presidential election. El-Sisi wins with 96.9 percent of the vote.

● May 16, 2015: Mursi and more than 100 others are sentenced
to death over a mass prison break during the 2011 uprising.

● Oct. 2015: Egypt holds parliamentary elections, leading to an assembly packed with El-Sisi supporters.

● April 2, 2018: El-Sisi wins a second, four-year term in office, with more than 97 percent of the vote.
● Feb. 2019: Lawmakers submit proposed amendments to the constitution that allow El-Sisi to remain in power beyond
his current second four-year term.

● April 10: President Donald Trump welcomes El-Sisi to the White House for a second official visit.

● April 17: The Parliament, packed with El-Sisi’s supporters, overwhelmingly passes the proposed amendments.

● April 18: Egypt’s National Election Authority schedules three days of voting in a nationwide referendum on the amendments. The vote takes place Saturday through Monday.