Beirut, July 25, 2018–The Committee to Protect Journalists today expressed concern about the arrest of Huthifa Abu Jamous, a Palestinian photojournalist and opinion writer for the Hamas-affiliated Quds News Network.
Palestinian Preventive Security Forces on July 22 detained Abu Jamous after he was summoned without charge earlier that day for questioning at their headquarters in Abu Dis in the West Bank, according to the regional press freedom group Journalists Support Committee, his employer, and news reports.
Abu Jamous’ employer on July 24 quoted the journalist’s mother as saying that her son’s detention was extended for two days and she was not aware of any charges against him. She also said that the security forces, on previous occasions, had summoned her son for questioning in relation to his Facebook posts, Quds reported.
“We are concerned about the arrest of Huthifa Abu Jamous given the Palestinian Authority’s record on respecting the rights of journalists,” said CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa program coordinator, Sherif Mansour, from Washington, D.C. “The authorities must explain immediately why they are holding him or let him go.”
The Palestinian Interior Ministry, which oversees the Preventative Security Forces, did not immediately reply to CPJ’s call requesting comment.
On July 21, Abu Jamous posted to his Facebook account pictures that he took for the Quds News Network of a military parade, organized by the secular, leftist Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), in Abu Dis to commemorate the death of Mohammad Lafi, who was shot dead by Israeli troops during city protests in late July 2017, according to news reports.
On July 16, Abu Jamous published an op-ed on Quds News Network’s website in which he criticized the Palestinian National Authority for normalizing relations with Israel and promoting an ineffective model of peaceful Palestinian resistance.
The Palestinian National Authority, which controls the West Bank, and Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, have been at odds since the 2006 parliamentary election that resulted in Hamas’ victory and a subsequent government split, according to news reports.
Facebook blocked Abu Jamous’ personal account on September 22, 2016, along with those of other Palestinian journalists and media outlets, including the Hamas-affiliated Shehab News Agency and the Quds News Network, in response to Israel’s allegations that they incite violence, according to news reports and the Palestinian press freedom group, the Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedom (MADA). Abu Jamous later created another Facebook account, according to CPJ research.
The arrest comes 3 months after the Palestinian Preventive Security forces arrested without charge Hazem Naser, a Palestinian cameraperson and video editor for the An-Najah Broadcasting Channel (NBC), at his home in the northern West Bank city of Tulkarem on April 18, CPJ research shows. NBC is affiliated with An-Najah University and is staffed by media professionals and students. The current Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah is also president of the university, which is located in the West Bank city of Nablus. Nazer on May 6 posted on his Twitter account that he was released.