Palestinian journalist and political commentator Imad Abu Awad was arrested by Israeli forces in Ramallah in the Israeli-occupied West Bank on October 19, 2023. He was later held under administrative detention for six months.
Abu Awad provides commentary to international and regional broadcasters including Al-Jazeera, Al-Ghad and Al-Qahera News. He also shares video clips of his TV appearances and comments on his Facebook account, which has over 3,800 followers. A former program producer for the Hamas-affiliated Al-Quds TV, he directs the Al-Quds Center for Palestinian and Israeli Studies think tank and the U-Smart Center for Training, a training center for Palestinians, in Ramallah.
Israeli forces arrested Abu Awad at his office at U-Smart Centre for Training and searched the premises, according to news reports and the Palestinian press freedom group MADA. They seized his cell phone and laptop before taking him away to an unknown destination.
In the days prior to his arrest, Abu Awad provided political commentary on the war in Gaza to several broadcasters, including Al-Jazeera. Abu Awad said international pressure on Israel could stop the war in Gaza, questioned Israel´s ability to wage a long-term war, and said that the Palestinians can resist Israel’s actions. On his Facebook account, he also criticized Palestinian government officials for laughing in front of TV cameras.
Ten days after his arrest, he was placed in administrative detention for six months and transferred to Nafha Prison, outside Beersheba, his brother told CPJ. Under administrative detention procedures, authorities may hold detainees for six months without charge if they suspect the detainee of planning to commit a future offense, and then extend the detention an unlimited number of times, according to the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem. Judges may accept evidence against the detainee without disclosing it on security grounds.
Abu Awad is one of the 17 Palestinian journalists in Israeli custody as of December 1, 2023, the date of CPJ’s annual prison census. Palestinian officials say Israeli forces have conducted mass arrests in the occupied West Bank since October 7, when Hamas attacked Israel, prompting Israel to declare war on the militant group. Dozens of members of the press have died, the vast majority Palestinian journalists and media workers killed in Israeli airstrikes on Gaza. There have also been numerous reports of assault, threats, cyberattacks, and censorship.
In January 2017, Abu Awad was arrested by Palestinian forces and held for four days, according to SKeyes. Abu Awad said that he was interrogated about his work as a journalist and accused without evidence of receiving money from Hamas.
Abu Awad’s brother told CPJ that the family spoke to Abu Awad in prison and that he is in good health.
CPJ emailed the Israel Security Agency, also known as the Shin Bet, in late 2023 for comment on the cases of imprisoned Palestinian journalists but received no response.