Israeli security forces are seen near Hebron, in the occupied West Bank, on June 11, 2022. Israeli forces recently detained Palestinian journalist Amer Abu Arafa in Hebron. (AFP/Mosab Shawer)

Israeli forces arrest Palestinian journalist Amer Abu Arafa in West Bank

New York, July 19, 2022 – Israeli authorities should release Amer Abu Arafa immediately and stop detaining and harassing Palestinian journalists, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Tuesday.

Before dawn on Tuesday, July 19, Israel Defense Forces soldiers arrested Abu Arafa, a correspondent for the London-based Quds Press News Agency, at his home in the Israeli-occupied West Bank city of Hebron, according to reports by Quds Press, the Palestinian Authority-owned WAFA news agency, and the Hamas-affiliated news agency Shehab News.

About 30 soldiers arrived in four military vehicles, blindfolded and handcuffed Abu Arafa, raided his home, and then detained him, his wife Safaa al-Hroub told Shehab News. She said IDF forces also seized 24,000 shekels (US$6,980) during the raid.

CPJ could not immediately determine where Abu Arafa was being held or why he was detained.

“Instead of taking steps toward accountability and respecting press freedom, Israeli authorities have doubled down on repression by tossing another Palestinian journalist into detention,” said CPJ Senior Middle East and North Africa Researcher Justin Shilad. “Israeli authorities should release Amer Abu Arafa immediately and stop silencing Palestinian journalists.”

According to that Quds Press News Agency report, Abu Arafa covers the southern West Bank for that outlet and other Palestinian news organizations. He has recently reported on local politics, Israeli policies toward Palestinians in Jerusalem, and the killing of Palestinian American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh.

Starting in 2011, Israeli authorities detained Abu Arafa for nearly two years without charge after he reported on Israeli forces’ arrests of 120 Hamas members, as CPJ documented at the time. He was also detained by Palestinian Authority forces in 2017.

WAFA reported that Abu Arafa’s arrest was part of a larger campaign of Israeli raids in the West Bank on Tuesday. IDF soldiers have conducted near-daily raids in Palestinian cities and towns since a series of attacks by Palestinian suspects on Israelis earlier this year, according to The Associated Press.

Abu Akleh, a correspondent for Al-Jazeera Arabic, was fatally shot in the head on May 11, 2022, while covering an Israeli army operation in the West Bank town of Jenin. A U.S. forensic investigation found that the IDF was “likely responsible” for shooting and killing Abu Akleh, but that there was “no reason to believe that this was intentional.”

After the publication of this article, a representative from the IDF’s North American Media Desk told CPJ via email that Abu Arafa had been arrested “on suspicion of involvement in terrorist activity.”

[Editors’ note: This article has been updated to include the IDF’s response to CPJ.]