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Watchdog: Israeli violations against journalists nearly doubled in February

March 15, 2016 8:49 P.M. (Updated: March 20, 2016 10:26 P.M.)
A Palestinian Hamas policeman reads a copy of the Al-Ayyam newspaper in Gaza City on May 8, 2014. (AFP/Mohammed Abed, File)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- A Palestinian press freedoms watchdog on Tuesday announced an increase in violations against media freedoms for the month of February.

The Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms, known as MADA, said instances in violations against Palestinian journalists rose from 26 in January to 35 in February.

Israeli forces committed 30 of the violations, nearly double the 16 documented by the group in January. The other five violation committed in February were from "different Palestinian Parties," MADA reported.

The report said that Israeli violations mostly ranged from preventing journalists from covering events, to physical assaults, some of which were "violent and brutal."

MADA, which documented each case of press violations, detailed several cases within its report. One of the violations documented was an incident on Feb. 5, during which Israeli forces shot and injured an Anatolia news agency photographer, Hisham Abu Shaqra, while he was covering clashes in the southern occupied West Bank city of Bethlehem.

MADA documented a significant decrease in Palestinian violations against media freedoms, from 16 in January down to five in February.

Most Palestinian violations documented were detentions, though the group included in its numbers a Palestinian whose thumb was fractured after being hit with a rock on Feb. 19 by protesters during clashes.

In addition to MADA's report, the Islamic Radio Stations and Televisions’ Union said on Tuesday that Israeli forces had injured at least 14 Palestinian female journalists since the start of upheaval in October.

Three of the journalists were form Jerusalem, four from Ramallah, four from Hebron, two from Bethlehem and one from the Gaza Strip, the union said.

The union said each of the 14 were either hit with live or rubber-coated steel bullets, or other Israeli crowd dispersal means such as tear gas canisters and stun grenades.

On Friday, Israeli forces raided the offices of Falastin al-Yawm and TransMedia Production Company in the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah.

Locals told Ma’an that forces stormed the media outlets’ headquarters in al-Bireh and detained two journalists, confiscated property, and delivered military orders for the offices to be shut down.

Israeli authorities shut down a number of Palestinian news agencies last November, also on the grounds of “incitement against Israel,” following an increase in unrest in the occupied Palestinian territory.
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