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Group urges investigations into PA violations against journalists

Dec. 28, 2015 1:31 P.M. (Updated: Jan. 6, 2016 2:36 P.M.)
Palestinian security forces block off a pro-Hamas rally from a West Bank checkpoint. (AFP/Hazem Bader, File)
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) -- Palestinian Authority security forces came under fire Monday from a Palestinian media rights group for a violent assault carried out on journalists in the Ramallah area last week.

PA security forces wearing civilian clothing on Friday assaulted several journalists and prevented them from covering clashes that broke out between the forces and protesters in al-Bireh, according to an investigation by the Palestinian Center for Developments and Media Freedoms (MADA).

The watchdog said in a statement said that “violent means” used by PA security forces during the incident indicated the “violation of laws” which guarantee freedom of expression.

The forces reportedly beat and detained the journalists, preventing them from news coverage while inspecting and seizing their equipment.

A correspondent for Palestine Today TV, Jehad Barakat, told MADA that a “human chain” of PA security forces were blocking the path of a demonstration heading toward the illegal Beit El settlement Friday, when clashes broke out between Palestinian protesters and the guards.

“My colleague started filming, however, five or six people wearing civilian clothes violently caught him, resulting in tearing his shirt in addition to confiscating his camera,” Barakat told MADA.

They dragged me and my colleague away for around 20 meters after I asked for the reasons of preventing the filming of the march,” Barakat continued.

The reporters were detained for several hours and all photo and video footage of the march was deleted, Barakat said. MADA urged the PA to hold those responsible for Fridays’ violations against journalists accountable.

The group has documented such incidents in the past, reporting in June that violations by Palestinian security forces in 2014 were at their highest since 2008.

Palestinian journalists also come under severe restrictions and violations from Israeli forces, last year marking a particularly deadly year for reporters, 17 of whom were reportedly killed by Israeli forces during the war in the Gaza Strip.
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