Israeli forces arrest Al-Jazeera journalist Givara Budeiri during a protest in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, Saturday, June 5, 2021. Several other journalists were detained and assaulted in recent weeks. (AP Photo/Oren Ziv)

Israeli forces detain and assault Al-Jazeera journalist, other reporters in Jerusalem

On June 5, 2021, Israeli forces detained Al-Jazeera reporter Givara Budeiri in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah while she was covering a protest marking the 54th anniversary of the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories and Israeli authorities’ ongoing attempts to force Palestinian residents out of the neighborhood, according to her employer and The Associated Press. A video report uploaded to YouTube by Al-Jazeera shows footage of Israeli security forces handcuffing Budeiri, who is wearing a flak jacket marked “Press,” and twisting her arms behind her back. 

Budeiri said in the Al-Jazeera report that Israeli forces held her for seven or eight hours. According to Al-Jazeera, Budeiri’s left hand was fractured when she was arrested and she had to receive treatment in a local hospital, where she spent the night. Al-Jazeera added that the Israeli police also damaged the broadcast equipment belonging to Al-Jazeera cameraman Nabil Mazzawi. 

Reached via email, the Israeli police spokesperson’s office told CPJ that Budeiri refused to show an “official journalist’s certificate” and pushed a policewoman, claims that Budeiri and Al-Jazeera denied. Al-Jazeera said that Budeiri has an Israeli-government issued press ID.

CPJ tried to reach Budeiri via messaging app but she did not respond. 

In a separate incident on May 27, 2021, Israeli police officers arrested reporter Zeina al-Halawani and cameraman Wahbi Mikeh, who work for the pro-Fatah broadcaster Al-Kofiyya, while they were covering a protest in Sheikh Jarrah, according to their employer, a statement on Facebook by the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate, the regional press freedom group SKeyes Center for Media and Cultural Freedom, and footage of the arrests posted on social media by local journalists. 

The footage shows two female Israeli police officers trying to restrain al-Halawani by grabbing her by the arms and neck and taking her away and a police officer taking Mikeh away; footage also shows damage to Mikeh’s camera. 

video posted on YouTube by the local news website Amad Media shows a group of Israeli police officers shoving Mikeh to the side of the street, forcibly bringing him to his knees, pushing him against a wall, and handcuffing him. Mikeh also displays blood on his fingers.

On May 28, al-Halawani and Mikeh were taken to Jerusalem’s Magistrate Court, which extended their detention until May 31, according to SKeyes and their employer.

The journalists’ lawyer, Ghad Khadmani, told SKeyes that the Israeli police had accused the journalists of assaulting security forces. In an interview with freelance journalist Harry Fear, posted on Facebook on June 7, al-Hawani said that she was charged with raising a Palestinian flag, inciting young people in Sheikh Jarrah to attack Israeli forces, and assaulting security forces. CPJ was unable to determine the status of these charges. Al-Halawani did not respond to a request for comment sent via messaging app and CPJ could not locate contact information for Khadmani, the lawyer.

On May 31, the Jerusalem’s Magistrate Court released al-Halawani and Mikeh on a bail of 2,000 shekels (US$617), but remanded them to house arrest until June 4, banned them from communicating with each other for two weeks, and barred them from reporting in Sheikh Jarrah for a month, according to news reports. In the video interview with Fear, al-Halawani said if the two journalists violate the restrictions placed on them they will be fined 7,000 shekels ($2,150)

CPJ emailed the Jerusalem District Attorney’s office but did not receive a response. 

Mikeh also did not reply to CPJ’s requests for comment sent via messaging app.  

In a separate incident on May 21, Israeli police officers shoved and beat Ahmed Gharabli, a photographer for the French news agency AFP, Nasser Atta, a cameraman for ABC News, Kareem Khader, a cameraman for CNN, and Fayez Abu Rumaila, a camera operator for the Turkish state-owned news agency Anadolu while they were covering a scuffle between Israeli security forces and young Palestinians in front of Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, according to SKeyesnews reports, and footage of the incident posted by journalists on social media.  

Gharabli told SKeyes that he was shoved by an Israeli police officer and he turned on his cell phone camera just in case the officer shoved him again. 

“I told him that I am a journalist and demanded that he stay away from me, but he took his truncheon and hit me four times in the leg. Another one grabbed me by the neck and pushed me to the ground. I sustained bruises and the camera lens was broken as a result of the attack,” Gharabali told SKeyes. 

Footage of the attack posted on social media by one of Gharabli’s colleagues shows a police officer shoving Gharabli and hitting him with the truncheon in his leg. Another officer then shoves him again. 

Two videos posted by Atta on his Twitter account show an Israeli police officer shoving Khader and chasing him away with the truncheon in his hand and a police officer grabbing Atta, shoving him, and tearing his shirt and hitting him with the truncheon while a colleague says, “He is an ABC journalist.”

On June 5, Atta told CPJ via messaging app that Khader was hit by shrapnel from a stun grenade and Rami Khateeb, a cameraman for the Jordanian state-owned broadcaster Jordan TV, was hit with rubber bullets. Khateeb didn’t immediately reply to CPJ’s request for comment sent via messaging app. Atta shared with CPJ several videos and pictures of the police tearing his shirt and charging against journalists. 

Abu Rumaila told SKeyes that he was filming the attack on Gharabli when a police officer approached him, hit him with his truncheon, and threatened to arrest him. 

CPJ was unable to locate contact information for Khader or Abu Rumaila. CPJ emailed CNN but did not receive a response. Anadolu’s Middle East news editor Turgut Alp Boyraz did not respond to an email request for comment. 

In response to CPJ’s email request regarding Mikeh, al-Halawani, and the other journalists’ cases, the Israeli police spokesperson’s office said that during protests in recent weeks, “the police were forced to disperse the rioters, including journalists who sometimes took part in the riot or incitement to violence, despite being officials and journalists.”

As CPJ documented, at least eight journalists were injured while covering protests in Jerusalem in early May.