Mohammad Badr

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Palestinian journalist Mohammad Badr surrendered himself to Israeli custody on October 28, 2023 after Israeli military forces arrested his wife, journalist Soujoud Al-Assi, earlier that day to pressure Badr to turn himself in. He was later placed in administrative detention for six months. 

Badr is a reporter and columnist for the Palestinian online website Al-Hadath, where he also works in the Hebrew translations department. He has also contributed columns on Palestinian prisoners’ affairs to news websites including the Quds News Network and Metras

In October, Israeli forces began to put pressure on Badr’s family to force him to surrender. The pressure began after Badr received a phone call from an Israeli military officer ordering him to return to custody after he had been released from a four-month detention earlier this year even though he had no outstanding charges, according to Palestinian press freedom group MADA. On October 22, Israeli military forces first arrested Bader’s father and two brothers, according to the Beirut-based press freedom group SKeyes and Assi, who spoke to CPJ. 

Less than a week later, Israeli forces arrested Assi, also a journalist for Al-Hadath, from the couple’s home in Beit Liqya, southwest of Ramallah. During her arrest, Israeli soldiers searched and vandalized their house and seized electronic devices, according to the Palestinian press group MADA. Later that day, Badr turned himself in, Al-Hadath editor-in-chief Rola Sarhan told CPJ.

Assi, Badr’s father, and one of Badr’s brothers have since been released; a second brother is still in detention, Assi told CPJ. 

On November 7, Badr was placed in administrative detention for six months, according to a Facebook post by the official Commission of Detainees Affairs. 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.

Assi told CPJ that Badr was being held in Ofer Prison in the Israeli-occupied West Bank; his lawyer has been unable to visit him. 

Badr’s most recent reporting, published in Al-Hadath in September, details a Palestinian prisoner’s legal battles with Israel to be declared a prisoner of war and a freedom fighter rather than a security threat. Another piece analyzes Israeli military policy toward the militant group Hezbollah and Iran.

Badr 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.  

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.