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.


Israeli defence chief says he's preparing for consequences of West Bank annexations

Updated 01 June 2020

Israeli defence chief says he's preparing for consequences of West Bank annexations

  • Gantz said he ordered the military to step up preparations for Israel's pending annexation of parts of the West Bank
  • Netanyahu has pledged to begin cabinet discussions on July 1 on the plan

JERUSALEM: Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz said on Monday he ordered the military to step up preparations for Israel's pending annexation of parts of the West Bank, a plan that could stoke Palestinian violence.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has pledged to begin cabinet discussions on July 1 on extending Israeli sovereignty to Jewish settlements and the Jordan Valley in the West Bank, occupied territory that Palestinians seek for a state.
Gantz's directive appeared to indicate that the centrist politician had either signed on to the move, or at least believed it would be inevitable, given right-wing support in the Netanyahu-led coalition cabinet.
In public remarks to legislators of his centrist Blue and White party, Gantz noted a recent uptick in anti-Israeli violence in the West Bank and the Palestinians' declaration last month that they were ending security cooperation with Israel over the annexation issue.
He said he had subsequently ordered the chief of staff, Lieutenant-General Aviv Kochavi, to "examine all the ramifications and the required preparations" stemming from moving ahead with the peace plan US President Donald Trump announced in January, a blueprint that could ease annexation.
In a separate written statement, Gantz said "preparations by the Israel Defence Forces should be stepped up ahead of pending diplomatic moves regarding the Palestinians".
The Palestinians have rejected Trump's proposal, under which the vast majority of West Bank settlements built by Israel on land captured in the 1967 Middle East war would be incorporated into "contiguous Israeli territory".
The Palestinians and most countries consider such settlements illegal. Israel disputes this.
The Trump plan also envisages a Palestinian state under near-complete Israeli security control, creating what Palestinians leaders say would be an unviable country.
Sami Abu Zuhri, an official with militant group Hamas which rules the Gaza Strip, another part of Palestinians' hoped-for future state, told Reuters: "The call of the occupation army to get ready for annexation of the West Bank is a call for war, and the occupation will regret this crime, and soon realise they are committing a grave mistake."