Israel: Palestinian journalist sentenced, five others pending trial
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls for an end to Israel’s obstruction of Palestinian journalists and for transparency in its judicial proceedings against them after the first of six Palestinian journalists held for threatening Israel’s security was tried and convicted this week. The other five are still awaiting trial.
Lama Khater, who was interrogated for 34 days after her arrest in the West Bank on 24 July 2018 and was subjected to indefinite administrative detention thereafter, was sentenced by an Israeli court on 10 June to 13 months in prison and a fine of 4,000 shekels (1,000 euros) on a charge of “inciting hostile activities against Israel” and for alleged links with Hamas, which Israel regards as a terrorist organization.
At least two other detained Palestinian journalists are currently suspected of being in contact with Hamas. One is Mohammed Anwar Mona, who like Khater was arrested in the West Bank in July 2018. The other is Mustafa Al-Kharouf, an East Jerusalem-based photographer who is facing deportation.
To justify administrative detention and to keep extending it, the Israeli authorities cite security grounds and systematically claim to have “classified files” proving that these journalists are linked to Hamas. RSF has nonetheless learned that, during interrogation, these journalists are always asked about their journalistic work.
“The fact that the interrogation of Palestinian journalists focuses on their work suggests that the Israeli authorities arrest them in connection with their journalism, not on security grounds and the reference to ‘classified files’ has no basis in fact,” RSF’s Middle East desk said. “The Israeli judicial system’s proceedings need to be more transparent and it must stop assuming that Palestinian journalists sympathize with terrorist groups.”
Israel is ranked 88th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2019 World Press Freedom Index.