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SKeyes Center for Media and Cultural Freedom - Samir Kassir Foundation

Freedom of Expression Violations in the Levant - February 2023

Thursday , 16 March 2023
Design: Mahmoud Younis

In February 2023, The Israeli forces targeted a total of 20 Palestinian journalists and photographers, with 16 of these attacks occurring in the West Bank alone. In addition to these assaults, several media professionals were also summoned in Lebanon and abducted in Syria, while others faced censorship in Jordan. The SKeyes Center has monitored these violations in all four countries and provided a detailed summary of each incident.

In Lebanon, MP Gebran Bassil filed a complaint against Charles Ayoub, the editor-in-chief of Addiyar, for slander and defamation after Ayoub published (02/27). Meanwhile, a group of lawyers sued several journalists over their social media posts discussing the murder of Sheikh Ahmad Al-Rifai. The accused include Kabset Zr website journalist Mariam Majdoline Lahham, Al-Markazia website journalist Joanna Farhat, freelance journalist Ziad Al-Masri, journalist and writer Tony Boulos, and journalist Ibrahim Fatfat. All of these individuals accused Hezbollah and the Lebanese Resistance Brigades in their posts (02/28). Additionally, unknown individuals broke into the National News Agency and stole the server, which contained pictures of numerous events dating back to 1961, as well as computers from the archive room of the Ministry of Information (02/27).

In Syria, masked gunmen abducted journalist Koran Azzam and his friend Ahmad Mulla in Al-Hasakah (02/26). In addition, the local council in the Damascus suburb of Qudaya filed a complaint against journalist Firas Al-Bacha, claiming that he was undermining government action (02/04).

Meanwhile, in Jordan, Amman’s governor Yaser Al-Adwan banned a play by Palestinian artist and playwright Raeda Taha (02/25). The governor cited Taha’s pride in her father, who is accused of murdering former Jordanian Prime Minister Wasfi Tall in 1971, as the reason for the ban. Additionally, unknown individuals broke into the Wasat Al-Balad office in Amman and destroyed the channel’s equipment (02/21).

In the West Bank, the Israeli forces attacked the following Palestinian journalists and photographers with live ammunition, rubber-coated bullets, teargas and stun grenades: Ayman Nubani (02/02), the Quds Network correspondent Abdallah Bahesh, the Jmedia news agency photographer Ashraf Mahmud Abu Shawish, freelance photographer Jihad Badawi, the Palestine TV team members – correspondent Bakr Abdul-Haq and photographer Yaser Hbeishe – (02/13), the Annajah satellite channel correspondent Omeir Steiteh (02/13 and 02/22), freelance journalist Ahmad Mohammad Khalaf, the Palestine TV correspondent Mohammad Al-Khatib, the Jmedia correspondent Sabri Jebril (02/22), the Al-Jazeera Mubasher photographer Hadi Majed Sabarneh, the Associated Press agency photographer Ihab issa Al-Alami, the Al-Araby Al-Jadeed newspaper correspondent Jihad Barakat and freelance journalist Saja Al-Alami (02/24), after beating some of them. The Israeli forces also prevented correspondent Abdallah Bahesh (02/24) and the SIPA USA news agency photographer Nasser Ashtieh (02/24 and 02/27) from filming. Moreover, the Israeli intelligence questioned the Snd News Agency correspondent Misaab Qfaisheh for four hours about his journalistic work (02/09).

In the West Bank, Palestinian journalists and photographers faced brutal attacks by the Israeli forces, including live ammunition, rubber-coated bullets, tear gas, and stun grenades. The list of victims includes Ayman Nubani (02/02), Abdallah Bahesh of Quds Network, Ashraf Mahmud Abu Shawish of Jmedia news agency, freelance photographer Jihad Badawi, Bakr Abdul-Haq, and Yaser Hobeish of Palestine TV (02/13), Omeir Steiteh of Annajah satellite channel (02/13 and 02/22), freelance journalist Ahmad Mohammad Khalaf, Mohammad Al-Khatib of Palestine TV, and Jmedia correspondent Sabri Jebril (02/22). Furthermore, Al-Jazeera Mubasher cameraman Hadi Majed Sabarneh, Ihab Issa Al-Alami of Associated Press, Jihad Barakat of Al-Araby Al-Jadeed newspaper, and freelance journalist Saja Al-Alami were beaten and attacked (02/24). The Israeli forces also prevented Abdallah Bahesh (02/24) and Nasser Ashtieh of SIPA USA news agency (02/24 and 02/27) from filming. Additionally, the Israeli intelligence subjected Snd News Agency correspondent Misaab Qfaisheh to a four-hour interrogation about his journalistic work (02/09).

In another incident, the Palestinian intelligence service questioned Mohammad Samreen and Mohammad Turkman, both Al-Jazeera Mubasher cameramen, over a financial transfer (02/01). Moreover, the Magistrate Court in Ramallah postponed the trial of freelance journalist Rami Samara and SKeyes correspondent Naela Khalil until April 17 (02/16). Lastly, Facebook shut down the Palestine News Network page for five days, without prior warning (02/16).

In the Gaza Strip, Israeli forces fired tear gas at freelance journalist Hassan Slayyeh and Safa news agency correspondent Hani Al-Shaer while they were covering a protest at the eastern borders of Khan Yunis. Slayyeh was injured in the shoulder, and both journalists suffered from acute suffocation (02/24).

In the 1948 Territories, Israeli border guards fired a rubber-coated bullet at Al-Jazeera channel cameraman Wael Salaymeh, injuring him in the foot (02/13). Photographer Abdallah Ibrahim was also prevented from filming in Acre by the Israeli police (02/15). The trial of journalist Lama Ghoshe was postponed again by the Jerusalem Court (02/14), and she was kept under house arrest. Additionally, journalist Hassan Shaalan received threats due to his journalistic work on (02/11).

This report was published with the support of:

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