Ramattan soundman held without charge after West Bank raid


New York, August 20, 2008—Israeli authorities should disclose charges against a Palestinian soundman detained since July 15 or release him immediately, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

Ibrahim Hamad, a soundman with the Gaza-based Ramattan news agency was arrested during a 4 a.m. raid by Israel Defense Forces at his home in the Kalandia refugee camp, near Ramallah in the West Bank, according to relatives and station staff.

According to Rami Hussein, a cousin and fellow Ramattan journalist, Israeli authorities are holding Hamad in what is known as “administrative detention,” under which authorities may keep him in custody for six months without charge. The Israeli embassy in Washington had no immediate comment when contacted by CPJ Tuesday and today.

“We’re deeply troubled by the detention of Ibrahim Hamad and the secrecy surrounding his arrest,” said CPJ Senior Program Coordinator Joel Campagna. “Israeli authorities must state the reason for holding him, charge him with a recognizable offense, or release him at once.”

Hazim Badaru, deputy editor-in-chief of Ramattan news agency, said the station had not heard directly from Hamad since the arrest. Hussein said relatives had spoken with him once, about a week after the arrest. Troops punched the soundman during the arrest, but Hamad was otherwise in good condition and had been treated well, Hussein said. Hamad, who had worked for the news agency since 2005, was not known to be politically active, he said.

Relatives were told that Hamad has been transferred to al-Naqab Prison in south Israel.  

Journalists in the West Bank and Gaza have suffered abusive treatment at the hands of Israeli forces, according to CPJ research, as published in its annual survey, Attacks on the Press in 2007.