Israel’s Crackdown On Journalists In Palestine

The stories of Halawani, Wahbi Mekkiyeh, and Beiduri speak about the everyday harassment Palestinian journalists have to go through while working in the presence of an “apartheid” state.

Israeli authorities are trying to silence the Press by detaining more than a dozen journalists as they were attempting to report the on-the-ground situation in extremely dangerous conditions.

Recently, the forces brutally assaulted and detained three Palestinian journalists Zeina Al- Halawani, Givara Ishaq Budeiri along Wahbi Mekkiyeh, a photojournalist. This happened when they were trying to cover the protests over the illegal evictions of Palestinian residents in Sheikh Jarrah from their homes by the Israeli settlers.

Zeina Al-Halawani being detained by the Israeli forces.

It should be noted that the IOF’s attack on journalists was not the first of its kind, as just two weeks ago, the IOF arrested Halawani and Mekkiyeh when they were making a report on forces violations in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood. The IOF has banned the entry of journalists with Palestinian Press cards, affiliated with Palestinian news agencies to restrict their presence and coverage to alter the on-ground narrative from the occupied city.

Halawani stated Israel is using its propaganda to silence the assaults and everyday harassment Palestinian residents face at the hands of Israelis settlers.

“The occupation forces tried to manipulate their statements; they assaulted me and my colleague Mekkiyeh. The Israeli authorities are punishing for reporting their on-ground crimes,” she added.

However, both were later released by Jerusalem’s Central Court on a bail of 4,000 shekels and ordered to be under house arrest for over a month, forbidding them, to converse with one another for 15 days.

The Human Rights Watch issued a report on the discriminatory policies of the Israeli government against the Palestinian residents and stated the violations perpetrated against media freedom. The report cited the work of the Palestinian watchdog groups like the statutory independent Commission for Human rights and the Palestinian Centre for Development and media freedom, and criticized the civilian journalists and detaining of journalists with no judicial process, in violation of Palestinian law.

While Mekkiyeh was just snapping pictures of the on-ground incidents, the forces snatched her camera and continued shouting in aggression.

“The way they tried to threaten me, makes me realize how intimidated they were just because of my profession, I was at work documenting the truth, the camera I hold in my hand is a weapon against these colonizers. The occupation forces claimed that I tried to obstruct the arrest of my colleague Zeina and I assaulted their army, said Mikkiyeh.

The videos broadcasted made by activists showed, Israel’s driven inhuman assaults on these journalists, as they were roughly beaten and humiliated for their press coverage, it drew deep condemnation from press fraternity and media watchdogs from across the globe.

This was followed by the recent arrest of Al Jazeera correspondent Givara Ishaq Budeiri (45) while she was documenting the ongoing incidents that took place in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood.

Israeli forces arrest Al Jazeera journalist, Givara Budeiri, during a protest in the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah, June 5. — AP

Budeiri, holds an Israeli Government Press Office card (GPO) and has been working as a journalist for Al Jazeera since 2000. She was detained despite wearing a flea jacket marked “press”, and was on duty reporting for the Doha-based media network, on the mark of the 54th anniversary of the Naksa (Arabic) explanation “setback”, a term denoting to define the Israeli occupation of East Jerusalem, West Bank, and Gaza strip in 1967.

She was humiliated and targeted at the police station and was prevented from removing her heavy flak jacket. As stated to Al Jazeera she said, “The police falsely accused her of kicking a female soldier.” Buderi was later released on account of not going to the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood for the next 15 days.

“They kicked me inside the car in a very bad way, they kicked me to the point I have a fracture now,” Budeiri told right after her release late on Saturday.

“I have bruises on my body parts where I was beaten by the police forces,” she instructed the Al-Jazeera as she described the horrible conditions in jail.

According to a report stated in the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) eyewitnesses, and testimonies stated by Al-Buderi while covering the incidents in Sheikh Jarrah she was ordered by the IOF to show her press card, despite knowing that she is a well-known journalist.

Footages went rounds over the internet showcasing Buderi being grabbed by her five female soldiers violently grabbed her arm detaining her near a wall.

As a report in the Palestinian Centre for Human rights (PCHR) points out the escalation of attacks in 2021 states IOF as the number one enemy of the press during this year, in occupied Jerusalem during the offensive destruction of 23 press offices of local and international organizations The destroyed Press offices housing four media companies. Moreover, three journalists were injured while covering the bombardments in the Gaza strip.

Attack on the Press freedom

This is not the first time Israel has targeted the media fraternity. Several Palestinian journalists, affiliated with international media organizations have been snatched and devoid of their reporting rights, as Israeli forces claim them of “incitement of violence”.

Reporters without Borders reported that 13 Palestinian journalists were being held in Israeli “administrative detention”, or detention without trial.

On May 21, an Israeli judge ordered an 11- day extension to the administrative detention of another Palestinian journalist, Al Ghad TV cameraman Hazem Nasser, was arrested at an Israeli checkpoint at the entrance to the West Bank town of Tulkarem, on his way back from filming a crackdown by Israeli soldiers on Palestinian protesters in Nablus, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) reported.

“Israel has been ranked 86 out of 180 nations, based on CPJ’s World Press Freedom Index for 2021, accused the Israeli authorities of “hounding Palestinian journalists”, the report added.

“The Israeli military violates the rights of Palestinian journalists, whenever they are covering demonstrations in Sheikh Jarrah,” Sabrina Bennoui, spokesperson for RSF said.

A report published by the Palestinian Center for Human Rights was documented by Israeli forces against the journalists.

“At least 40 journalists were injured while reporting on ground incidents and 40 were assaulted with evidence of cruel, inhumane, and degrading treatment,” it added.

Meanwhile, the bombardment and complete destruction of two media towers housing Al-Jazeera Media Company by IOF warplanes were the most prominent during the reporting period, precisely during the military escalation on the Gaza strip in May 2019.

The bombardment and destruction of two media and cultural institutions by IOF warplanes were the most prominent during the reporting period, particularly in the military escalation on Gaza in May 2019.

In the year 2020, MADA monitored and reported 408 violations of the media in the occupied West Bank along with East Jerusalem and the Gaza strip.

“215 violations were committed by the Israeli authorities while various Palestinian authorities committed a total of 6 violations in the west bank and Gaza,” the report added.

Despite their ordeal, the stories of Halawani, Mekkiyeh, and Budeiri speak about the everyday harassment Palestinian journalists have to go through while working in the presence of an “apartheid” state, as they continue to publish and showcase the truth in the face of settler colonialism.

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