Palestinian journalist released after two years

Israeli authorities released Palestinian journalist Amer Abu Arafa, a correspondent for Shehab News Agency, on August 5, 2013, after holding him in administrative detention for nearly two years, according to news reports.

Abu Arafa, 29, had been held without charge since his arrest on August 21, 2011. Under administrative detention procedures, authorities may hold an individual for six months without charge or trial and may extend the detention an unlimited number of times. Abu Arafa’s detention had been extended for a fourth time on March 24, 2013.

Shehab News Agency, based in the Gaza Strip, has been sharply critical of Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Shortly before Abu Arafa’s detention, he had written a story about the arrests of 120 Hamas members by Israeli authorities in Hebron, Shehab told CPJ.

Abu Arafa had also been arrested in May 2010 by Palestinian security forces, according to CPJ research. Two months later, a Palestinian court sentenced him to three months in prison and a fine of 500 Jordanian dinars (US $700) for “resisting the policies of the authorities” in connection with his reporting, Shehab told CPJ at the time.

Abu Arafa told Shehab that his detention without charge violated the law, his rights, and international conventions. He told the agency that when he saw his family after his release, he would “never be able to describe the moment. I was flooded with joy.”

Arafa was one of three Palestinian journalists listed in CPJ’s annual prison census conducted in December 2012.