Al-Khawaja, a correspondent for the Hamas-run Al-Aqsa TV in the West Bank, was arrested at his home in Naalin village on the morning of October 20, 2014, according to his station and news reports.
Al-Khawaja’s brother, Firas, told the regional press freedom organization SKeyes that al-Khawaja had been taken to the Russian Compound detention facility in Jerusalem, where he was interrogated about his work for Al-Aqsa TV. The brother said that a lawyer had been allowed to visit al-Khawaja in the detention center.
Spokesmen for the Israeli Ministry of Public Security and the Israeli Prison Service did not respond to CPJ’s request for comment on why al-Khawaja was detained and what, if any, charges he faces.
In a statement on October 20, 2014, Al-Aqsa TV said that al-Khawaja’s arrest was the latest in an Israeli campaign to pressure the station.
Israeli officials have previously said that journalists working for al-Aqsa cannot be considered legitimate because of the station’s relationship with Hamas, which the Israeli government considers a terrorist group. In June, Israeli security forces raided two Palestinian media companies it claimed provided services to Hamas-affiliated outlets, including Al-Aqsa TV, according to the international rights organization Human Rights Watch and news reports. In the West Bank, Al-Aqsa’s West Bank director Aziz Kayed and cameraman Ahmed al-Khatib were also arrested this year. Both remain in prison. Al-Aqsa TV facilities were targeted by Israeli airstrikes in Gaza, part of the 50-day war that resulted from overflowing tensions in the aftermath of the murder of three Israeli teenagers, the murder of a 17-year-old Palestinian, and escalating retaliatory violence committed by all sides, according to news reports.
CPJ believes al-Khawaja, Kayed, and al-Khatib were arrested in relation to their newsgathering for al-Aqsa TV, which has also broadcast anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli propaganda, including calls for violence.