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On Palestinian Journalists Day, 24 reporters imprisoned by Israel hold hunger strike

Sept. 26, 2016 1:51 P.M. (Updated: Dec. 31, 2016 10:04 P.M.)
Israeli soldiers detain a Palestinian photojournalist in 2010. (AFP/File)

RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- Palestinian journalists imprisoned by Israel went on a one-day hunger strike on Monday to mark the Day of Solidarity with Palestinian Journalists, as 24 of them remained behind bars.

The Palestinian Prisoner's Society (PPS) said in a statement that 24 Palestinian journalists were currently held in Israeli prisons.

The longest serving Palestinian journalist, according to PPS, is Mahmoud Issa Moussa who has been serving a life sentence since 1993.

Meanwhile, Ahmad Hasan al-Saifi is serving a 17-year-sentence of which he has completed seven years, PPS said, adding that six other journalists -- identified as Salah al-Din Awwad, Muhammad Nimr Asida, Walid Ali, Qutayba Qassem, Sami al-Saie, and Hazim Nasser -- were serving sentences between eight months and seven years.

Seven Palestinian journalists are held in administrative detention -- internment without trial or charges, PPS added, identifying them as Nidal Abu Akar, Osama Shahin, Hasan al-Safadi, Muhammad Hasan Qaddumi, Omar Nazzal, Ali al-Uweiwi, and Adib al-Atrash.

Nine Palestinian journalists were still being tried in Israeli courts, identified as Bassam al-Sayih, Samir Abu Eisha, Musab Zayoud, Ahmad al-Darawish, Muhammad al-Sus, Nidal Amr, Hamid Nammura, al-Muntasir Billah Nassar, and Humam al-Atiely.

The Israeli crackdown on media organizations and journalists in particular has been denounced by Palestinian prisoners’ rights group Addameer as a systematic policy that often designates outlets affiliated with Palestinian political parties as terrorist organizations.

“The practical implication of these broadly-defined offenses is the criminalization of many aspects of Palestinian civic life,” Addameer stated.

In recent months, Israel has detained scores of Palestinians, including journalists, for social media activity, alleging that a wave of unrest that swept the occupied Palestinian territory last October was encouraged largely by "incitement."

Palestinians have instead pointed chiefly to the frustration and despair brought on by Israel's nearly 50-year military occupation of the Palestinian territory and the absence of a political horizon.

The Committee to Support Palestinian Journalists said in April that Israel had detained 43 journalists in the occupied Palestinian territory, including two foreign reporters, in the six months since October 2015.

According to Palestinian press freedoms watchdog MADA, the month of August saw the highest number of violations against media freedoms in the occupied Palestinian territory since the beginning of the year.

In August, MADA had also reported that Israeli violations against media freedoms in the occupied Palestinian territory had continued to rise at a rapid pace over the first half of 2016, even after the group reported an “unprecedented” increase in violations throughout 2015.

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