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SKeyes Center for Media and Cultural Freedom - Samir Kassir Foundation

Freedom of Expression Violations in the Levant - December 2022

Tuesday , 17 January 2023

Several attacks were carried out against Al-Jadeed channel in Lebanon during the month of December 2022, while the Israeli authorities targeted 15 Palestinian journalists in the West Bank. In Jordan, censorship was in full swing again.

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

In Lebanon, several attacks were carried out against the Al-Jadeed television station. The channel’s “Fashit Kheleq’” show presenter Dalia Ahmad and actress Joanna Karaky were victims of a social media incitement and harassment campaign, after a satirical segment in response to the killing of an Irish peacekeeping soldier in South Lebanon. Militants threw a Molotov cocktail at the channel’s building (12/27). The next day, unknown gunmen opened fire on the building and two days later, more gunshots hit several floors including a publishing house, Dar Al-Farabi.

Also, journalist and writer Tony Boulos received death threats on social media (12/17) after he published a tweet in which he blamed Hezbollah for the murder of the Irish UNIFIL soldier. Furthermore, censorship authorities banned the release of the Christmas carol “The first Noël” by Bruno Tabbal and Cynthia Karam due to the lyrics, which included the phrase “King of Israel” (12/23).

In Syria, most violations were carried out in Aleppo, where the military justice affiliated with the Syrian regime arrested Rida Basha over a publication about the “fuel mafia” (12/12), while the opposition’s military police arrested citizen journalist Mohammad Zein Al-Abideen in the Aleppo countryside because of publications in which he criticises developments in Turkish politics (12/05). The regime-affiliated governor of Latakia prevented public administrations in the province from giving information to any media outlet (12/06).

In Jordan, the Cybercrime Unit suspended the TikTok social media application for alleged misuse (12/16) and the media commission ordered media outlets to censor comments posted by citizens (12/20), while several governorates witnessed protests. Also, the Irbid public prosecutor issued a gag order in the case of a 17-year-old girl charged with the murder of three family members (12/24).

Moreover, the security services arrested journalist Khaled Al-Majali on charges of incitement, libel, and slander (12/18) and the public prosecutor released him the next day. The police arrested journalist Ahkam Al-Dajani who was filming a protest in Amman and released her an hour later (12/15).

In the West Bank, several media professionals suffered suffocation after the Israeli forces attacked them with teargas east of Nablus: Palestine TV crew members – correspondent Mohammad Al-Khatib and photographer Fadi Al-Jayussi, Al-Jazeera Mubasher cameraman Mohammad Samreen, Palestine Post correspondent Mujahid Tabnaja, Pal Today photographer Jihad Badawi, J-media photographer Laith Jaar, and PNN correspondent, Abdallah Bahesh. The Israeli forces also arrested freelance journalist Moatasem Samara and questioned him about his journalistic work (12/01) before releasing him 13 days later. They also arrested freelance photographer Abdul-Rahman Hassan (12/08), Al-Quds Al-Ikhbariya network photographer Motasem Saqf Al-Hait and Pal Post correspondent Saja Al-Alami (12/20).

In the Gaza Strip, the Hamas-affiliated security services arrested Nawa journalists Marah Al-Wadiya and Islam Al-Astal before questioning them about a report titled “Academics who betrayed trust” (12/28). The tourism police banned a music performance during a celebration held on Human Rights Day under the pretext of not having a permit (12/11).

In the 1948 Territories, the Israeli police tried to prevent a concert organised by artist Tamer Naffar (12/17), while the Jerusalem court postponed the trial of journalist Lama Ghosheh and extended her house arrest after her conditional release last September (12/20).

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