SKeyes Center for Media and Cultural Freedom - Samir Kassir Foundation

Freedom of Expression Violations in the Levant - April 2022

Wednesday , 25 May 2022

In April 2022 in Lebanon, the General Security detained American journalist Nada Homsi at the airport, upon her arrival, for 17 hours amid claims of an entry ban against her (04/10), before releasing her, while security officers affiliated with the Bint Jbeil municipality detained Beirut Today correspondent, Hanin Haidar (04/25). Also, Al-Jadeed reporter Rouba Frenn and photographer Mohammad Al-Samra were prevented from filming the scene of the explosion in the town of Benafoul (04/12), while the Lebanese American University administration banned journalists and photographers from entering the campus in Beirut to cover a student protest (04/06).

Journalist Luna Safwan was victim of a social media smear campaign and accused of embezzling funds from NGOs (04/14), while journalist Dima Sadek was victim of online harassment directed at her daughter – a child with special needs (04/27). Also this month, the Supervisory Commission for Elections asked the Maharat Foundation to stop monitoring the media coverage of the elections under the pretext that it did not get the necessary accreditation (04/13).

In Syria, members of the Northern Storm Brigade attacked activist Ons Qudeimati in Azaz, a city located in the northern countryside of Aleppo (04/12), while the Syrian State TV banned sports journalist Mohammad Al-Khatib from appearing in the show “The Captain” broadcasted on the Syrian Drama TV (04/14). Syrian president Bashar Al-Assad issued Law No. 20 in which he amended the legislative decree 17/2012, better known as the Anti-Cybercrime Law, strengthening sanctions for undermining the prestige of the State and imposing higher fines (04/18).

In Jordan, no new violations were documented on the media and cultural scene during the month of April. A report published by the human rights association Frontline Defenders showed that the phones of several Jordanian activists, including two female journalists, were hacked in 2021 using the Pegasus software, which is developed by Israeli company NSO.

In the West Bank, the Israeli forces assaulted PalPost correspondent Shadia Bani Chamsa and arrested her while she was covering clashes (04/14). They also arrested freelance journalist Omar Abu Al-Rab at his house (04/01) and Al-Qastal website's Ayman Qawariq at an Israeli checkpoint (04/28) without giving any reason. The Israeli forces also arrested a Palestine TV crew, which included correspondent Hani Fnoun and cameraman Fares Janazreh near a military checkpoint (04/10).

In the Gaza Strip, the Hamas-affiliated public prosecution questioned the Al Eqtisadiah newspaper editor-in-chief Mohammad Abu Jayyab (04/11) and freelance journalist Ahmad Said (04/12) over Facebook publications. The Khan Yunis Court of First Instance postponed the trial of journalist Ihab Fasfus for the ninth time (04/05).

Moreover, YouTube deleted four episodes of the Shara Nasr Gilboa Palestinian series under the pretext that “it is affiliated with terrorist parties and fuels violence” (04/05 and 04/11).

In the 1948 Territories, the Israeli police intensified its attacks against Palestinian journalists and photographers covering protests and clashes at the Al-Aqsa mosque. Several ones were injured after being hit with rubber-coated bullets: Al-Ghad TV correspondent Nesreen Salem (04/15), Russia Today cameraman Ali Yassin, freelance photographer Ahmad Al-Sharif, Al-Mayadeen cameraman Mohammad Asho. (04/22) and Al-Hayat photographer Mohammad Samrin. The latter was also arrested after being beaten (04/15). The Israeli police also beat the Islamic Waqf photographer Rami Al-Khatib, AFP photographer Ahmad Gharableh, blogger Alaa Al-Souss (04/15), and freelance photographer Raja’i Khatib who was also detained for two hours (04/27). The police arrested freelance journalist Abdel-Salam Awad (04/29) and freelance photographer Mohammad Douaik before questioning him (04/03). It also prevented freelance photographer Ibrahim Al-Sinjlawi from entering Al-Aqsa mosque to cover the events (04/11) and detained freelance photographer Ahmad Abu Sbeih for two hours (04/12) and Al-Jarmaq news website correspondent Najat Hammouda (04/16) before releasing her the next day.

Also, two unknown gunmen opened fire on freelance journalist Mustafa Sarsour. He was injured after being hit with seven bullets (04/14). An unknown man threatened to kill Al-Taj station journalist Ahlam Ibrahim Melhem (04/18), while Facebook blocked the Al-Qastal news page for 24 hours for violating the social network’s guidelines (04/15).

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