Unfortunately, the Palestinian journalists who are held in the jails of Hamas and the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah and other West Bank cities are more likely to be tortured than the Palestinian journalists who are held in the Israeli military jails. The Palestinian Authority has committed crimes against journalism and the freedom of speech. They held and tortured nine journalists, and have closed two newspapers, “Palestine” and “Al-Risala”. The Hamas in Gaza has also committed crimes against journalism and journalists, they hold three Palestinian journalists from “Al-Hadath Press”, and they have caused lots of troubles for many other journalists. They also took several times illegal steps which hindered the distribution of the newspapers from Ramallah and Jerusalem.
Shame on the Palestinian Authority and shame on Hamas, who are not better than the Israeli occupation in how they deal with Palestinian journalists. I remind both the PA and the ministerial employees of Salam Fayyad in Ramallah and the Hamas Authority in Gaza that the Palestinian journalists who are held illegally in the Israeli occupation jails under administrative arrest are not tortured like the journalists who are held under your criminal power and continue being tortured for political reasons.
I add my voice to the President of International Federation of journalist, general secretary Dr. Aidan White, who issued a statement on October 31, 2008, asking both Palestinian sides to free the imprisoned journalists without conditions.
I also ask the illegal Israeli occupation to free the Palestinian journalists who they hold under administrative arrest since many years. Personally, I remind both the PA and Hamas, that holding journalists is inhuman and illegal, and puts their regimes in one group together with the criminal terrorists of the Israeli occupation. I ask the International journalist organizations to play an active to end this crime against the Palestinian journalists who are held in jails for political reasons and for pursuing their holy journalistic mission honestly. It should be possible to bring these criminal authorities before the International Criminal Court if they do not free these journalists.
The names of the journalists who were jailed because they were exercising their work as journalists are mentioned after the Press release of the IFJ below.
Press Release of the Secretary General of the International Federation of Journalists, Dr. Aidan White.
October 31, 2008
Palestinian Journalists Held in Power Struggle Must be Freed Says IFJ
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today called for the immediate release of Palestinian journalists who are being held by the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Hamas as part of the political power struggle. The call comes as both sides prepare for new talks to break the political deadlock.
“For months, Palestinian journalists have been used as pawns in the ongoing dispute between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas,” said IFJ General Secretary Aidan White. “Both sides claim journalists are a “security risk” but it is little more than a device for intimidation, media control and political in-fighting.”
Currently there are 11 Palestinian journalists in prisons: eight held by the PA in the West Bank and three held by Hamas in Gaza. Most of them are being held because they worked for media organisations of rival political factions. Security forces on both sides deny this, but not one journalist has been charged or brought to trial.
At least one journalist, Osaid Amarneh from Hebron, was held and then released but only after he agreed to stop working for Hamas media in the West Bank. He signed a document promising the PA he would stop working for Hamas media organization Al Aqsa TV. Media on both sides are also being targeted. Newspapers from the rival parties are banned on both sides and the offices of Palestine TV in Gaza and Al Aqsa TV in the West Bank are still closed.
Palestinian journalists will stand in solidarity with their colleagues and defend their freedom and right to work freely on November 5, a global day of action “Stand Up for Journalism” in defence of journalists’ rights organised by the IFJ. In the Middle East and North Africa region, journalists will mark the day with events promoting their campaign for press freedom, “Breaking the Chains.”
On November 9 a Palestinian national dialogue will start between Hamas and Fatah in Cairo. The IFJ is renewing calls for both governments to end the campaign against media and to free all journalists as part of the new dialogue.
Lists of some of the journalists who are held illegally in PA, Hamas and Israeli occupation jails follow.
Palestinian Prisoners detained in Hamas jails in Gaza are:
- Akram Al-Llouh, director of Al-Hadath Press
- Josef Fayad and Hani Ismael from Al-Hadath Press.
For some time Hamas prevented the Palestinian newspapers Al-Ayyam and Al-Hayat Al-Jadidah to be distributed in Gaza. Hamas accused the PA security systems of assassinating three journalists.
- On 15 May 2007, Suleiman Al-Ashe and Mohammad Abdo from Palestine Press and Isam Al-Jojo were killed after the PA security kidnapped them on 12 May 2007.
Some of the Palestinian journalists illegally detained by the PA are:
- Musab Hosam Al-Din Katloni from Nablus, age 24, jailed on 5 March 2008.
- Ala’a Al-Titi from the Al-Fawar refugee camp south of Hebron.
- Asiad Amarneh from Hebron was arrested several times by the PA security and accused of damaging the national security through his journalistic work. After a PA court found him not guilty he was and arrested again by the PA security in May 2008.
- Mohammad Al-Kik from Hebron was arrested several times by the PA, the last time he was arrested while exercising his journalistic duties a during a demonstration against the closure of the charities in Hebron by the Israeli occupation.
- Mohammad Al-Halaika, Beni Neim/ Hebron
- Mohammad Athba and Nimer Hindi, both photographers, were arrested in May 2008 by the PA security.
Palestinian journalists under administrative arrest in the Gulag of the Israeli Occupation:
- Sami Asi from Nablus
- Walid Khaled, director of the “Palestine” newspaper from Salfit
- Tariq Abu Zeed, who was arrested by the PA security
- Mohammad Al-Halayka
- Jihad Dawood
- Nizar Ramadan.