News

August 6, 2010 - Updated on January 20, 2016

Political tension continues to take its toll on journalists in Gaza and West Bank


There has been a new wave of harassment and violence against journalists in the occupied Palestinian Territories as the political tension between Hamas and Fatah continues to take its toll on the media. In one of the latest cases, Ahmed Fayadh of the Aljazeeranet news website was beaten by police yesterday in Khan Yunis, in the southern Gaza Strip. “The climate is becoming more and more unbearable for the media,” Reporters Without Borders said. “Not a week goes by without flagrant press freedom violations in the Gaza Strip or the West Bank. It is becoming increasingly common for journalists to be made to pay for the political rivalry between Hamas and Fatah. We urge the leaders of the Palestinian Authority and the Hamas government to act responsibly.” The press freedom organisation added: “The Gaza authorities must order an independent investigation into the attack on Ahmed Fayadh and punish the police officers involved. At the same time, the Palestinian Authorities must lose no time in releasing Dr. Farid Abu Duhair and the journalist Mohamed Anouar Miny, who were arrested arbitrarily. The journalists Amer Abu Arfa and Tareq Abu Zeid must also be freed without delay.” Khan Yunis violence Policemen attacked Aljazeeranet reporter Ahmed Moussa Abu Fayadh at around 8:20 p.m. yesterday when he went to cover a concert by the Jordanian group Tuyor Al-Janeh in the Khan Yunis sports complex that was part of a music festival for children. “They forced me to enter the stadium,” Fayadh told the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights. “One of the policemen began shouting at me, telling me to hand over my camera. I refused, saying I worked for Aljazeeranet and showing him the photos I had taken. Another policeman arrived and begangolf club, using all sorts of insults, while yet another policeman took my camera.” Fayadh added: “One of the policemen tried to intervene and calm them down, but without success. They assaulted me in front of my children, who were in tears. Another policeman arrived and asked me for my press card. I gave it to them and they left. And then I left the stadium myself.” Fayadh went to a hospital before reporting the attack to the police in Gaza City. The police chief gave him an apology and said the incident would be investigated. Heavy-handed raids In the West Bank, five employees of the Palestinian Authority’s customs department and ministry of communications and information technology went to the offices of the radio Mazaj FM bureau on 4 August and confiscated the transmitter. They claimed they had a warrant to do this, but did not show it. The raid came two days after the head of the customs department, the head of the ministry’s communications directorate and the latter’s assistant went to the headquarters of Nablus TV on the evening of 2 August and told staff to stop broadcasting at once in compliance with a ministerial decision. When the staff refused to comply, the police were summoned to enforce the order. Nablus TV employees who filmed the raid were manhandled. Their cameras were seized and the footage was deleted. The raids appeared to be a follow-up to the announcement by the ministry’s of communications on 25 July that 19 radio and TV stations would have to suspend broadcasting for a month while they brought themselves into compliance with the legislation governing licences, and that those that did not do so voluntarily would be shut down by force. The head of Nablus TV, Mahmoud Barham, issued a press release saying that the station had begun the steps required by the ministry for obtaining a licence and that he expected everything to be sorted out soon. Arbitrary arrests Members of the Palestinian Authority intelligence services went to the home of Dr. Farid Abu Duhair, the head of the Nablus bureau of the newspaper Ennajah, at around 11 p.m. on 2 August and took him away for questioning. Officials did not explain the reasons for the arrest of Duhair, who has often criticised the Palestinian Authority in his articles. He is still being held. A week earlier, the Palestinian Authority security forces arrested online journalist Mohamed Anouar Miny at his Nablus home for unknown reasons on 27 July, just two days after his release from administrative detention in Israeli prisons, where he was held for 11 months. The security forces searched Miny’s home at the time of his arrest, and seized his ID card. Miny has been arrested by the Palestinian Authority several times in the past and, according to the information obtained by Reporters Without Borders, was mistreated during these arrests. Three-month jail sentence A court in Ramallah sentenced Amer Abu Arfa to three months in prison and a fine of 500 Jordanian dinars (534 euros) on 26 July on a charge of “violating the regulations in force.” Arrested at his home in Hebron by the Palestinian Authority security forces on 11 May, Arfa is a correspondent of Shihab, a Gaza City-based news agency regarded as pro-Hamas. Another journalist is currently being held by the Palestinian Authority. It is Tareq Abu Zeid, the correspondent of the Hamas TV station Al-Aqsa, who was sentenced to 18 months in prison by a military court on 16 February although the supreme court ordered his release on 12 January. Security forces controlled by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas arrested him several times last year (http://en.rsf.org/palestinian-territories-west-bank-court-sentences-22-02-2010,36510.html). Searches The security forces in Gaza City searched the headquarters of the Union of Palestinian Journalists on 28 July and confiscated its main computer. None of the members of the union’s new bureau wanted to comment on the search. The Palestinian Authority security forces searched the Ramallah headquarters of local TV station Watan on 17 July after it broadcast footage of an Islamic Liberation Party demonstration that had been banned.