Even as four Palestinian journalists were released after paying a bail of NIS 5000 ($1350) each, an Israeli military court extended the detention of journalist Alaa Rimawi, the director of the Al-Quds TV office. Rimawi previously went on hunger strike for 6 days immediately following his arrest. In addition, the interrogation of Palestinian writer Lama Khater, seized by occupation forces from her home in Al-Khalil, was also extended by an Israeli military court.
The four journalists released are Mohammed Sami Alwan, Qutaiba Hamdan, Hosni Anjas and Ibrahim Rantisi. Alwan, Hamdan and Anjas all work for al-Quds TV, while Rantisi works for TRT World.
In an interview with Asra Media Center after his release, Rantisi said that “the interrogation was on the charge of incitement through my work with media outlets in the past, and I reiterated to the interrogators that this arrest was motivated by a policy of revenge against Palestinian journalists. While Palestinian journalists operate according to professional standards, they face charges of incitement through the arrest of journalists, subjecting them to interrogation and extracting confessions from them through threats or ordering them to administrative detention, imprisonment of unknown time and without charge.”
“Every media outlet is threatened with closure and the arrest of its employees on charges of incitement,” Rantisi said. “If their words, images and interviews do not meet the approval of the security forces, the journalist will be arrested and subject to interrogation and military prosecution.”
As Rantisi spoke, writer Lama Khater was ordered detained for 12 more days of interrogation. When Israeli occupation forces stormed her family home on 24 July, it came shortly after she had been summoned to interrogation and threatened to stop writing. Khater is being held under harsh interrogation in the Ashkelon detention center, restrained on a small chair for over 10 hours each day, deprived of sleep and cursed at and insulted by the interrogators. Her interrogation has been extended three times consecutively.
Her articles are published in a number of newspapers and websites, highlighting the struggle against normalization and the rights of Palestinian prisoners and the Palestinian people.
In addition, as the number of journalists seized by Israeli occupation forces has escalated, Palestinian journalist Mohammed Anwar Mona of Nablus was ordered to administrative detention for six months. Mona, 35, from Zuwata near Nablus, has been jailed since 1 August when Israeli occupation forces invaded his home. He has been jailed on multiple occasions, with a total of six years in Israeli jails, mostly in administrative detention. He was first arrested as a journalism student in 2003, when he was jailed for 28 months. Mona directs a radio station in Nablus and serves as a correspondent for Quds Press.
Mona is not the only jailed journalism student; Ola Marshoud of an-Najah University and Istabraq Tamimi of Bir Zeit University are both imprisoned by Israel for their involvement in student activities on campus.
Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network joins the call of Palestinian journalists for greater global solidarity against the ongoing attacks of the Israeli occupation. From the International Federation of Journalists to Reporters without Borders, international voices who are concerned with human rights of reporters have a responsibility to defend Palestinians facing colonial imprisonment for reporting the reality of apartheid, colonization and injustice. The imprisonment of Palestinian journalists can also not be separated from the killing of Palestinian journalists like Yaser Murtaja and Ahmad Abu Hussein in Gaza in the Great March of Return.
The attacks on Palestinian journalists – including student journalists – also underline the importance of the boycott of Israel, including the cultural and academic boycott. So long as Palestinians – including Palestinian journalists – are not free, the Israeli state and its associated institutions must be isolated by people of conscience and human rights defenders around the world. Freedom for all Palestinian prisoners – Freedom for Palestine!