Israeli military forces arrested Palestinian journalist Mohamad al-Atrash, a radio host with Hebron-based Radio Alam, on November 8, 2023. Israeli authorities charged him with incitement on social media.
Soldiers arrested al-Atrash at dawn and raided his home in Hebron, in the West Bank, according to the London-based news website The New Arab and the Palestinian press freedom group MADA. Al-Atrash’s wife told Radio Alam his phone was confiscated in the raid.
Al-Atrash hosts the program “People’s Discussions” on Radio Alam. Since the beginning of the 2023 Israel-Gaza war, Al-Atrash has been reporting on a daily basis on the Israeli military campaign in Gaza, including airstrikes, shortages of fuel at Gaza hospitals, and the rising death toll, as well as the war’s impact on the West Bank. He also shares commentary on his personal Facebook account, which has nearly 10,000 followers. According to his Facebook page, al-Atrash is co-founder of Space Media, which provides media services to Palestinian companies and media outlets.
On Facebook, Radio Alam quoted al-Atrash’s lawyer, Khaled al-Araj, as saying that at a November 26 hearing Israeli prosecutors indicted al-Atrash for incitement over posts on his personal Facebook and Instagram accounts, rejected his bail, and extended his detention until the end of his trial without specifying a date. According to the Palestinian prisoner support group Addameer, jail sentences for incitement often range from six to 24 months and can include heavy fines. CPJ emailed the Israeli Justice Ministry for comment on the incitement charges against al-Atrash, but received no response.
Over the past few months, al-Atrash has posted commentary on his Facebook page, including a post about Palestinian authorities’ arrest of journalist Aqeel Awada for criticizing the Palestinian government in the West Bank and what al-Atrash described as Israel’s failure to achieve its goals during its military operations in Jenin in July.
Al-Atrash 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.
Al-Atrash was previously arrested by Israeli forces from his home in Hebron in April 2013, according to SKeyes and news reports. In January 2023, Al-Atrash was the target of a smear campaign on social media after his production company Space Media assisted the Qatari broadcaster Al-Jazeera with an episode of its investigative program “What’s Hidden is Greater.” Social media commentators accused him of putting Palestinian militants at risk for featuring them in the episode, which included information on security cooperation between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, according to news reports and the Beirut-based regional press freedom group SKeyes.
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.