PCHR Expresses Concern about the Summons and Arrest of a Number of Journalists


 by Internal Security Services in Gaza

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) expresses concern about the summons and arrest of a number of journalists by Internal Security Services (ISS) in Gaza during the past two days. PCHR calls upon the government in Gaza to respect the rights to freedom of opinion and expression and the freedom of the press, which are guaranteed according to the constitution, as well as the relevant international human rights standards.

According to investigations conducted by PCHR, over the past two days a number of journalists, who work in print and electronic media, were summonsed by the ISS in Gaza and the central Gaza Strip. A number of the journalists’ houses were searched and their PCs confiscated.

At approximately 15:00 on Monday, 21 January 2013, ISS officers raided and searched the house of Ashraf Jamal Abu Khseiwan, 32, a journalist who works for al-Ketab satellite channel, in Deir al-Balah. They confiscated documents related to his work. At approximately 18:00, the ISS returned to the same house and arrested Abu Khseiwan.

At approximately 18:40 on the same day, ISS officers arrived at the home of Monir Jom’a al-Monirawi, 38, a journalist who works for a number of news agencies. Al-Monirawi is also a manager of the Gaza branch of the Journalists’ Union, which belongs to the Journalists’ Union in Ramallah. Al-Monirawi was arrested from his home in Deir al-Balah. ISS officers also searched the house and confiscated some documents and a laptop.

At approximately 23:00 on the same day, ISS officers arrested Mostafa Mohammed Meqdad, 34, from al-Sheikh Redwan neighborhood in Gaza City, a journalist who works for the Fatah Youth website. They confiscated his PC. Around the same time, ISS officers arrested Jom’a Adnan Shawamra, 29, from al-Shati’ refugee camp, west of Gaza City, a journalist who works for al-Hurriya radio.

At approximately 22:00 on Tuesday, 22 January 2013, ISS officers arrested Omar Mohammed al-Dahoudi, a journalist, as he was leaving a media office building in Tal al-Hawa, south of Gaza City. In addition, they confiscated his PC.

At approximately 09:00 on Wednesday, 23 January 2013, Hussein Abdul Jawwad Karsou’, 37, a journalist working for Aswar press website, and Abdul Karim Fat’hi Hejji, 22, also a journalist, presented themselves at the ISS head office in Ansar military compound, west of Gaza City, in response to a summons they had received. The 2 journalists, both from Gaza City, were questioned about personal information and the nature of their political affiliation. They were released, and given another 2 summons date on 30 January 2013.

At approximately 10:30 on the same day, the journalist Majdi Abdul Aziz Isleem, 29, was arrested by the ISS officers, who raided and searched his house, which is located near the Jordanian Hospital in the Tal al-Hawa neighbourhood in Gaza City. They also confiscated his PC and a number of documents.

Following these incidents, the Palestinian Ministry of Interior in Gaza today issued a press release, titled “We Arrested Suspects Planning to Fail the Reconciliation Efforts”.  The press release read as follows: “The summons of a number of persons with different jobs was to question them on certain issues that threaten the security of the community […]” The Ministry added, “Those persons are not journalists at all. Even those who work as journalists use this field as a cover to carry out suspicious acts.”

Earlier this afternoon, the Ministry of Interior invited representatives of human rights organizations in Gaza to attend a meeting in the presence of Islam Shahwan, spokesperson of the Ministry, who informed the attendees of the decision to release the arrested journalists later this evening.

PCHR is concerned about these incidents, and:

1- Calls upon the government in Gaza to respect the rights to freedom of opinion and expression and the freedom of the press, which are guaranteed according to the constitution, as well as the relevant international human rights standards;

2- Calls upon the Palestinian Internal Security Services to follow the correct procedures related to the arrest of persons and searching of houses and to abide by the relevant Palestinian laws in carrying out their duties; and

3- Highlights the freedom of persons working in all types of media, which is protected under Article 27, Paragraph 2 of the Palestinian Basic Law, in addition to the right to freedom of opinion, which is guaranteed under Article 19 of the same law.

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