Israeli military forces arrested Palestinian journalist and producer Thaer Fakhoury on October 20, 2023. He is being held in administrative detention for six months.
Fakhoury is the director of the media production company Space Media, which provides video production services, including to Qatari broadcaster Al-Jazeera. He also provides live footage of events in the West Bank on his Facebook account, which has 74,000 followers. He also works as a graphic designer and caricaturist, according to his personal Facebook account.
Israeli military forces surrounded Fakhoury´s home in southern Hebron and raided it, according to news reports and a report by the Palestinian press freedom group MADA. Fakhoury´s father told MADA that the journalist and his brother were held in a room and questioned while soldiers searched the house. Soldiers blindfolded and handcuffed Fakhoury, seized his cell phone and his car keys, and took him away in a military jeep parked near his house.
A relative who spoke to CPJ on the condition of anonymity said the family believed the arrest was related to Fakhoury’s social media posting. On the days prior to his arrest, Fakhoury posted two live videos on his Facebook account depicting Israeli military vehicles, including tanks, trucks and jeeps, amassing in the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon.
A colleague of Fakhoury told CPJ on the condition of anonymity, citing fear of reprisal, that Fakhoury was placed in administrative detention for six months in Megiddo Prison in northern Israel. 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.
Fakhoury 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.
Fakhoury has faced arrest by Palestinian authorities in the past. In July 2022, the Palestinian intelligence service summoned Fakhoury and held him for several hours, according to news reports and MADA. Fakhoury was questioned about his relationships with other journalists, the outlets he worked for, and his work as a journalist on Al-Jazeera’s investigative program “What’s Hidden is Greater.” Fakhoury had filmed interviews for the program about Nizar Banat, a critic of the Palestinian Authority; Banat’s family alleges he was killed by Palestinian security forces.
In July 2019, Palestinian preventive security forces arrested Fakhoury in Hebron and held him for five days on charges of insulting the public authority and inciting sectarian strife for producing a film that named security officials, according to news reports. Fakhoury denied involvement in the production.
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.