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SKeyes Center for Media and Cultural Freedom - Samir Kassir Foundation

Freedom of Expression Violations in the Levant - April 2023

Friday , 19 May 2023
Design: Mahmoud Younis

During the month of April 2023, a citizen journalist was killed in Syria, while another was arrested. Israeli forces and their intelligence services targeted eleven Palestinian journalists, photographers, and writers. Settlers also attacked three media professionals and hindered the work of two others. In Lebanon, violations included summonses and censorship, with Israeli forces even throwing a stun grenade near a Lebanese reporter on the southern border.

The following is a detailed summary of the violations monitored by the
Samir Kassir Foundation’s SKeyes Center in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and Palestine.

In Lebanon, the attorney of the Megaphone platform appeared before the State Security, while the attorney of The Public Source appeared before the Anti-Cybercrime and Intellectual Property Bureau. They emphasized the importance of not involving public prosecutors in publication-related cases and limiting the investigation to the Publications Court and investigative judges. This position was reiterated after the summoning of Megaphone co-founder and journalist Jean Kassir and The Public Source editor-in-chief Lara Bitar for questioning on April 3 and 6, respectively.

Furthermore, Israeli forces threw a stun grenade near Al-Manar reporter Ali Shoeib on the eastern border of the town of Hula in the south of the country on April 4. The General Security’s censorship bureau also banned the movie “Scream 6 on April 5 due to its inclusion of LGBTQIA+ characters.

In Syria, two Daesh gunmen killed Syrian citizen journalist Ahmad Al-Hussein in the Deraa countryside on April 3. The regime forces continued to suppress dissenting voices and arrested citizen journalist Omar Abdullah in the Hama countryside on April 27 after he criticized the deteriorating living conditions.

No violations were recorded on the media and cultural scene in Jordan during the month of April.

In the West Bank, there were several incidents involving Israeli forces and journalists. Journalist Abdul-Rahman Hassan was injured in the leg after being fired upon with rubber-coated bullets on April 8, while Roya cameraman Mahmoud Al-Fawzi suffered a thigh injury on April 10. Freelance journalist Mohammad Badr was arrested at his home on April 4, and Palestinian novelist Osama Al-Issa was also detained on April 20. Furthermore, the Palestine Satellite Channel cameraman Assef Nawfal was arrested at a checkpoint in Nablus on April 23.

In a troubling development, the Palestinian Public Prosecution ordered journalist Mervat Al-Azza to undergo psychological and mental examination after she filed a complaint for sexual harassment on April 16.

In the Gaza Strip, security agents at the UNRWA clinic in Jabalia beat photographer Abdul-Hakim Abu Riash, confiscated his camera, and arrested him on April 9. Additionally, Facebook and Instagram blocked access to the accounts of Nawa agency’s Shireen Khalifé on April 1, freelance photographers Mohammad Al-Hajjar on April 5, Mo’men Qurayqea on April 7, and Sawt Al-Watan radio broadcaster Abdul-Hamid Abdul-Aati on April 16, citing violations of community standards.

In the 1948 Territories, Israeli forces assaulted Al-Mayadeen channel cameraman Wehbeh Makkieh on April 8, as well as freelance journalist Seif Kawasmeh on April 25. Photographer Ibrahim Sinjlawi was prevented from carrying out his work on April 1, and citizen journalists Alaa Sweiss and Raeda Julani were arrested on April 3 and 11, respectively. The Israeli intelligence also arrested Ramzi Abbassi of Al-Bosala and Al-Sahera networks on April 2.

Moreover, on April 6, settlers assaulted Al-Araby TV crew members, correspondent Ahmad Darawsheh, and cameramen Ahmad Jaber and Ossaid Massaad. In Jerusalem, the work of an Al-Jazeera crew, composed of correspondent Najwan Samri and cameraman Wael Salayma was impeded by settlers on April 10. Finally, the trial of freelance journalist Lama Ghosheh was once again postponed by the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court on April 18, and she remained under house arrest.

This report was published with the support of:

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