RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- Palestinian security forces have assaulted several journalists in the West Bank and Gaza Strip in recent days in an escalation of violations against freedom of the press, a statement from a Palestinian watchdog said Wednesday.
The Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA) said that Palestinian security forces had detained and assaulted several journalists as a result of increasing political divisions in the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
On Monday, the Palestinian intelligence service summoned local Al-Hurriyye Radio anchor Raed Shareef in Hebron and detained him from the afternoon until midnight.
A correspondent for Al-Quds Press International News Agency Khaldoun Mazloom was also detained Monday along with photojournalist Haitham Warasne and his former colleague Amr Halayqa.
In the Gaza Strip, meanwhile, members of the armed wing of the Islamic Jihad group, the Al-Quds Brigades, assaulted photojournalist Mahmoud Abu Hassira while he was covering an event in the Gaza Strip for pro-Hamas news agency Arrisala media institution.
Correspondent Tareq Al-Farra of Internews Agency was detained and interrogated by the internal security forces in the Hamas-run strip for his comments on Facebook criticizing the decision by Hamas to close down the Gaza offices of Jawwal telecom operator at the end of June.
"[The internal security forces] put me in the waiting room and blindfolded me, and told me to never sit down," Al-Farra told MADA. "They were beating me at my back and loins during the interrogation.”
The watchdog reported 48 violations against media freedoms in the West Bank and Gaza during the month of June.
Over half of the attacks were carried out by Palestinian authorities, the remainder committed by Israeli forces.
In 2014, Palestine was placed 138 out of 180 countries on the index of press freedom by Reporters Without Borders.
According to MADA, the year was the deadliest ever for journalists in the West Bank and Gaza, with 17 journalists reportedly killed by Israeli forces during the conflict in Gaza.
While around three-quarters of violations were carried out by Israeli forces -- 112 in Gaza and 239 in the West Bank -- MADA reported that violations by Palestinian security forces in 2014 were at their highest since 2008.