The bloodshed in Syria overshadowed all other violations carried out on the media and cultural scene in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Palestine in July 2012. Several Syrian photographers, activists, journalists and artists were killed: sculptor Wael Kastoun was tortured to death in a detention center in Homs, citizen journalist Mohammad Hamdou Hallak was killed in Aleppo and citizen journalist Souhaib Dib in the suburb of Damascus. Al-Jazeera correspondent, Omar Khashram and Turkish photographer, Sinan Gül, were injured while covering the battles in Aleppo.
In Lebanon and Jordan, the security services and political party activists physically assaulted number of journalists, correspondents and photographers in the line of duty.
Below is a detailed summary of the violations compiled by the SKeyes Center in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and Palestine.
In Lebanon, the physical aggressions carried out against correspondents, photographers and journalists were the most striking violations of media freedom during the month of July. MTV correspondent Haytham Khawand and cameraman Jad Abou Antoun were beaten while covering a protest organized by supporters of the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) in front of the Energy Ministry; OTV correspondent Edmond Sassine and photographer Roland Khoury were also attacked while trying to help their colleagues (07/19). The security services beat Al-Diyar correspondent, Mahmoud Al-Zayat and Al-Bina’ journalist, Jamal Al-Gharbi, in Saida (07/26) and the work of an MTV crew was hampered while covering an FPM protest in Ashrafieh; the protesters tried to attack the assistant photographer to prevent him from filming (07/26). Also, Abdel-Aziz Tarekji, Chairman of the Board of the Palestinian Association for Human Rights, Rased, was assaulted in Saida.
A painting by artist Zeina Al-Khalil was removed from the Beirut Art Fair in BIEL, following pressure exerted by BIEL’s security members and Hezbollah militants (07/12) and the OTV website was hacked, in protest against the power cuts (07/28). A group of unknown people spread false political information regarding Syria on the social network Twitter, using a fake account of Al-Manar TV channel (07/19) and the two US companies Apple and Google removed from the Al-Manar TV application from their respective app stores (07/29).
Journalist Ibrahim Al-Amine, chief editor of the Al-Akhbar daily, was transferred to the Publications Court for libel and slander (07/05) and Wissam Alaeddine, one of the militants who carried out the attack against the New TV building in June, remains in custody under judicial supervision (07/04).
In Syria, several Syrian photographers, activists, journalists and artists were killed: citizen journalists Mohammad Hamdou Hallak was killed in Aleppo (07/02) and Souhaib Dib in the suburb of Damascus (07/04); sculptor Wael Kastoun was tortured to death in a detention center in Homs (07/22).
Also, Al-Jazeera correspondent, Omar Khashram and Turkish photographer, Sinan Gül, were injured while covering the fights in Aleppo (07/30), activist Salim Kabbani was arrested in Damascus (07/14) and the Second Criminal Court of Damascus postponed the judgment to be issued against media activist Sleiman Al-Shamar for the third time (07/29).
Syrian State TV host, Mohammad Al-Saeed, was kidnapped from his house in Damascus (07/20) and a fundamentalist rebel group kidnapped Dutch photographer, Yeroun Ourelmanz and British photographer John Cantley in the north of Syria (07/19) before releasing them a week later.
In Jordan, the police played a major role in the repression of journalists during the month of July 2012. Policemen beat up staff members of the Ro’ya satellite channel before driving them to the police station; they also threatened to break their camera and delete the images showing a quarrel that had taken place between them (07/06). Also, the police prevented journalist Ahmad Barahima from covering a protest in front of the Egyptian embassy, before confiscating his camera (07/01); the police also arrested number of journalists who were covering a protest in the Irbid governorate (07/05). The Jordanian Minister of Education, Fayez Al-Saudi, threatened journalist Missaab Al-Shawabka, following a report on exam fraud (07/31) and a group of unknown people stormed the Watan News website offices in Amman and destroyed the equipments (07/17).
Egyptian satellite company Nilesat cut off the broadcasts of Jordanian satellite channel Josat for financial reasons (07/26) and the Jordanian Minister of Information announced significant amendments to be introduced to media laws (07/24).
In the Gaza Strip, calm prevailed on the media and cultural scene during the month of July 2012. Only two violations were reported: unknown people beat up novelist Yehya Rabah in the center of Gaza (07/31) and the Hamas police arrested poet Mohammad Sleiman “Abu Nossairah” and questioned him in a humiliating way, following his participation in a protest against power cuts in the Gaza Strip (07/18). The Hamas security released journalist Mohammad Qneiteh after days of detention in solitary confinement.
In the West Bank, Israeli authorities continued their violations against Palestinian journalists and activists during the month of July 2012. Israeli soldiers arrested journalist Ali Obeidat before questioning him (07/01), the Ofer military court postponed the trial of the Sawt Al-Aqsa radio station correspondent, Sharif Al-Rajoub for the third consecutive time (07/23), and the Supreme Court of Israel rejected the appeal of journalist Amer Abou Arfah without giving specific reasons (07/23).
Internally, the Palestinian security carried on its violations against journalists: number of security officers beat photojournalists Saed Howari, Ahmad Audi and Ahmad Maslah, as well as journalists Issam Al-Rimawi and Mahmoud Hreibat, while covering a protest against the attack carried out on journalist Mahmoud Jradat (07/01). Also, members of the Palestinian Intelligence Service broke into the house of writer Lama Khater and arrested her husband in reaction to a series of articles she published (07/17). The Preventive Security Service arrested writer Issam Shawar in Qalqilya (07/30) and a violent campaign was launched against writer Khalil Shahin, following statements he made gave to the media (07/04).
In the 1948 Territories, the violations against media and cultural freedoms surged in July: Palestinian journalists who came to cover the press conference of US Secretary of State in Jerusalem were searched in a humiliating way, which led them to boycott the conference (07/16). Also, the Israeli police arrested journalist Ibrahim Al-Husseini and photographer Ayman Alian, both Palestinian, and prevented them from filming in Bab Al-Maghariba (The Moroccan Gate). Israeli authorities renewed for the twentieth time the order to shut down the Arab Studies Society and the Orient House (07/30).
The Broadcasting Authority asked to reconsider the possibility of fining Radio Shams (07/27) and the trial court of Nazareth postponed the trial of journalist Imad Merhi (07/10). Also, a wave of protests and criticism followed the closing of the investigation file of Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, who had previously launched a racist campaign against Arab students (07/18).
The Knesset extended the exemption made to both the police and the Shin Bet to keep audiovisual records of interrogations with suspects (07/30) and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asked the BBC to refer to Jerusalem as the capital of Israel on the Olympics’ website (07/15). A lobby for the media rights of the Palestinian Arab society of Israel was created and an Arab coalition for the Palestinians’ education and culture was formed to deal with racist decisions and violations carried out against Arabs and Palestinians.