IFJ Questions Israel Over "Inhumane Detention of Palestinian Journalists"

The International Federation of Journalists, the world's largest journalists' organisation, today called on Israel to explain its detention - "in harrowing and inhumane conditions" - of at least seven Palestinian Journalists.

Three journalists are in Israeli custody after being arrested while carrying out their professional duties. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) has so far provided no explanation about why they are held.

Reuter's cameraman Jussry al-Jamal, a Palestinian, has been jailed by Israeli authorities without charge, access to a lawyer or appearance before a court. His family has been unable to see him and does not know where he is being detained. No charges have been pressed or evidence produced to justify the long incommunicado detention.

"This sort of detention becomes harrowing and inhumane when relatives and friends are in ignorance of the physical well-being and whereabouts of their loved ones," said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary.

On April 30, IDF troops in the West Bank town of Hebron detained Jussry al-Jamal and Reuters cameraman Mazen Dana when they were filming near the Al-Ahli Hospital when soldiers demanded to see their identification cards and then informed them that they were under arrest. The journalists were blindfolded, handcuffed, and taken to an outdoor holding area, where they spent the night without food or water. Dana was released the next day, but al-Jamal remains in custody.

Hussam Abu Alan, Agence France-Presse (AFP) was detained on April 24, a Hebron-based photographer, was stopped with Mazen Dana of Reuters at the Beit Einun checkpoint north of Hebron when they tried to reach a nearby village to cover the funeral of Palestinian militants killed by Israeli forces. The soldiers detained the two journalists for about three hours and confiscated their cameras. Dana was released and his camera was later returned, but Abu Alan was handcuffed, blindfolded, and taken to an undisclosed location. He remains in Israeli custody.

Two other Palestinian journalists were arrested by Israeli troops in Ramallah on or about April 18: Maher al-Dessouki, the host of a popular talk show on the Ramallah-based Al-Quds Educational TV; and Kamel Jbeil, a reporter with the Palestinian newspaper Al-Quds. Both men were arrested at the residence of al-Dessouki's brother-in-law and are being held elsewhere in the area.

According to the Palestinian Journalists' Syndicate another three journalists are being held in detention: Abdel Razek Farraj, Ghassan Jarrar, and Ayman Al Kawasmeh, no details are known about their circumstances.