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Watchdog: Violations against Palestinian journalists in occupied territory hit peak in August

Sept. 12, 2016 8:12 P.M. (Updated: Sept. 27, 2016 7:39 P.M.)
Israeli forces seize equipment while shutting down Palestinian radio station over allegations of "incitement" (Photo: Israeli army spokesperson)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- The month of August saw the highest number of violations against media freedoms in the occupied Palestinian territory since the beginning of the year, according to Palestinian press freedoms watchdog MADA.

The group released a report Sunday saying that since the beginning of 2016, media freedoms violations increased throughout August not only in terms of quantity, but also in terms of the severity of the violations.

MADA documented a total of 41 violations over last month, followed by the month of March when 40 violations were recorded, and compared to 30 in July.

Israeli authorities committed the majority of the violations over August at a total of 26, compared to 15 violations committed by different Palestinian security apparatuses in both the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.

The most severe violation committed by Israel recorded by MADA in August was the closing of Palestinian radio station al-Sanabel, based in the town of Dura in the southern occupied West Bank village of Hebron, with Israeli authorities claiming that the radio station “incited against Israel.”

During a raid into the radio station’s headquarters on Aug 31., Israeli forces detained five employees, destroyed the contents of the offices, and confiscated transmission and broadcast equipment.

Al-Sanabel was the third media institution to be shut down by Israeli authorities since the beginning of the year, and the sixth since October 2016, according to MADA, which “exposes the rapidly escalating Israeli policy of targeting media outlets through undermining their ability to work. Such grave breaches affect many media workers, and such attacks also violate the Palestinian people’s right to information.”

MADA also highlighted in their report the extension of the administrative detention order against prominent Palestinian journalist Omar Nazzal, who had also joined a mass hunger strike among Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli custody, during which Israeli prison authorities threatened him with force feeding in contravention of international law and medical ethics.

On Aug. 3, TV correspondent for Palestine al-Youm (Palestine Today) Raghda Noureddine Atma, sustained injuries on her legs while covering a demonstration at Israel’s Ofer detention center, after an Israeli soldier fired a stun grenade at her.

Meanwhile, MADA said that one of the most severe violations committed against journalists by Palestinian authorities was the arrest of freelance journalist Ragheed Muhammad Tubbsieh, held for 18 days in the northern occupied West Bank district of Qalqiliya by Palestinian security services.

MADA’s report comes after International NGO Human Rights Watch (HRW) released a report last month documenting violations against journalists and activists by Palestinian authorities both in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, saying that both governments have been accused of inflicting “harassment, intimidation, and physical abuse” on detainees.

Earlier in August, MADA had also reported that Israeli violations against media freedoms in the occupied Palestinian territory had continued to rise at a rapid pace over the first half of 2016, even after the group reported an “unprecedented” increase in violations throughout 2015.
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