Ref: 20/2011

 

The Palestinian Center for PCHR is deeply concerned over the
escalation of attacks by Palestinian security services in Gaza against
journalists and press offices yesterday, including beating journalists and
confiscation of equipment. PCHR also
condemns continued attacks by security services on peaceful assemblies in
various areas in the Gaza Strip in the past three days, including beating and
detention of a number of participants. PCHR further calls upon the government in Gaza to respect press freedoms
and the right to peaceful assembly ensured under the Palestinian Basic Law and
international human rights standards.

 

According to investigations conducted by PCHR and testimonies of
victims and eyewitnesses, Saturday, 19 March 2011, witnessed a serious
escalation by Palestinian security services in Gaza, including attacks on
journalists and press offices and equipment. At approximately 11:30, 5 security officers wearing civilian clothes
stormed offices of France Television and the local al-Manar Radio on the 11th
floor of the building of Bank of Palestine in al-Remal neighborhood in the west
of Gaza City, searching for photojournalists or cameras. Staff members were outside the offices, so
the security officers left the place. 

 

At the same time, 4 security officers, two of whom were in military
uniform, stormed the offices of Japan Television, on the 11th floor
of the building of Bank of Palestine. They introduced themselves as officers from the police general
investigation bureau. They asked about
the photojournalist in the office and confiscated a video tape from a video
camera. They also checked the identity
cards and mobile phones of all staff members of the office, and then left the
place. 

 

At approximately 12:00, two persons, who introduced themselves as
officers from the police general investigation bureau stormed offices of Fact
News Company for Media Production on the 12th floor of the building
of Bank of Palestine, searching for photojournalists. They searched the offices, and then left the
place.

 

Also at approximately 12:00, a security officer stopped Manal
Hassan al-Nawajha, a freelance journalist, when she was covering the forceful
dispersion of a peaceful assembly in the Unknown Soldier Yard in the west of
Gaza City by security forces. He
confiscated al-Nawajha’s camera. Security services, including female police officers, transported al-Nawajha
to the police command headquarters (al-Jawazat), where they confiscated
her mobile phone and memory card, and questioned her about her work. They released her at approximately
14:30. 

 

 

Also at approximately 12:00, police officers beat Khaled Mohammed
al-Ashqar, a photojournalist of Associated Press when he was near the Unknown
Soldier Yard. Al-Ashqar stated to a PCHR
field worker that police officers stopped him when he was traveling in his car
near the Unknown Soldier Yard and ordered him to hand to them the video tape he
recorded, but he denied making any video recording. He added that 7 police officers carrying
sticks and clubs forced him into a police vehicle, where they violently beat
him. They then released him.

 

At approximately 12:30, 4 police officers carrying sticks and clubs
stormed offices of Mayadeen Company for Media Production on the 15th
floor of al-Shorouq building in the west of Gaza City. They searched the offices and violently beat
Munther al-Shirafi, a photojournalist. He
lost consciousness and was evacuated to Shifa Hospital in Gaza City. The police officers also crushed a camera and
confiscated 3 video tapes.  

 

At approximately 13:30, 10 persons carrying sticks and clubs, who
introduced themselves as officers from the Internal Security Services, stormed
the office of Reuters News Agency on the 9th floor of Bsaisu
building near the Unknown Soldier Yard. They attempted to confiscate a camera from the office. When staff members of the office protested,
the security officers violently beat them and crushed 3 television sets and 4
computer sets. They also confiscated the
camera, and left the office then. The
journalists who were beaten are:

1) ‘Abed Rabbu
Shana’a;

2) Mohammed
Shana’a; and

3) Mohammed
Jadallah.

 

Earlier on Saturday, at approximately 10:30, a number of young men
and women attempted to gather near al-Azhar University in the west of Gaza
City, carrying banners calling for an end of political division, and preparing
to go to the Unknown Soldier Yard. The
police immediately arrived and dispersed them. At approximately 11:30, a number of young men and women gathered again
in the Unknown Soldier Yard articulating calls for an end of political division. The police intervened and dispersed
them. They also arrested 5 young men,
but released them later after forcing them to sign oaths not to participate in
demonstrations that are not licensed by the Ministry of Interior.  

 

At approximately 14:00, around 100 persons gathered in al-Shati
refugee camp, west of Gaza City, articulating calls for an end of political
division and calling on Prime Minister in Gaza, Mr. Ismail Haniya, to protect
their liberties. When the participants
walked towards the Prime Minister’s house, the police arrived at the area and
violently beat them using sticks and clubs. They also arrested 20 persons, but released them later. 

 

It is worth noting that police and security officers dispersed a
peaceful demonstration in al-Boreij refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip on
Thursday, 17 March 2011. They fired into
the air and attacked the participants using sticks and clubs. On Friday morning, 18 March 2011, officers of
the Internal Security Service arrested a number of persons who participated in
the above demonstration, after raiding and searching their houses. One of the detainees who was released later
stated to PCHR that he was violently beaten by security officers during
interrogation about his participation in the demonstration.

 

PCHR strongly condemns the escalation of attacks by security
services in Gaza against journalists, press offices and participants in
peaceful assemblies, and:

 

1. Asserts that
the right to freedom of opinion and expression and the right to freedom of
press work are ensured under the Palestinian Basic Law and international human
rights standards.

2. Condemns the
recurrence of attacks on journalists and media professionals; calls for
providing protection for them and taking necessary measures to allow them to
work freely; and views attacks on journalists and confiscation of their cameras
as an attempt to hide the truth from the Palestinian public opinion.

3. Demands the
government to respect the right to peaceful assembly, which is ensured under
the Palestinian Basic Law and international human rights standards. 

4. Demands Palestinian
security services to respect international human rights standards, the
Palestinian Basic Law and other relevant laws.