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SKeyes Center for Media and Cultural Freedom - Samir Kassir Foundation

Freedom of Expression Violations in the Levant - March 2024

Thursday , 18 April 2024

The Israeli army continued its relentless assault on Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip, resulting in devastating consequences. Ten journalists, two photographers, and an artist were among the casualties, with 12 others sustaining injuries and eight being arrested. Notably, two buildings housing media and cultural institutions were destroyed by Israeli warplanes. Additionally, the Israeli offensive targeted 14 journalists in the West Bank and the 1948 Territories.


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


In the Gaza Strip, numerous journalists, photographers, writers, and artists, along with their families, lost their lives as their homes were demolished. Among them were Mohammad Salama from Al-Aqsa satellite channel (03/05), freelance journalist and filmmaker Wala’ Saadeh (03/02), Abdul-Rahman Sayma, a cameraman and producer for Raqami TV (03/14), freelance photographer Mohammad Al-Rifi (03/15), Mahmoud Imad Issa from Al-Quds Today, journalist and office director Bassam Hassouna of the ministry of Culture (03/20), Saher Rayan of Wafa news agency (03/24), Ola Lubbad from Al-Rai’ (03/26), Mohammad Abu Sakhil, a radio host for Sawt Al-Quds (03/28), freelance journalist Abdul-Wahab Abu Aoun (03/30), and artist Sahar Al-Husri (03/18).


Furthermore, Mahmoud Haniyeh, a journalist from Al-Resalah newspaper, and its editor Khaled Bnat, were injured (03/02), alongside freelance journalist Hussam Shbat (03/08), freelance TV cameraman Ali Abu Harbid (03/26), freelance photographer Majdi Fathi, freelance journalist Mohammad Abu Dahrouj, Naaman Shtiwi, director of APA Images agency, and his colleague Ali Hamad, freelance photographer Hazem Muzid, freelance journalist Nafez Abu Labda, Ali Al-Madhun, correspondent for Al-Quds Today channel (03/31), and comedian Mahmoud Khamis Sharrab (03/27).


Additionally, writer Rami Abu Zbaidi (03/03), freelance journalist Mahmoud Oleiwa (03/18), Youssef Sharaf from Shehab news agency (03/18), TV director Ahmad Ajjour (03/20), Mohammad Arab, a journalist associated with Al-Araby TV (03/21), Ismail Al-Ghoul from Al-Jazeera channel, as well as Samer Tarzi and Rami Al-Rifi, respectively , executive director and broadcast engineer from National TV Production Corporation, were detained for twelve hours (03/18). The Israli army also raided the residence of Hassan Dawhan, a journalist from Al-Hayat Al-Jadida newspaper, and apprehended his son (03/04). Imad Al-Franji, general director of Al-Quds satellite channel, was reported missing (03/18). Furthermore, Israeli warplanes destroyed the Nehma tower (03/02) and the Khdeir building (03/27), both housing several media and cultural institutions in Gaza. Meanwhile, Facebook suspended the account of freelance journalist Motaz Azaiza for alleged violations of community standards (03/15).


In the West Bank, Israeli forces used live ammunition against AFP photographer Mohammad Awad, freelance journalist Mohammad Al-Farari, and Audeh satellite channel cameraman Youssef Madi Shehada (03/22). Additionally, journalist Bushra Al-Tawil was arrested and physically assaulted (03/07), and later received a six-month administrative detention order. Walid Zayed, a journalist working for Al-Jazeera Mubasher satellite channel, had his trial postponed until June 4 (03/18). Freelance journalist Rola Ibrahim was also arrested, with her trial deferred until April 2 (03/19). Furthermore, the administrative detention of Moaz Amarneh, a photographer from Jmedia agency, was extended for four months (03/10), and the administrative detention sentence against Sami Al-Saai from Al-Jazeera Mubasher channel was confirmed for four months (03/31). Moreover, the trial of Mohammad Al-Atrash, host of Alam radio station, was postponed until April 8 (03/03).


Additionally, Israeli settlers attacked the vehicle of Khaldoun Mazloum, a reporter from Sanad news agency (03/08), while freelance journalist Ahmad Hamed Al-Beitawi was arrested by Palestinian intelligence while covering a solidarity demonstration for Gaza (03/29).


In the 1948 Territories, Israeli police arrested freelance photographer Ibrahim Sinjlawi (03/11), photographer Mustafa Al-Kharouf, who works for Anadolu agency, Diala Jweihan, correspondent for Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (03/15), and freelance journalist Bassem Zidani (03/17). Teargas was fired at freelance journalist Seif Qawasmi (03/28), who was also subjected to a smear campaign by settlers and extremists following a report on tunnels under a Jerusalem house (03/14).


In Lebanon, writer and scholar Makram Rabah was summoned by General Security and interrogated for five hours over a TV interview where he criticized Hezbollah (03/18). Similarly, Osama Al-Qadiri, publisher of Manachyr website, was summoned by the Zahleh investigation unit over an article but refused to comply. Furthermore, Rawad Taha, a journalist from LBCI channel, faced a smear campaign and accusations of espionage after airing a report critical of the Hamas movement and the Al-Aqsa Flood operation (03/15).


In Syria, violations occurred in areas under Kurdish control or at the hands of the Tahrir Al-Sham group. Members of the Ahrar Awlan brigade assaulted citizen journalist Jalal Al-Tilawi in the Aleppo countryside (03/11), while a member of the committee organizing protests, affiliated with Tahrir Al-Sham group, attacked citizen journalists Said Said, Ali Al-Issa, and Alaa Al-Youssef covering a demonstration in Idlib (03/15). Furthermore, a member of Asayish, affiliated with the Kurdish Democratic Union Party, assaulted citizen journalist Marwa Nassif and seized her equipment in Raqqa (03/15), and an armed group associated with the Kurdish-run Autonomous Administration arrested Kurdish journalist Rakan Ahmad after raiding his house in the Hasakah countryside (03/29).


In Jordan, journalist Kheireddine Al-Jabiri, working for the ArabicPost agency in Istanbul, was arrested by security services while visiting Jordan and was transferred to the Cybercrime Unit for his participation in demonstrations in front of the Israeli embassy in Amman to show solidarity with Gaza, despite being among the organizers. He was released on bail by the Amman administrative governor five days after his arrest, and his trial is scheduled for April 1.

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