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April 28, 2021 - Updated on April 30, 2021

Palestinian reporter held by Israelis has been on hunger strike for past week

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls for the immediate release of Alaa Al-Rimawi, a Palestinian journalist based in the West Bank city of Ramallah who has been on hunger strike ever since his arrest by the Israeli authorities a week ago.

A reporter for Qatari broadcaster Al Jazeera, Al-Rimawi was arrested by Israeli police who were clearly looking for him when they went to his home on the night of 21 April and took him away as soon as they confirmed his identity, his wife told Al Jazeera. As he was being led away, he told her he would immediately begin a hunger strike.


Held under a three-month administrative detention order for which no grounds have been provided, he has just been placed in solitary confinement.


As well as reporting for Al Jazeera, Al-Rimawi has been hosting a programme called “Palestine Votes” on local media outlet J-Media, in which he covers the Palestinian parliamentary and presidential elections due to be held in May and June. J-Media also often covers Palestinians being held by the Israeli authorities and protests against Israeli settlements.


This is not the first time Al-Rimawi has been detained by the Israeli authorities. After his arrest in July 2018, he was held for nearly a month and, on his release, was banned from working as a journalist for two months. At that time, he ran the West Bank branch of Al-Quds, a TV channel affiliated to Hamas.


“To draw attention to his arbitrary arrest and detention, Alaa Al-Rimawi has been forced to put his life in danger by ceasing to eat,” said Sabrina Bennoui, the head of RSF’s Middle East desk. “The absence of an arrest motive confirms that there are no grounds for this journalist’s administrative detention, which should therefore be terminated at once before his health deteriorates irreversibly.”


Sabreen Diab, a Palestinian freelance journalist based in the Israeli town of Tamra, has meanwhile told RSF that the Israeli authorities have yet to return the mobile phone and laptop they seized when they arrested her three weeks ago and held her overnight. 


Her Facebook account’s username has also been changed without her knowledge, preventing her from communicating with her contacts and posting any stories on her Facebook page. Diab was accused during interrogation of being “in contact with persons and entities hostile to Israel.”


Another Palestinian journalist, freelance photographer Mohammed Atiq, was arrested by Israeli soldiers at a checkpoint while travelling by bus with his father to Jerusalem on 23 April, his father says. The family still does not know why he was arrested or where he is being held.


Israel is ranked 86th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2021 World Press Freedom Index and Palestine is ranked 132nd.