Palestinian journalists hounded in both Gaza Strip and West Bank
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns the arrests, threats and attacks from all quarters that prevent journalists from reporting the news in Palestine. In the Gaza Strip, Palestinian security forces prevented reporters from covering peaceful protests on 4 August. In the West Bank, Israeli occupation forces have harassed more than a dozen reporters in the past three months. These are serious press freedom violations, RSF says, calling on both Israeli and Palestinian authorities to respect the public’s right to news and information and to guarantee the right of journalists to work freely.
“We want to live” is the social media slogan that has been bringing thousands of people onto the streets in the Gaza Strip since 30 July to protest against power cuts and other shortages. During one of these peaceful protests, on 4 August, RSF registered six violations of reporting freedom by the Palestinian security forces. One reporter was verbally attacked, two were arrested and three were threatened with arrest if they continued to cover the protests. These press freedom violations by Palestinian security forces were preceded by many others by Israeli forces, who have targeted 14 journalists while they were reporting during the past three months, according to the information gathered by RSF.
“Security forces are there to protect journalists, not hamper their work. Caught between Israeli occupying forces and Palestinian forces that ignore their right to report the news, journalists are doubly penalised. This climate of violence and impunity for press freedom violations must end immediately. We call on the Israeli occupation authorities and the Palestinian security forces to ensure the safety of journalists who just do their job, and to guarantee their right to practice their profession freely.”
Ihab Fasfous, a reporter for the daily newspaper Okaz, was covering one of the peaceful protests on 4 August in Khan Younis, in the south of the Gaza Strip, when Hamas-affiliated Palestinian security forces verbally attacked him and seized his mobile phone, which they returned only three hours later.
During the same protest, freelance photographer Mohammed al-Haddad was threatened by a man in civilian dress claiming to be a Hamas intelligence operative, who told him he was not allowed to take photos and ordered him to leave the area.
During a demonstration the same day in the Palestinian refugee camp in Jabaliya, in the North Gaza district, two journalists were among the many people arrested by members of the Hamas security forces that have controlled the Gaza Strip since 2007.
The two journalists were Mohammed Abdelrazeq al-Baba, a Palestinian photographer working for the Agence France-Presse news agency, and Bashar Ahmed Taleb, a freelancer. They were taken to a police station in Jabaliya, where the contents of their phones were examined and they were released 45 minutes later.
During the same protest, Hamas security forces threatened to arrest Palestine TV correspondent Fuad Jaradeh and Awdah.tv photographer Mohammad Abu Aoun if they did not stop reporting.
Meanwhile, the journalists harassed in the West Bank in mid-July included Basel Adra, a reporter for the +972 Magazine website, who was covering clashes between Palestinians and Israeli settlers in the hills south of Hebron on 15 July when Israeli soldiers arrested him, seized his phone and deleted his video of an attack carried out by an Israel Defence Forces coordinator. He was released a few hours later.
On 3 July, Alaraby TV reporter Amjad Shahada and cameraman Rabih Munir were broadcasting live from the Jenin refugee camp in the West Bank with their camera on a tripod in the street when an Israeli armoured vehicle stopped and soldiers inside began firing live rounds at the camera and the broadcasting equipment next to it. The shooting did not stop until the equipment exploded and the camera fell to the ground.
Since the start of 2023, RSF has repeatedly denounced the dangers of journalism in the Palestinian Territories, where Al Jazeera reporter Shireen Abu Akleh was fatally shot while covering an IDF raid on Jenin on 11 May 2022 – a killing that remains unpunished. Palestine is ranked 154th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2023 World Press Freedom Index.