MADA: New Setbacks for Media Freedoms Last Month

PNN – Palestine News Network – Sept 12, 2011

According to a report by the Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA), freedom of expression in Palestine faced a new setback in August when Israeli occupation forces arrested, detained and attacked journalists to prevent media coverage.

The report says these incidents are major threats to freedom of expression and the right to access information.

Last month, Israeli soldiers arrested three journalists in the West Bank, bringing the number of Palestinian journalists incarcerated in Israeli jails to four.

The arrests were made earlier this year.

On May 8, the Israeli army arrested the West Bank’s Falasteen newspaper’s office director, Walid Khalid.

On June 28, al-Quds’ TV program coordinator Nawaf Al-Amer was arrested and on August 9 Samer Allaway, al-Jazeera’s Afghanistan Bureau Chief was arrested while crossing the West Bank – Jordan border after spending his annual vacation with family in Sabastya village near Nablus.

On August 21, Amer Abu Arafeh, a Shihab agency correspondent, was arrested and sentenced to six months of administrative detention.

On August 28, Osaid Amarneh, an al-Aqsa TV cameraman, was released after one week in Israeli custody.

According to the report, Israeli soldiers committed several violations, including attacking an al-Jazeera crew on August 19 while covering Friday prayers and detaining a group of journalists who were preparing to cover a peaceful march against the wall in al-Walajeh village near Bethlehem.

On August 3, journalist Majdolen Hasouneh was summoned for investigation at the Nablus headquarters of the preventative security service. When she refused to appear as requested, citing the summons as illegal, security services arrested two of her brothers. According to MADA, Hasouneh believes she was summoned as a result of her coverage of a solidarity sit-in with families of political detainees in Nablus.

On August 20, Radio Alarm presenter Muntaser Nassar was arrested at his home in Hebron.

Dr. Abdel Sater Qasem, a writer and academic, was arrested and held in custody after an article of his was published. He was released days later following a personal appeal from President Mahmoud Abbas.

Violations and attacks on journalists also occurred in the Gaza Strip.

According to their report, MADA “strongly condems all the Israeli violations against press freedom in the occupied Palestinian territories, particularly the illegal arrests of journalists, which stand in direct contravention to Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”

In their report, MADA called upon all institutions of the international community to intervene and help petition the release of four journalists currently held in Israeli prisons. MADA wants all parties in Israel held accountable for their continued violations.

MADA demanded that concerned authorities halt all violations and respect freedom of expression, which is “guaranteed under the auspices of Palestinian Basic Law, particularly Article 19, which states: ‘Every person shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and expression, and shall have the right to publish his opinion orally, in writing, or in any form of art, or through any other form of expression, provided that it does not contradict with the provisions of law.”

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