SKeyes Center for Media and Cultural Freedom - Samir Kassir Foundation

Press and Cultural Freedom Violations in the Levant-January 2020

Thursday , 20 February 2020
During the protests in Lebanon, security forces, supporters of political parties and protesters carried out violations against media professionals. Two were hit by rubber-coated bullets, one was sprayed with tear gas, 18 were beaten, seven were injured after being hit with stones, five were prevented from covering the events and had their equipment broken, four were insulted and bullied and three were arrested. Also, a TV station was attacked with stones, while two citizen journalists and two journalists were questioned and another one summoned over tweets and social media posts. Israeli forces continued their attacks against Palestinian journalists, correspondents and photographers in the West Bank, where four were sprayed with tear gas, six arrested and one beaten. Also, the Israeli police banned a journalist and a photographer from entering Al-Aqsa, while preventing another one from filming in Jerusalem. Hamas questioned a cartoonist and sentenced a comedian to prison. Moreover, the Palestinian Intelligence Services arrested a correspondent and a photographer at the Beit Hanoun crossing in the Gaza Strip. In Syria, two correspondents were injured by shrapnel and a citizen journalist was arrested. In Jordan, a satellite TV channel was shut down for a month and a media network director was interrogated over a report.

Below is a detailed summary of the violations monitored by the SKeyes Center in the four countries.

In Lebanon, security forces, Amal Movement supporters, protesters and unknown people attacked media professionals who were covering the events or taking part in the protests. Two were hit by rubber-coated bullets, one was sprayed with tear gas, 18 were beaten, seven were injured after being hit with stones, five were prevented from covering the events and had their equipment broken, four were insulted and bullied and three were arrested. Also, Al-Jadeed TV channel headquarters was attacked with stones.

Also in January, the Anti-Cybercrime and Intellectual Property Bureau questioned filmmaker Rabih Al-Ameen again following an interview with Al-Jadeed (01/03), activist Nidal Ayoub over a Facebook post (01/07), journalist Gaby Ayoub over a tweet (01/31) and summoned journalist Fida’ Itani in the lawsuit filed against him by the Public Prosecutor (01/02). Also, the Criminal Investigation Department questioned journalist Mirna Radwan over Facebook posts (01/16) and the Public Prosecution transferred the case of Charles Jabbour to the Publications Court, in the complaint filed against him for blasphemy (01/30). Facebook also deleted a picture of a book about Qasem Soleimani, which was published on Al-Halabi bookstore page and the latter had received hate messages over the network (01/04).

In Syria, Sama TV correspondent Abdul-Ghani Jaroukh (01/20) and RT Arabic correspondent Wafaa Chabrouni (01/29) were injured by shrapnel while covering the attack carried out by the Syrian regime in the Idlib countryside. Also, the “Political opposition security” arrested citizen journalist Malek Al-Hamdo for hours in Afrin, countryside of Aleppo (01/18).

In Jordan, the Media Commission decided to shut down Dijlah TV channel for a month because it had failed to comply with the Audiovisual Media Law (01/27) and a businessman filed a complaint against Community Media Network director, Daoud Kuttab, over a press report (01/15). The Royal Court prevented the Jordan Press Association from attending media development training sessions, which sparked a wave of criticism (01/06) and the Jordanian authorities decided to reopen ¬Al-Jazeera’s office in Amman, after Jordan and Qatar restored formal diplomatic ties (01/14).

In the Gaza Strip, Hamas security forces questioned cartoonist Ismael Elbozom about his work and political activity (01/20). In addition, their intelligence services detained Donia Al-Watan newspaper correspondent, Mohammad Awad, and photographer Mohammad Al-Masri at the Beit Hanoun crossing and prevented them from covering developments taking place there (01/15). The Hamas-led military court sentenced comedian Adel Al-Mashouki to 18 months in prison on various charges (01/26) and the Khan Yunis court postponed the trial of journalist Ihab Fasfus on charges of Internet misuse for the fifth time (01/06).

In the West Bank, Israeli forces sprayed Al-Araby satellite channel cameraman Rabih Al-Mounir (01/30), as well as Palestine TV correspondent Azmi Banat and its cameramen Thaer Fqusi and Fadi Khalaf with tear gas (01/31). Also, they detained journalist Thaer Al-Sherif and beat him (01/25) and arrested Reuters correspondent Adel Abou Nehmeh, Palestine TV reporter Fathi Barahmeh, Wafa agency correspondent Sleiman Abou Srour, Roya TV reporter Hafez Abou Sabra and cameraman Wissam Abed Rabbo, to prevent them from covering developments in the Jordan Valley (01/29).

In the 1948 Territories, the Israeli police prevented cameraman Fayez Abou Rmaileh from filming in Jerusalem (01/28) and questioned photographer Abdul-Karim Darwish and journalist Amjad Arfeh about their media work; they were released on bail and banned from entering Al-Aqsa (01/24).

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