At least 17 of the journalists covering the protest in Ramallah on the evening of 13 June were roughed up by unidentified plainclothesmen working alongside Palestinian riot police. Reporters were prevented from filming, some were detained in a heavy-handed manner, and cameras were smashed.
The Palestinian Centre for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA) confirmed that this use of force obstructed coverage of an unauthorized demonstration calling on the Palestinian Authority to lift its sanctions on the Gaza Strip.
In protest against this use of force, the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate has decided to boycott any information provided by the Palestinian Authority and the security forces in the West Bank. It wants those responsible for the violence to be identified and it wants the authorities to explain what happened. The Palestinian Authority has not as yet responded.
“Using civilians who are not clearly identified, using thugs to help the police crush media coverage of a demonstration is unacceptable,” RSF said. “We call on the Palestinian Authority to quickly conduct an inquiry into this operation, which was clearly designed to prevent reporters from doing their job.”
The MADA described the operation as extremely violent. A woman journalist working for the news website Shasha was beaten and then thrown to the ground although she showed her press card.
A video posted by Al Quds TV on Twitter showed an unidentified man in civilian dress trying to grab the phone of a reporter who was filming the thugs in action. The thugs did not seem to be very concerned that he was a journalist, shouting: “You’re a journalist? Go and be a journalist at home.”
Journalists in the West Bank are the victims of the divisions within the Palestinian political class, and are constantly exposed to intimidation attempts, including frequent summonses for interrogation by the police.
The Palestinian Territories are ranked 135th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2018 World Press Freedom Index.