Ali Aliwiwe, the host of an evening news program on Palestinian Radio 4, was arrested by Israeli security forces at his home in the West Bank city of Hebron at 2:30 a.m. on October 21, 2015, an hour after he returned from work, his boss told CPJ.
Raed al-Atrash, the head of national and political programs at the station, told CPJ that Aliwiwe was put in administrative detention in Ofer prison, southwest of the West Bank city of Ramallah. Under administrative detention procedures, authorities may hold detainees for six months without charge or trial and extend the detention an unlimited number of times.
CPJ asked the Israel Defense Forces about the arrests of 10 Palestinian journalists, including Aliwiwe, and whether the arrests were linked to their journalism.
In an emailed response on October 10, 2016, its Public Appeals Office said Aliwiwe and other journalists were detained due to activity in terror organizations including Hamas and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), and that their detention was a preventative measure taken to neutralize a security threat that could not be addressed by criminal trial because of classified information. The statement did not specify exact legal charges against any of the journalists or in which organization the individuals were suspected of involvement.
In December 2015, Aliwiwe was moved to the Negev detention facility in south Israel and his detention was renewed twice, his sister Susan Aliwiwe told CPJ.
On the evening of Aliwiwe’s arrest, Radio 4 covered the shooting of Bashar and Hussam Jabari, teenage cousins who were killed by the Israel Defense Forces in Hebron after a soldier was wounded. Israeli authorities circulated images showing the bodies of the boys next to knives. Palestinian residents disputed the authenticity of the images, saying the knives had been planted.
A Radio 4 correspondent interviewed residents and relayed developments to Aliwiwe, who was in the studio. Aliwiwe was broadcasting live until 1 a.m., the channel’s director, Riyad al-Khamis, who was in the studio with him at the time, told CPJ in an interview at the station’s office in September 2016. Al-Khamis described Aliwiwe’s broadcasts as “very professional” and said, “We were covering a fast-moving story the best we could.”
CPJ was not able to independently review Aliwiwe’s radio broadcasts.
Aliwiwe’s arrest came during an especially tense period, amid a wave of Palestinians stabbing Israeli soldiers and civilians, and Israeli security forces shooting assailants, alleged assailants and protesters. Israeli officials have accused Palestinian news outlets, as well as individuals on Facebook, of encouraging Palestinian attacks and inciting violence with their broadcasts. Several Palestinian channels have been closed down in the past year and dozens of individuals–including journalists–have been arrested for incitement, either through the media or on Facebook, according to media reports.
Al-Khamis denied that Aliwiwe or any of his colleagues incited listeners to violence. “There was no incitement [in our coverage] at all,” al-Khamis said. Al-Atrash called on the Israeli authorities to provide a “clear definition of incitement so we can stay away from it.”
On the morning of his arrest, Aliwiwe was questioned about his work for Radio 4 and his posts on Facebook, his sister told CPJ. She said her brother was not a member of Hamas.
In his Facebook account, which Aliwiwe used to solicit and disseminate information for and about his broadcasts, Aliwiwe reported closely on the violence in the weeks before his arrest. In his social media posts, reviewed by CPJ, Aliwiwe accused Israeli forces of “executing” Palestinians “in cold blood” on the pretext that they had attempted to carry out stabbings, and shared interviews conducted by his station with families of killed Palestinians. In a post the night of his arrest, Aliwiwe shared his station’s report about an Israeli settler who was run over by a Palestinian driver and killed.
In 2016, Radio 4 was shut down twice by the Israel Defense Forces for between 24 and 48 hours for unknown reasons, al-Khamis said. The station’s employees have adopted a policy of taking all recording equipment home every evening to prevent it being confiscated or destroyed, he said.
Aliwiwe’s October 2015 arrest came less than a month after he was released from six months of administrative detention. During that time Aliwiwe was questioned about his work for the station and an intelligence officer warned him against using his work at the station to incite violence, according to Al-Atrash.
Aliwiwe has Crohn’s disease, which has been worsening in prison because he cannot maintain the diet needed to keep the condition under control, his sister said.