The PA Abuses Journalists to Protect the Occupation
Two days ago the Israeli military arrested a leader of Fatah and the Palestinian Authority, Abbas Zaki, during his participation in a peaceful demo in Bethlehem demanding the freedom of movement and worship on the sidelines of the celebrations of Palm Sunday, and transferred him to Ofer prison. This crime took place under the silence of the Palestinian Authority officials while its “security forces” attacked the journalists covering the event in order to prevent them from publishing the news about this shameful incident of arrest of Palestinian leaders and peaceful demonstrators.
Others detained together with Zaki were Ziad Al-Bandaq, a former PA minister, and the current Palestinian governor of the district of Bethlehem, Abd El-Fattah Hamayel, who were both released, and 10 Palestinians of Christian faith.
According to lawyer Buthaina Duqmaq, president of the Mandela Foundation, the Israeli Civil Administration did not allow her to meet Zaki, but they agreed to let her talk to him over the phone. Duqmaq said that Zaki informed her that the Israeli authorities agreed to release him in return for signing a pledge with three requirements: a commitment not to go to the near the Israeli military checkpoints or to approach them for 15 days, a commitment to pay them 5000 NIS, and a commitment to come before the Israeli police whenever and wherever they want him.
She added that Zaki refused to sign the commitment imposed on him by the military, and that he informed the occupation authorities that he would not agree to these humiliating conditions which affect the trust conferred upon him and the people who were arrested together with him. Zaki also told Duqmaq that he would not agree to leave the prison without the ten other detainees who were kidnapped by the occupation.
The Palestinian journalists who work in Bethlehem confirmed that the Palestinian security forces prevented them from filming the arrest of Zaki and the other Palestinians, they also cursed and insulted them immorally, and threatened to confiscate their cameras if they insisted in filming the peace demo and the IDF arrests of Palestinian citizens.
AP cameraman Iyad Hamad said that during his coverage of clashes with the Israeli occupation forces, the PA military forces tried to stop him and his colleague Mohammed Abu Ghanyyeh form Reuters and Luay Sababa from Ma’an News Agency. “They dealt harshly and threatened to beat us if we did not stop filming”, he said. “In addition, they proffered offensive verbal insults on us, claiming that the area is a closed military zone without showing us the security authorizations to do so”. The Journalist Moussa al-Shaer from AFP (French news agency) who watched the event, said that the most prominent feature of these security individual was that they were very nervous while the situation did not call for it.
Meanwhile, dozens of journalists held a sit-in yesterday at 10:00 outside the Palestinian headquarters of the province in Bethlehem in protest against members to national security who abused them while covering the demo of Sunday north of Bethlehem. Mr. Abdel Nasser al-Najjar, the new Secretary General of the Palestinian journalists syndicate, was among the Palestinian journalist protestors. At the same time, the TV and radio stations in Bethlehem suspended their work for five minutes in protest against the practices of the PA security forces against the Journalists.
On Wednesday the Israeli military court of Ofer prison is scheduled to deal with the case of the arrest of the high ranking PA leader and member of the Central Committee of Fatah, Abbas Zaki.
Zaki did not go to court because he was not willing to be freed without that also the 10 Christian protestors would be freed, who had no chance to be released on their own due to their lack of political prominence. They were all accused of “attacking the police” while there was no police present in the protest area. Today Wednesday a demonstration in solidarity with the incarcerated was held before the Ofer jail near Ramallah.
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