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SKeyes Center for Media and Cultural Freedom - Samir Kassir Foundation

Freedom of Expression Violations in the Levant - January 2024

Friday , 01 March 2024

In January 2024, the Israeli army killed 18 Palestinian journalists and photographers and injured eight others in the Gaza Strip, along with dozens of their family members. Additionally, 24 others were targeted in the West Bank and five in the 1948 Territories. This occurred amidst a lack of international willingness to halt to the ongoing massacre against media professionals and civilians since October 7, effectively destroying all prospects for accountability.

Below is a detailed summary of the violations monitored by the SKeyes Center in Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan.

In the Gaza Strip, the Israeli army killed hundreds of people and injured thousands more during the first month of the year, including dozens of media professionals and their family members. Among the slain journalists were Akram Al-Shafei of the Safa news agency (01/05), Ahmad Badir of the Hadf News website (01/10), Mohammad Jamal Al-Thamathini of Al-Quds Today channel (01/11), Wael Fanouna, director of Al-Quds Today (01/18), and Iyad Al-Rawagh, correspondent for Sawt Al-Aqsa and radio host (01/25). Also killed were former Palestine TV host Issam Al-Loulou (01/28), Mohammad Atallah of Al-Resalah (01/29), and freelance journalists Heba Al-Aabadla (01/09), Karam Abu Ojairem (01/21), and Mohammad Salah Al-Rantissi (01/28). Several photographers were also among the casualties, including Ali Abu Ajweh of the Fourth Estate agency, Hamza Al-Dahdouh on assignment for Al-Jazeera, Abdullah Iyad Baris of the Rawafed channel (01/07), Mohammad Abu Dayer of the Gaza Interior Ministry media office, (01/08), Yazan Al-Zuwaidi of Al-Ghad satellite channel (01/14), and freelance photographers Mustafa Thuraya (01/07), Sharif Okasha, Fouad Abu Khammash (01/10), as well as writer and researcher Ismail Jarbouh (01/06). They were killed while covering the events or as Israeli warplanes bombed their apartments.

Several other media professionals were injured, including Amer Abu Amro, cameraman for Pal Today channel (01/07), freelance photographers Abboud Hamdoun, Iyad Al-Najjar (01/05), Osama Abu Safar (01/11), as well as Ahmad Al-Borosh, correspondent for Pal Today (01/07), Wadih Abu Al-Saud, correspondent for Al-Jazeera Mubasher (01/19), and freelance journalists Hazem Rajab (01/07) and Imad Ghabbuon (01/22). Palestinian Canadian journalist Mansour Shuman was reported missing in Khan Yunis (01/19), while Amjad Arafat of Al-Ain news agency (01/12) and freelance journalist Zuhair Dahlan (01/26) were arrested. Freelance journalist Ibtissam Mahdi faced persecution while displaced from Khan Yunis (01/26). Moreover, Israeli tanks destroyed Al-Jazeera channel bureau in Burj Al-Tabbaa (01/10), and the Israeli army seized 3,000 artifacts from the Al-Isra’ University Museum (01/17).

In the West Bank, Israeli forces targeted several Palestinian journalists and photographers with live ammunition and stun grenades. Victims included Hisham Abu Shakra, photographer for Anadolu (01/04), Ahmad Nazzal, correspondent for Palestine TV (01/04), Mohammad Abed, correspondent for Quds Network, Ali Al-Sammoudi, correspondent for Al-Quds newspaper, Mashael Abu Al-Rabb, correspondent for Palestine Post, freelance journalists Mohammad Atik and Hamza Al-Zayoud (01/14), and Mashhour Al-Wahwah, photographer for Wafa (01/15). Wafa correspondent Wafa Awwad was arrested and subjected to beatings and abuse (01/04), as was Fayha Khanfar, photographer for Al-Jazeera Mubasher, who was also threatened and had her phone confiscated (01/07). Wood Msimi, correspondent for Palestine TV, and her colleague cameraman Alaa Al-Haddad were arrested and interrogated (01/22). The Israeli soldiers also surrounded several media professionals, including photographer Hisham Abu Shakra, Issam Al-Rimawi, photographer for Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Mujahid Tabnajeh, photographer for Palestine Post, freelance photographer Wahaj Bani Mefleh, Abdullah Bahesh, correspondent for Al-Quds News network, Amir Hilmi Shaheen, correspondent for Palestine TV, freelance journalists Yazan Hamayel and Shadia Bani Shamsa, and Laith Jaar, correspondent for Al-Jazeera Mubasher, who they attempted to run over along with his colleague Bahesh, before opening fire on them, targeting their car (01/13). Additionally, Israeli forces prevented correspondent Jaar and his colleague Tarek Youssef, as well as Fadi Yassin of Palestine TV and Hamza Hamdan and Mohammad Atik of Quds Feed network, from covering developments (01/03). They also attacked Raja’i Al-Khatib, correspondent for Jordan TV, breaking his car window (01/30). Furthermore, they stormed Al-Manahel printing press, vandalizing machinery and looting equipment (01/06).

In the 1948 Territories, the Israeli police arrested Tarek Taha, journalist for Arab48, for three days over Instagram posts discussing the war on Gaza (01/11), while the Israeli army detained Najwan Samri, correspondent for Al-Jazeera, and her colleague cameraman Wael Salayma, as well as Christine Rinawi of Al-Araby TV and her colleague cameraman Habib Dmeiraji, for three hours while covering the developments in Gaza (01/06).

In Lebanon, the Criminal Investigation Department summoned journalist Riad Tawk and questioned him over a complaint filed by judge Sabbouh Suleiman regarding a video criticizing his decision to lift arrest warrants against two former ministers in the August 4 Beirut port explosion case (01/18). Additionally, the LBCI administration received a complaint filed by the Ministry of Interior to cease airing the “Marhaba Dawle” satirical show, alleging it undermined the State and its institutions. However, interim relief judge Carla Shawah dismissed the case the same day (01/25). Father Joseph Al-Baysari filed a petition before judge Shawah to remove articles published on digital media platforms that accuse him of harassing children and blackmailing them with their pictures (01/30). Also, the Lebanese Forces website was hacked and rendered inactive for several hours (01/09).

In Syria, violations primarily occurred in areas controlled by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). SDF forces arrested Kurdish writer Akram Hussein in the Hasaka governorate (01/24). Furthermore, the SDF-affiliated Kurdish self-rule administration prevented several journalists from working in the areas it controls under the pretext of collaborating with the Syrian opposition media (01/08).

In Jordan, Instagram blocked the Al-Hudood account over a satirical post regarding statements by senior Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal (01/23), while Facebook shut down the Al-Ghad newspaper page over an article about Yahya Sinwar (01/25), as well as journalist Aziza Ali’s page over an article about Abu Obeida (01/28).

This report was published with the support of:

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