New York, May 14, 2021 — Israeli forces should do their utmost to protect Palestinian and Israeli journalists covering unrest and conflict, and should ensure that members of the press can work safely and freely, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
On May 12, Israeli forces in the West Bank city Tulkarem arrested Hazem Naser, a Palestinian camera operator for the Amman-based broadcaster Al-Ghad, according to a report by his employer; he remains in detention today, and authorities have not disclosed the reason for his arrest.
Separately, two members of a right-wing Israeli demonstration in Tel Aviv assaulted a TV crew working for the Israeli public broadcaster Kan News yesterday, according to news reports.
Also, an Israeli air strike injured at least two Palestinian journalists with the Turkish state-owned Anadolu Agency yesterday in Gaza, their employer reported.
“Israeli authorities must cease arresting and attacking journalists, who play a vital role reporting the news and bringing clarity amid chaos,” said CPJ Middle East and North Africa representative Ignacio Miguel Delgado. “Israeli authorities must immediately release camera operator Hazem Naser, and do their utmost to protect Palestinian and Israeli journalists covering conflict and unrest in the country and allow them to work freely and safely.”
Israeli security forces arrested Naser at the Anab military checkpoint near the West Bank city of Tulkarem on May 12, while he was on his way home after covering clashes in the city, according to his employer, news reports, and a report by the Skeyes Center for Media and Cultural Freedom, a regional press freedom group.
In an Al-Ghad broadcast later on May 12, the outlet’s Hebron correspondent Raed al-Sharif said that he had lost contact with Naser and believed that the Israeli army had arrested him and seized his car. Naser’s cousin, Muhammad Naser, confirmed the journalist’s arrest to the Skeyes Center, telling the group, “Until now we don’t know the reason for his arrest.”
On May 13, Al-Ghad published a report saying that an Israeli court had extended Naser’s detention for 11 days. Israeli forces previously arrested Naser in 2016, and Palestinian forces arrested him in 2018, as CPJ documented at the time.
Separately, in Tel Aviv’s Hatikva neighborhood yesterday, two unidentified members of a right-wing Israeli demonstration attacked a Kan News team consisting of reporter Yoav Zehavi and camera operator Rolik Nowitzki, who had been covering the demonstration, according to footage of the incident posted on social media and tweets by Zehavi.
The footage shows two men kicking Nowiztki and beating him with a motorcycle helmet, throwing his camera to the ground, and then stealing the camera and fleeing the scene; the men shouted at Zehavi but did not beat him up.
Zehavi wrote on Twitter that the demonstrators were chanting “death to the Arabs” and “Mohammad is dead.” Nowitzki was hospitalized following the attack, according to reports.
In a separate incident yesterday in northern Gaza, a rocket fired in an Israeli air strike exploded near a car transporting Anadolu Agency photojournalist Mustafa Hassona and camera operator Mohammad al-Aloul, both Palestinians, injuring them, according to a report by their employer, a statement by the Turkish government, footage and pictures posted to social media following the attack, as well as images and video reviewed by CPJ.
Footage and pictures that CPJ reviewed shows the journalists’ car, clearly marked with the letters “TV” on its front and roof, with shattered windows and two holes in its side.
Hassona and Al-Aloul were transferred to the Indonesian Public Hospital near the northern Gazan city of Jabalia, where they are in stable condition, according to their employer’s report.
Al-Aloul sustained injuries in his left hand and arm and his left leg, and picture CPJ reviewed shows a piece of unidentified shrapnel that had been extracted from his leg. CPJ could not independently confirm the extent of Hassona’s injuries; he wrote on Facebook that he and al-Aloul were in good health.
According to a post shared on social media by Palestinian photojournalist Hosam Salem, a third journalist, Dawood Abu al-Kas, was also travelling in the car; CPJ could not verify whether he sustained any injuries.
CPJ emailed the Israel Defense Forces’ North America Desk for comment, but did not immediately receive any reply.