Israeli military forces arrested Palestinian freelance journalist Radwan Qatanani on October 25, 2023. He was later placed in administrative detention for six months.
Qatanani covers issues related to Israel’s military occupation for several Palestinian news websites, including Etar, Arabi 21, Hadarat, and the Quds News Network. Al-Jazeera has also described him as a researcher and activist.
Israeli military forces searched Qatanani’s home in the Askar Refugee Camp, on the outskirts of the West Bank city of Nablus, in the early morning. When they didn’t find the journalist there, they called him and asked him to come home. Qatanani returned to the house and was arrested, Qatanani’s brother, Ali Qatanani, told Palestinian press freedom group MADA. Beirut-based regional press freedom organization SKeyes and the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate also reported on the arrest.
According to the official Commission of Detainees Affairs posts on Facebook, an administrative detention order was issued against Qatanani on November 8. 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.
Qatanani´s brother told CPJ that Qatanani was being held in Megiddo Prison, in northern Israel, and that the family has been unable to get any information about his condition or the reasons for his arrest.
Qatanani is a frequent contributor to Palestinian news website ETAR; over the last few months he has written on topics including the role of Ramadan in Arab history, Israeli imprisonments of Palestinians, Israeli actions in the Palestinian town of Huwara, south of Nablus, Palestinian resistance against Israeli occupation, and Hamas’ principles and demands.
Qatanani also shares commentary on his personal X account. Prior to his arrest, Qatanani posted a tweet lamenting the death in an Israeli prison of the Hamas-affiliated Sheikh Omar Daragmeh and a video showing Hamas fighters looking after Israeli babies and children taken hostage during the militant group’s Operation Al-Aqsa Flood on October 7. In an October 10 tweet, he also questioned the morality of the Israeli army.
Qatanani is one of 17 Palestinian journalists in Israeli custody as of December 1, 2023, the date of CPJ’s annual prison census. According to Palestinian officials, 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.
Qatanani has been arrested by Israeli forces in the past. On July 18 2017, he was arrested in the Askar Refugee Camp, according to Arabi 21, his employer at the time and SKeyes. He spent 20 months in administrative detention and was released in February 2019, according to news reports.
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.