By Palestinian Centre for Human Rights
Press Release March 14, 2016
The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) strongly condemns Israeli forces closing the office of Palestine Today Channel in the West Bank and arresting 3 journalists, including the Channel’s Director in the West Bank. This comes after the decision taken by the Israeli Cabinet on Thursday, 10 March 2016, to close a number of Palestinian media institutions under the pretext of incitement against Israel.
On Friday, 11 March 2016, Israeli forces raided the office of TransMedia Production Company in al-Tahounah neighborhood in al-Birah City, from which Palestine Today broadcast news. They then arrested at gunpoint 2 of the Company’s officers namely photographer Mohammed Yosuf Amr (30) and sound technician Shabeeb Mohammed Shabeeb (27). In addition, Israeli soldiers searched the whole Company. According to statements of the Company’s staff members, Israeli forces confiscated all the sound and lighting equipment, routers, cameras and their tripods, PCs, laptops, files and documents related to the Company’s work, a server and cell phones. Moreover, Israeli forces questioned Amro and Shabeeb about the nature of the Company’s work and media services offered by the Company. They then took the arrested persons to “Beit Eil” detention camp and released them few hours later. Before their withdrawal, Israeli forces affixed a military order issued by the Israeli Military Commander to close the office of Palestine Today.
Around the same time, Israeli forces moved into al-Marj neighborhood in Birzeit village, north of Ramallah. They raided and searched a house belonging to journalist Farouq Omar Qasem Elayat (33), Palestine Today’s Director in the West Bank. They then arrested the aforementioned person and confiscated PCs used for work and his cell phone.
PCHR is concerned over closing the office of Palestine Today in the West Bank and arresting its Director. Furthermore, PCHR is concerned that Israeli forces would escalate their practices in this regard in light of the abovementioned ministerial decision. Therefore, PCHR calls upon the international community to practice pressure on Israeli forces to annul the closure decision and put an end to daily attacks against journalists and media personnel working in local and international media in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt).