SKeyes Center for Media and Cultural Freedom - Samir Kassir Foundation

Violations of Press and Cultural Freedom in the Levant-June 2019

Monday , 10 June 2019
In Syria, intimidation and murders resumed during the month of June 2019. A citizen journalist was killed in a car bomb attack and two others were injured during the shelling of the Hama province by regime forces, while the Kurdish security organization Asayish arrested a media correspondent. Israeli forces continued to attack Palestinian journalists and photographers with teargas and live ammunition. As a result, four of them were injured in Gaza and six others in the West Bank. In addition, the Israeli police assaulted a journalist and questioned a photographer before keeping him away from the Al-Aqsa mosque in the 1948 Territories. As for the Hamas police, it interrogated a journalist, while unknown people threatened another in the West Bank. In Lebanon, gunmen beat a photographer, the intelligence services questioned a journalist, the Anti-Cybercrime and Intellectual Property Bureau summoned three citizen journalists and questioned a fourth one, while a female journalist was threatened with rape. In Jordan, two journalists were insulted and the security forces detaineed three others.
Below is a detailed summary of the violations monitored by the SKeyes Center in the four countries it monitors.
In Lebanon, armed bodyguards of the Lebanese Democratic Party leader, MP Talal Arslan, beat Richard Sammour, a photographer for the local daily Al-Joumhouria in Khaldeh (06/30) and the intelligence services questioned journalist Khalil Mardas (06/22). Also, the Anti-Cybercrime and Intellectual Property Bureau questioned citizen journalist Ali Ismail (06/13) and summoned activists Wadih Al-Asmar, Zeina Helou and Nada Nassif (06/03). Journalist Dima Sadek was violently attacked on Twitter and even threatened with rape after she published a tweet on her social media accounts (06/24).

In Syria, citizen journalist Omar Al-Dimashki succumbed to his wounds six days after unknown people planted an explosive device under his car in the village of Sarmada near Idlib (06/23). Also, citizen journalists Abdul-Aziz Najem and Tarek Al-Ibrahim were injured during the bombing of the Hama province by the regime forces (06/05) while the Kurdish security organization Asayish arrested the Syrian News Channel correspondent, Mohammad Al-Saghir, in Al-Hasakah (06/04).

In Jordan, the security forces arrested the Al-Ordon Al-Yoom journalist, Obeida Abdo, and his two colleagues Ali Khalaf and Qutaiba Momani, while they were covering a protest; they were released several hours later (06/09). Also, Jordanian journalists Omer Ayasra and Hassan Barari were victims of an intimidation campaign launched by Saudi 24 TV through one of its shows because of their anti-Saudi views (06/20).

In the Gaza Strip, Israeli forces fired a rubber-coated bullet on German author, journalist and politician Jürgen Todenhöfer, which caused him a shoulder injury (06/14). They also used live ammunition to target photographers Raed Madkour and Ikhlas Alkrenawi, who were both wounded. Also, cameraman Mohammad Kassab was injured in the head after being sprayed with teargas (06/28). Internally, the Hamas police questioned journalist Ahmad Saeed over Facebook posts (06/19).

In the West Bank, Israeli forces continued their violations against Palestinian media professionals. Photographer Nidal Ashtieh was injured after being hit with two rubber-coated bullets (06/28), while journalists Ibrahim Al-Rantisi, Firas Taneineh, Zaib Hourani, Imad Saeed and Fatima Abdelkarim suffered burns and suffocation after being sprayed with teargas (06/25). They also prevented journalist Omar Nazzal, a member of the General Secretariat of the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate from travelling under the pretext of a “secret file” (06/10). Moreover, unknown people threatened to attack the family of journalist Nizar Habach after he published a report about unlicensed beauty salons in the West Bank (06/12).

In the 1948 Territories, members of the Israeli Special Forces Unit attacked journalist Firas Debs and prevented him from filming in the Al-Aqsa mosque (06/02), while the police summoned photographer Saeed Alrukn, before questioning him and deciding to keep him away from Al-Aqsa for 15 days (06/01). It also banned a cultural festival in Jerusalem under the pretext that it is affiliated with the Palestinian Authority (06/21), while an unknown person destroyed the rear window of journalist Ezzedine Nehme’s car in Galilee (06/09).

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