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Palestinian security forces assault journalists at West Bank protest
June 18, 2018
Source: Committee to Protect Journalists

The Palestinian Authority’s security forces assaulted and harassed journalists covering a protest in the West Bank city of Ramallah on Wednesday, June 13, 2018. Security forces assaulted at least five journalists and confiscated equipment during the unrest, according to news reports and the local press freedom organization, the Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA). At least one journalist was briefly detained.

The journalists were covering a protest over economic sanctions the Palestinian Authority imposed on Gaza, which is controlled by its rival, Hamas, according to Reuters. President Mahmoud Abbas banned protests over the sanctions earlier that day, according to reports.

Seth Herald, an American freelance photojournalist who was covering the unrest for the independent Israeli news magazine +972, told CPJ that a police officer ordered him to stop taking photos of an injured protester and tried to grab his camera. The journalist said several plainclothes officers dragged him to a police van, while beating him with batons and their fists, and kicking him. Herald said the police continued to beat him inside the van, and that he was detained for about an hour in the van and a further two hours at a military barracks.

Herald told CPJ that when he was taken to the barracks a man identified only to him as "the major general" asked if he was hurt and released him without charge, but said he would receive a call the following day from the U.S. consulate.

In an article for +972, a journalist named Rami Younis wrote that a Palestinian Authority police officer kicked him and confiscated his phone, along with those of several other people who were also filming the protest. Younis did not immediately respond to an email from CPJ.

Video footage that the Hamas-affiliated Quds News Network shared on its Twitter feed showed a security officer attempting to seize the phone of a reporter, who is not identified in the video, and telling the reporter to "get out of here." When the reporter identifies himself as a journalist, the officer responds, "Go be a journalist in your home, not here."

Officers tried to blindfold Heba Erakat, a reporter for the independent news website Shasha News, bound her hands, and then beat and kicked her while she was on the ground, according to her employer and MADA. Security forces beat Naela Khalil, the bureau chief for the Qatar-affiliated website The New Arab in the West Bank, according to MADA and a post on her Facebook page. The journalist said she was also affected by tear gas.

MADA reported that Jihan Awad, a reporter for Palestine Today, and Ahmed Youssef, a correspondent for the website Ultra Palestine, were assaulted and that officers confiscated Awad's phone. MADA did not provide further details of the assaults.