Dozens of Palestinian journalists gathered on Monday in front of a UN building in Ramallah to demand freedom of the press following violent clashes with Palestinian security forces sparked by an activist. died in custody.
Nizar Banat, a 43-year-old Hebron man known for videos on social media lamenting the alleged corruption of the Palestinian Authority (PA), died last week shortly after security forces stormed his home and he was violently arrested, his family said.
Shock days between protesters and police have injured several journalists.
Reporters Without Borders said Monday that twelve Palestinian journalists, including five women, had been assaulted by Palestinian police during weekend riots in the occupied West Bank.
Naila Khalil, a journalist for The New Arab media, said Palestinian journalists had submitted a letter to the UN urging the world body “to take the necessary and immediate steps” to protect media freedom.
Mohammed Gharafi, of the Ultra Palestine news site, said he had been harassed by Palestinian security forces who threatened to confiscate his phone if he did not stop filming the protests.
Separately, human rights groups in Ramallah announced on Monday the formation of a legal team to monitor attacks on journalists.
At a press conference, the director general of the Independent Commission on Human Rights, Ammar al-Dwaik, said several human rights organizations have taken testimonies from male and female journalists who were attacked while covering demonstrations in Ramallah during the last days.
“Journalists were deliberately targeted, especially women journalists in the field, by assaults, camera hijackings or theft of communication devices,” al-Dwaik said.
He described the facts as “very worrying” and that they prevent journalists from fulfilling their role.
On Sunday, several journalists cut off their press cards in protest of the union’s silence over attacks on them.
No need God …
A union that does not protect the Palestinian journalist cannot continue. pic.twitter.com/aoUudw4143
– Muath Hamed (@MuathHamed) June 27, 2021
Translation: There is no reason for that. It is useless to continue to be part of a union that does not protect its journalists.
A journalist, Fayhaa Khanfar, was summoned by the general intelligence of the AP to be questioned on Monday.
Khanfar was one of the journalists who was violently assaulted in the Ramallah protests and told local media how plainclothes security forces threw empty rocks and bottles at journalists, in addition to ripping or breaking cameras and phones. .
“One of the soldiers in civilian clothes attacked me while I was standing in a side street,” he said.
“He tried to grab the phone by force while calling me and dragged me down the main street and threw me to the ground.”
Investigation into Banat’s death
Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said on Monday that those responsible for Banat’s death “will be held responsible,” according to the official WAFA news agency.
According to an autopsy, Banat had been beaten on the head, chest, neck, legs and hands, with less than an hour elapsed between his arrest and his death.
Banat had registered as a candidate in the Palestinian parliamentary elections, which were set for May until Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas he postponed them indefinitely.
At a press conference on Monday, Banat’s family announced its rejection to the committee of inquiry set up by the Palestinian Authority.
“The inquiry committee set up by the government is not recognized and what is based on deception is wrong,” said Khalil, the banat’s father.
“Nizar was killed after being dragged from his bed and all forces that carried out his arrest and murder under cover of darkness should be subjected to a public trial.”