By Mohammad al-Kassim, Israel Hayom—
Palestinian journalists never intended to become part of the news in the days after the killing of activist Nizar Banat, but the brutal treatment and the arrest of many of them at the hands of the Palestinian Authority security forces has forced them to call for international intervention and protection.
Dozens of journalists demonstrated outside the office of the United Nations High Commissioner in Ramallah in the West Bank this week demanding an urgent intervention.
They handed the UN commissioner a letter asking him to take a stand to stop the attacks that have so far affected at least 30 journalists.
Palestinian Authority security forces attacked protesters and journalists in the West Bank cities of Ramallah, Hebron and Bethlehem, as well as the Dheisheh refugee camp located just south of Bethlehem earlier in the week, after five days of demonstrations over the death of one of the PA’s most prominent critics, Nizar Banat, who died while in custody on Thursday.
Journalist Mohammed Ghafari says he was not surprised by the PA security forces behavior.
“Journalists were allowed to report, but what happened next was that we were brutally assaulted, and our equipment smashed,” he says.
Ghafari says the suppression of demonstrators and journalists by security forces in civilian clothes is frightening.
“It seems that there was a clear decision to prevent us from covering,” he says.
Ghafari, who was attacked and injured when pushed by the plainclothes security forces said that “this was done because the PA wants to hide the truth.”
“The Palestinian Authority is aware of the extent of the damage that could be inflicted upon it if the images of repression against the demonstrators and journalists by security personnel goes out,” he said.
The harsh treatment left some with bruises, while others were arrested and later released, and many saw their equipment damaged or confiscated.
Journalist Najla Zeitoun was physically beaten and her phone was forcibly taken away.
She says that she was wearing a vest emblazoned with the word “Press” with her press card issued by the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate hanging around her neck while covering the demonstration. Video of the attack was posted on Twitter.
Zeitoun says that while covering the protest and using her phone to document the beating by the police, she felt someone from behind trying to snatch her phone from her hand. Continue Reading….