Beirut, May 2, 2018--The Committee to Protect Journalists today condemned the recent closure of the East Jerusalem office of the Palestinian Elia Youth Media Foundation by Israeli forces and called on authorities to allow the group to work freely.
Israeli internal security forces and police on April 18 taped a Defense Ministry order on the door that declared Elia a terrorist organization and ordered its immediate closure until further notice; the front door was closed with red and white caution tape, according to news reports and the local press freedom group Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA).
No one was in the office at the time and youth foundation members have not been able to enter the office since, Ahmed Hussein Safadi, the director of Elia, told MADA.
The office was shuttered two days after Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Twitter wrote that Elia, which has provided media training to young Palestinians and reports on local events in Jerusalem, recruits youths as terrorists and trains them to produce incitement videos.
"Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman has failed to produce any evidence that the Elia Youth Media Foundation is a terrorist organization," CPJ Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator Sherif Mansour said from Washington, D.C. "It is absurd to equate young reporters with terrorists. We call on the Israeli authorities to allow Elia Youth Media to resume its work and to stop harassing the press."
The Israeli Defense Ministry did not reply to CPJ's email request for comment.