New York, October 6, 2020 — The Committee to Protect Journalists today expressed concern about the recent arrest of Palestinian freelance journalist Tareq Abu Zeid by Israeli security forces.
On October 1, Israeli security forces raided Abu Zeid’s home in the northern West Bank city of Nablus and arrested him, according to news reports and the regional press freedom organization SKeyes Center for Media and Cultural Freedom.
Abu Zeid’s wife, Nour Abu Zeid, was quoted by SKeyes as saying that Israeli soldiers blew up the house’s door around 3 a.m., seized Abu Zeid’s cell phone and computer, and took him to an unknown destination. In statements to the London-based news website Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, Nour Abu Zeid said that, when asked, the unit’s commanding officer refused to disclose the reasons for Abu Zeid’s arrest.
“We condemn the Israeli authorities’ habit of arresting journalists without informing them of the reasons,” said CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa representative, Ignacio Miguel Delgado. “Authorities should either disclose the charges against Tareq Abu Zeid or release him immediately.”
According to news reports, Abu Zeid was transferred to the Petah Tikva detention center on October 3. On October 4, the Salem military court extended Abu Zeid’s detention for nine days, news reports said.
Abu Zeid used to work as a reporter for Al-Aqsa TV, which is affiliated with the Palestinian organization Hamas. As a freelancer, he contributes to the broadcaster Palestine Mubasher — which is affiliated with the Fatah party, Hamas’s rival that rules the West Bank — and the pro-Fatah Al-Quds daily newspaper. He also posts news video reports on his personal Facebook account.
In mid-August, Abu Zeid posted a video report about Israeli bulldozers demolishing Palestinian houses in two villages east of the central West Bank city of Salfit to allow for the expansion of a nearby Jewish settlement. A month earlier, he posted a video report about owners of restaurants, cafes, and gyms staging a sit-in in Nablus to protest the economic impact of COVID-19 restrictions.
Palestinian intelligence officers arrested Abu Zeid in Nablus on August 8, 2017, on allegations of leaking sensitive information to hostile parties, according to CPJ research at the time.
Neither the Israeli Defense Forces’ spokespersons office, nor the spokesperson for the Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), immediately replied to CPJ’s emailed request for comment.