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SKeyes Center for Media and Cultural Freedom - Samir Kassir Foundation

Freedom of Expression Violations in the Levant - February 2024

Monday , 25 March 2024

The massacre against Palestinian civilians continued unabated at the hands of Israeli soldiers in the Gaza Strip throughout February 2024. Hundreds were killed or injured in airstrikes or artillery shelling, including ten journalists, two photographers, and two artists, along with dozens of their family members. Two others were arrested and three were threatened by settlers and intelligence officers. Moreover, the Israeli army carried out violations against 11 media professionals in the West Bank and four others in the 1948 Territories.

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

In the Gaza Strip, ten journalists, photographers, and artists were added to the list of Palestinian civilians killed by the Israeli army since October 7, 2023: Zakaria Abu Ghali, the correspondent for Al-Quds Today channel, Rizq Al-Gharabli, the director of the Palestinian Information Center (02/06), Nafez Abdul-Jawad, a journalist for Palestine TV (02/07), Rahaf Hnaideq, a Palestinian writer and intellectual (02/10), Yasser Mamduh Al-Fadi, a journalist for Kinan News agency (02/11), Alaa Al-Hams, a freelance journalist (02/12), Ayman Al-Rifati, a columnist, Motaz Al-Ghifri, a freelance journalist (02/14), Zeid Abu Zayed, the director of Islamic University-affiliated Quran Radio (02/15), Ihab Nasrallah, a freelance journalist (02/21), Mohammad Yaghi, a freelance photographer (02/22), Mohammad Abu Karash, a freelance photographer (02/26), Mahmoud Al-Drini, an artist (02/12), and Fathi Ghaban, an artist (02/25).

Additionally, Ismail Abu Omar, a correspondent for Al-Jazeera channel, and his colleague cameraman Ahmad Matar (02/13), as well as Wissam Zoghbor, the bureau director for Al-Hurriah (02/10), Mohammad Salameh, a freelance photographer (02/15), Abdullah Al-Hajj, a UNRWA photographer, and Mahmoud Abu Zeaiter, an artist (02/23), were wounded. Dozens of their family members were killed or injured after their homes were bombed.

Moreover, the Israeli army arrested journalists Ali Abu Rich (02/01) and Amr Abu Rideh (02/15) and completely demolished the Press House (02/11). It also raided the headquarters of Sawt Al-Watan radio station, destroying its equipment and archives (02/13).

The Israeli intelligence and settlers launched a smear campaign against freelance journalist Hassan Eslayeh (02/05), Mohammad Wishah, Al-Jazeera Mubasher correspondent (02/12), and Saleh Al-Jaafarawi, a freelance journalist (02/16), due to their coverage of Gaza. Artist Mahmoud Abu Hani disappeared while attempting to return to the northern part of the Gaza Strip (02/03).

In the West Bank, Israeli forces targeted Palestine TV crew members Elham Fathi Hdeib, a correspondent, and Adel Abu Nehme, a cameraman, with tear gas (02/29). They also beat freelance photographer Wahaj Bani Mufleh before arresting him for questioning (02/12). They arrested Siqal Youssef Kaddoum, a Palestine TV correspondent, for ten days before forcibly deporting her to the Gaza Strip (02/01), as well as Sam Al-Shami, a correspondent for Quds News Network (02/25), along with freelance journalists Hamza Mohammad Al-Safi (02/09), Sami Al-Saai (02/23), and Amer Al-Shaludi (02/25). Moreover, settlers arrested Palestine TV crew members Omar Abu Awad, Mohammad Jawad Al-Zoghb, and Elham Hdeib, who were later detained by Israeli soldiers for an hour (02/19).

On the other hand, the Ofer military court ordered Thaer Al-Fakhoury, the director of Media Space, to be held in administrative detention for four months (02/19).

In the 1948 Territories, Israeli police questioned freelance photographer Mohammad Abu Sneine after his arrest by soldiers in the Al-Aqsa Mosque square (02/09). Six days later, he was barred from entering the mosque for four months. The police also obstructed the work of Anadolu correspondent Samir Abdul-Hadi (02/17), freelance journalist Sayf Qawasmi (02/23), and Al-Jarmak news agency reporter Atwa Abu Kharma (02/27). The Israeli war cabinet decided to ban Al-Jazeera’s operations in the country, citing “threats to Israeli national security.”

The Israeli war cabinet decided to ban Al-Jazeera’s operations in the country, under the pretext that it “threatens Israeli national security”.

In Lebanon, the Interior Ministry banned two conferences on sexuality under the pretext of undermining public decency (02/03). Journalist Mariam Majdoline Lahham faced a smear campaign after Mariam Al-Bassam, the director of news and political programs at Al-Jadeed, accused Lahham of providing information to Israel in a tweet (02/16). Additionally, lawyer Charbel Arab filed a complaint against singer Nancy Ajram with the military prosecutor, alleging violation of the Israel boycott law, after she shook hands with an Israeli blogger during her concert in Cyprus (02/22).

In Syria, the family of poet Nasser Bunduq announced his death in the Syrian regime’s prison (02/05), days after he was arrested in March 2014. Also, the Tartous investigating judge ordered journalist Mahmud Ibrahim’s arrest on charges of violating the Constitution, undermining the state’s prestige, and supporting an armed insurrection, after he expressed solidarity with a peaceful protest in Suwayda (02/25).

In Jordan, Facebook reopened Al-Ghad newspaper’s account 11 days after banning access to the page (02/05). The next day, it threatened to permanently close the account if content related to the Palestinian cause or the Gaza war was published. The Amman Criminal Court sentenced journalist Alaa Alfazzaa to prison in absentia and fined him in two publishing cases (02/05).

This report is published with the support of:

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