22 February 2013
IFJ Supports Call for Release of Palestinian Journalists in Israeli Detention
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today backed the call by its affiliate in Palestine, the Palestinian Journalists' Syndicate (PJS), which organised a protest in Ramallah to demand the release of their colleagues held by Israel.
The PJS organised the sit-in protest outside the Ofer detention center in east of Ramallah while an Israeli court held a hearing in the case of detained Palestinian journalist Amir Abu Arafah and cartoonist Muhammad Sabanah.
"We support our Palestinian colleagues' action to demand the release of Arafah and Sabanah," said Jim Boumelha, IFJ President. "Their detention seems to be another arbitrary measure which the Israeli security forces routinely take against Palestinian journalists."
According to the PJS, there were clashes during the sit-in after Israeli security forces tried to disperse journalists who were taking part in the activity. The PJS President Abdul-Nasser al-Najjar accused the soldiers of abusing their power and deliberately targeting Palestinian journalists for intimidation, including through such means as arrests.
He said that dozens of them are now in Israeli custody and this was echoed by the director of the Palestinian media watchdog Mada Mousa Rimawi who told the protesters that Israel's policy of detaining Palestinian journalists has gone on for decades. Twenty-seven Palestinian journalists were detained in the last two years, according to Rimawi.
The IFJ has on many occasions called on Israeli authorities to respect the rights of Palestinian journalists and to stop its military's blatant disregard of the human dignity of media staff in Palestine.
"We urge the government of Israel to reign in their soldiers who have become a law on to themselves while dealing with Palestinian journalists," added Beth Costa, IFJ General Secretary. "They should not be allowed to carry out any arrest of journalists without a proper judicial scrutiny and any abuse should be severely punished."
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The IFJ represents more than 600.000 journalists in 134 countries