Palestinian journalist Tareq Abu Zeid was arrested by Israeli forces at his home in Nablus in the Palestinian West Bank on October 1, 2020.
Abu Zeid is a freelance reporter who contributes to the broadcaster Palestine Mubasher and the Al-Quds daily newspaper, covering mainly local news in Nablus and another West Bank city, Jenin. Both outlets are pro-Fatah, the ruling party in the Palestinian West Bank. He also posts news video reports on his personal Facebook account. Abu Zeid used to work as a reporter for Al-Aqsa TV, which is affiliated with Hamas, Fatah’s rival faction.
On October 1, Israeli security forces raided Abu Zeid’s home and arrested him, according to news reports and the regional press freedom organization SKeyes Center for Media and Cultural Freedom.
Speaking to SKeyes, Abu Zeid’s wife, Nour Abu Zeid, said Israeli soldiers blew open the house’s door around 3 a.m., seized Abu Zeid’s cell phone and computer, and took her husband away. In statements to the London-based news website Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, Nour Abu Zeid said the unit’s commanding officer refused to disclose the reasons for Abu Zeid’s arrest.
According to news reports, Israeli authorities transferred Abu Zeid to the Petah Tikva detention center inside Israel on October 3. Throughout October, the Salem military court extended Abu Zeid’s detention multiple times, according tonews reports and SKeyes. On October 26, Abu Zeid was transferred from the Jalameh Investigation Center to Megiddo Prison, in northern Israel, news reports said.
According to Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedom (MADA) his lawyer was able to visit Abu Zeid in jail on October 13 and he told Abu Zeid’s wife that he is being interrogated about his work as a journalist.
Abu Zeid’s wife, Nour Abu Zeid, was cited by news reports as saying that a hearing had been scheduled for October 29 and she expected an indictment to be filed on that date in connection to Abu Zeid’s work as a journalist. CPJ has been unable to determine whether the hearing occurred or what the outcome was. CPJ could not locate contact information for Nour Abu Zeid or the name of the journalist’s lawyer, and the journalist’s mother did not respond to questions sent via messaging app.
As of late 2020, Abu Zeid is still being held in Megiddo prison, according to Heba Baydoun, a representative of the Palestinian Prisoners’ Club, a prisoner support group, who communicated with CPJ via messaging app.
In mid-August, Abu Zeid posted a video report on his Facebook page about Israeli bulldozers demolishing Palestinian homes in two villages east of the central West Bank city of Salfit to pave the way for the expansion of a Jewish settlement. A month earlier, he posted a video report, also on his Facebook page, about owners of restaurants, cafes, and gyms protesting the economic impact of COVID-19 restrictions by staging a sit-in in Nablus.
Palestinian intelligence officers arrested Abu Zeid in Nablus on August 8, 2017, on allegations of leaking sensitive information to hostile parties, as CPJ documented at the time.
In late 2020, CPJ emailed the Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories, the Israeli military’s administrative wing of the occupied Palestinian territories, and wrote to the Israeli military’s international spokesman Jonathan Conricus via messaging app to inquire about the reasons for Abu Zeid’s arrest and whether official charges have been filed. Neither replied.