Washington D.C., December 10, 2018–The Committee to Protect Journalists expressed concern at today’s raid on the offices of the Palestinian News and Information Agency (WAFA) by Israeli forces in the West Bank city of Ramallah and the detention of Al-Quds News Network writer and Quds Radio Tulkarm correspondent Sameh Manasra by Israeli authorities.
Beginning late last night, raids by Israeli troops, border police, and other Israeli security forces in several Palestinian cities have led to at least 28 arrests, according to news reports and a Facebook post by the Palestinian Ministry of Information. Israeli forces are searching for the perpetrator of a shooting yesterday in the West Bank of a group of Israelis standing at a bus stop near a Jewish settlement that injured seven Israeli civilians, according to news reports.
The Israel Defense Forces today raided WAFA’s offices in Ramallah, according to multiple news reports. In a statement published today on WAFA’s website, the Palestinian Ministry of Information said Israeli troops detained an unspecified number of WAFA’s employees at the office and fired tear gas at the photographers at the office in order to prevent them from taking pictures of the operation. The soldiers left the agency’s office after they took copies of the security camera footage, according to employees of the news agency, Reuters reported.
“Israeli authorities must halt their attacks against Palestinian media and publicly disclose information about WAFA’s raid and journalist Sameh Manasra’s detention,” said Sherif Mansour, CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa program coordinator. “Those who threaten and scare journalists who are doing merely their job must be held accountable.”
The Israel Defense Forces did not reply to CPJ’s email requesting comment. An unidentified spokesperson for the Israel Defense Forces was cited by The Times of Israel as saying she could not comment on the raid of WAFA’s offices in Ramallah, including whether it was part of the hunt for the gunmen from Sunday night’s shooting. An Israeli military spokeswoman declined to comment to Reuters on the raid, according to the Reuters report.
Manasra was arrested by Israeli authorities early this morning from his home in Izbat al-Jarad village in Tulkarm, in northern West Bank, according to the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate, a tweet by the local press freedom group Journalists’ Support Committee, and local news reports.
Photos and videos posted on social media show Manasar’s arrest and its aftermath. According to a tweet by WAFA correspondent Ali Obaidaat, Manasra was taken to an investigation center in Petah Tikva east of Tel Aviv.
Manasra was briefly detained and interrogated three times in March 2017 by Palestinian intelligence authorities because of his work with Quds News Network, local and regional news reported. He wrote for Quds News in 2017 about the conditions of Palestinians imprisoned by Israel.