Saturday, August 08, 2020

Israeli military cracks down on freedom of press

By Lil Jackson - June 09, 2014
Section: [Main News] [Life under Occupation]
Tags: [press freedom]

Palestinian photographer Hamde Abu Rahma was assaulted by Israeli soldiers in Bil'in on Friday 6 June after he refused to stop documenting the village's weekly protest.

The Palestine TV studios were raided by the Israeli military in East Jerusalem  on Friday morning. Three staff members were detained and interrogated for half an hour before being released. 

The raid highlights the attempts made by Israeli authorities over the last two weeks to prevent both journalists and publications from printing news critical of Israel’s occupation.

According to Israeli military spokesperson Luba Samri, “police carried out searches at the headquarters of the television channel as part of an investigation into the contents of its program.”

Israeli public radio elaborated further, stating that Israeli authorities suspected that the Palestinian network, based in East Jerusalem, was broadcasting “incitements of violence.”

MADA, the Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms, reported in a press release that the Israeli military interrupted the broadcast of 'Good Morning Jerusalem’ and interrogated the program director, Nadir Paprs, the cameraman Ashraf Al- Shweesh and one of the guests on the show.

According to director of the morning program, Mai Abu Asab, the Israeli military claimed the program was not licensed and that it was inciting violence against the Israeli occupation. “All the accusations against the program are not true at all,” Abu Asab told MADA,. The program has been broadcasting legally for the last five years through the Pal Media company, which is licensed in Jerusalem.

Unfortunately this is not an isolated incident. The Ramallah offices of the Palestinian newspaper Al Ayyam were raided by the Israeli military earlier last month. Israeli military personnel ordered Al Ayyam to cease its printing of three publications connected to Hamas.  The reconciliation deal made in April between Fatah and Hamas brought the Islamist group’s publications back to West Bank newsstands just a week beforehand.

Furthermore, Friday protests in the village of Bil’in marked another effort by the Israeli military to prevent sensitive images from reaching mainstream media.   On Friday 6 June, Photographer Hamde Abu Rahma was beaten by six Israeli military soldiers after refusing to stop documenting the village's weekly protest. In an interview with Palestine Monitor, Hamde described how an Israeli military captain told him to “give me the camera or I will shoot you.”

When Hamde continued to document the Israeli military activity, six soldiers descended on him, hitting his stomach and breaking both his camera and camera lens. Upon returning to his home, where he lives with his sick mother, the military pursued him and began to fire tear gas at his residence. His second camera was broken in an effort to document the soldiers’ actions.

Instances in this vein serve to highlight the importance of freedom of press, the ability of those armed with the means to broadcast and the responsibility to report events as they happen. It is as important as ever to expose life under occupation, the untold truths, and the images that portray the reality of Palestinian suffering.  

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