Thursday, August 16, 2018

Press freedom threatened as Israel detains sixth Palestinian journalist in one week


By Myriam Purtscher - August 07, 2018
TAGS:
Section: [Main News]
Tags: [press freedom] [raids] [arrests]

Palestinian journalist Ibrahim Rantisi was detained on August 6 by Israeli forces, bringing the total of Palestinian journalists detained by Israel in one week to six. 

Rantisi, who works for the Turkish TRT television station, had is home ransacked by Israeli forces during a dawn raid at his home in Rantis, northwest Ramallah.
 
The other journalists detained in the last week include four reporters working for banned Al-Quds TV who were detained on July 30, and the director of Hawa Nablus radio station, Muhammad Muna, detained on August 1.
 
Amongst the journalists is Al-Quds TV Ramallah bureau chief Alaa al-Rimawi, who is now staging an open-ended hunger strike in protest of his detention.
 
Lawyer for the Palestinian Prisoners Society Monther Abu Ahmad confirmed al-Rimawi is protesting his imprisonment, as the grounds for his abduction and detention is his occupation as a journalist.
 
“He has gone on hunger strike on the first day of his arrest to protest his detention,” the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society said in a statement.
 
Al-Quds is a pro-Palestinian satellite broadcast channel which has been accused by the Israeli run Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center of having strong links with Hamas - the group which govern the Gaza Strip.
 
The Israeli Defence Force Spokesperson Unit said the television channel serves as a propaganda arm of Hamas, and was declared a terrorist organization in September 2017.
 
The ban imposed by the Israeli authorities on Al-Quds is supposed to concern only Israeli territory, however the arrests were carried out in the occupied West Bank, a procedure often used by the Israeli security forces.
 
Freedom of press under threat
 
Independent French NGO Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has called upon the Israeli government to release the Palestinian journalists who are being held for “purely political reasons.”
 
In a statement released on RSF’s website, Sophie Anmuth, the head of their Middle East desk said, “Palestinian journalists held solely for political reasons must be released at once.”
 
“In the absence of any proof to the contrary, these journalists have committed no crime justifying their detention, which is therefore completely arbitrary,” Anmuth said.
 
According to the Palestinian Centre for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA), the Israeli military closed a total 17 Palestinian media outlets in 2017 on the grounds they were providing footage to pro-Hamas television stations.
 
MADA also reported there has been a total of 208 Israeli attacks against media freedoms in Palestine during the first half of 2018, representing a 64 percent increase compared to the Israeli attacks in the same period in last year.

Palestine is currently ranked 134th out of 180 countries on the Reporters Without Borders World
Press Freedom Index, an annual classification comparing press freedom records around the world. Israel is ranked 87th.

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