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Media group says 'worrying' press violations in West Bank

Dec. 17, 2013 9:18 P.M. (Updated: Dec. 23, 2013 4:32 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- The Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms on Tuesday released a statement documenting "worrying violations" against media freedoms in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

MADA monitored a series of arrests and verbal and physical abuses in November which it said was a "warning sign of a deterioration in the status of media freedoms."

In Salfit, manager of Sawt Alghad Radio, Majdi Taha, was arrested by Palestinian Authority forces on Nov. 1 after writing a report about a missing girl in the northern West Bank, MADA said.

PA forces detained journalist George Canawati, the manager of Radio Bethlehem 2000, on Nov. 10 after raiding his home, while intelligence services working for the PA presidential guard detained a crew from Watan TV on Nov. 24 while they were preparing a report on false business companies.

In Tulkarem, Watan TV correspondent Sami Saai was summoned for investigation by the PA's preventative security forces.

In the Gaza Strip, Agence France Press cameraman Yahya Hasouna was detained by Hamas security forces on Nov. 11 while preparing a report about the 9th memorial of Yasser Arafat's death, MADA said.

On the same day, armed men broke into the home of Al-Arabiya TV cameraman Shabaan Mema and stole his car.

MADA also noted numerous media violations by Israeli forces.

On Nov. 6, Mohammad Abu Khdeir, a correspondent with al-Quds newspaper, was detained at Ben Gurion airport after returning home from a trip.

He was held by Israeli forces for a month before being released.

In early December, the Foreign Press Association accused the Israeli army of "deliberately targeting" journalists after soldiers fired rubber bullets and threw stun grenades at photojournalists clearly identified as press.

The Tel Aviv-based group, which represents journalists of all foreign media, said troops had directly targeted a group of photographers covering clashes at the Qalandia checkpoint between Jerusalem and Ramallah.

"The Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms condemns all violations against journalists in Palestine," MADA said, urging all violations by Palestinian authorities to be investigated.

The group also called on civil society to put pressure on Israeli military forces to stop all violations against journalists and to respect the freedom of expression.
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