Palestinian media rallies for protection after assaults by police

Human rights groups in the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah announced the formation of a legal team to follow up on the attacks on journalists.

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Dozens of Palestinian journalists gathered outside the United Nations building in Ramallah on Monday to advocate for press freedom in the aftermath of violent clashes with Palestinian security forces sparked by the death of an activist in custody.

Nizar Banat, a 43-year-old from Hebron known for social media videos leaking suspected corruption within the Palestinian Authority (PA), died last week after security forces entered his home and violently detained him, his family said.

Days of clashes between protesters and police have left numerous journalists injured.

Reporters Without Borders said on Monday that 12 Palestinian journalists, comprising five women, had been battered by Palestinian police during the weekend unrest in the occupied West Bank.

Naila Khalil, a reporter at an international outlet, said Palestinian reporters had submitted a letter to the UN urging the world body “to take necessary and immediate measures” to protect media freedom.

Mohammed Gharafi of the Ultra Palestine news site said he had been harassed by Palestinian security forces who threatened to confiscate his phone if he did not stop filming the protests.

Separately, human rights groups in Ramallah announced on Monday the formation of a legal team to follow up on the attacks on journalists.

In a press conference, the Director-General of the Independent Commission for Human Rights, Ammar al-Dwaik, said several human rights organizations have taken testimonies from male and female journalists who were attacked while covering the demonstrations in Ramallah during the past few days.

“Journalists were deliberately targeted – especially women journalists in the field – through assault, hijacking of cameras, or theft of communication devices,” al-Dwaik said.

He described the events as “very worrying” and ones that prevent journalists from fulfilling their role.

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