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SKeyes Center for Media and Cultural Freedom - Samir Kassir Foundation

Freedom of Expression Violations in the Levant - January 2023

Thursday , 16 February 2023

Violations continued against media institutions in Lebanon and journalists in Palestine. Unknown people threw a bomb at the LBCI headquarters, while the Israeli forces targeted seven media professionals with live ammunition and five others with rubber-coated bullets in the West Bank. The Syrian Democratic Forces arrested two German photojournalists in Al-Hasakah countryside.

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

In Lebanon, unknown people threw a bomb at the LBCI headquarters in Adma (01/22) following a smear campaign led by pro-Hezbollah social media users against the channel and stand-up comedians Mohammad Al-Dayekh and Hussein Kaouk over a satirical video (01/20). Also, unknown people opened fire around journalist Mohammad Awad’s car in the airport tunnel (01/11).

A parliament police agent threatened MTV reporter Ghadi Bou Moussa (01/27) and Mount-Lebanon Prosecutor Ghada Aoun summoned MTV online journalist Rami Naim without giving any reasons (01/30).

In Syria, The SDF-affiliated Asayish arrested two German photojournalists, including Sebastian Backhaus, in the city of Qamishli, under the pretext that they filmed military positions (01/23). Moreover, an Aleppo Court sentenced Syria State TV correspondent Shady Helwa to six months in prison (01/25).

In Jordan, photojournalist Amir Khalifeh was beaten while covering a meeting organised by the association of foreign workers’ recruitment offices after he had an argument with one of its members (01/) and Jordanian Parliament Speaker decided to ban media outlets from attending and covering the budget discussion sessions (01/10).

In the West Bank, the Israeli forces fired live ammunition at freelance photographer Hassan Qamhiya, Saba News Agency cameraman Nasser Ashtieh (01/12), Roya TV crew members Hafez Sabra and Mahmoud Fawzi, J-media agency photographer Laith Jaar (01/26), Al-Jazeera Mubasher photographer Mohammad Samreen, and freelance photographer Wahaj Bani Mufleh (01/28). They also fired rubber-coated bullets at photographer Laith Jaar, Quds News Network cameraman Abdallah Bahesh, Al-Qastal agency correspondent Ayman Kawarik, Al-Jazeera Mubasher cameraman Mohammad Turkman, and freelance photographer Mohammad Thabet (01/25). They also arrested photographer Wahaj Bani Mufleh and Al-Araby TV cameraman Rabih Al-Munayyir for three hours (01/13). Moreover, the Israeli forces expelled Al-Jazeera Mubasher cameraman Ahmad Al-Halayka from Beit Ummar where he was filming a report (01/29). A settler tried to run over photographer Abdallah Bahesh, Pal Post agency correspondent Mujahid Tabnaja, and freelance photographer Jihad Badawi (01/16).

The Palestinian security forces beat photographer Mohammad Turkman (01/10), while Al-Hayat Al-Jadida daily dismissed cartoonist Mohammad Sabaana over a drawing in which he criticises Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas (01/25). Furthermore, Alam radio station journalist Mohammad Al-Atrash was victim of a smear campaign over TV interviews (01/07) and the Quds News Network Facebook page was subjected to a similar campaign (01/19).

Facebook shut down Raya FM station’s official page for two days and the Bethlehem 2000 page for a day (01/30).

In the Gaza Strip, the Hamas-affiliated security services continued their violations against journalists during the month of January. Freelance journalist Ahmad Said was questioned over “Internet misuse” after he posted a video on Facebook (01/22) and the Interior Ministry prevented the “Filastiniyat” organisation from holding a panel to discuss an investigative report inside its headquarters (01/17).

In the 1948 Territories, no direct violations were monitored during the month of January 2023.

This report was produced with the support of:

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