Israeli security forces abducted and detained close to 20 Palestinians in raids on January 21-22 in the occupied West Bank. Palestinian journalist Yazan Abu Salah is among those who have been detained. The Israeli soldiers also invaded and ransacked several Palestinian homes and caused significant damage to private property, the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society reported on January 22, Wednesday.
Nine Palestinians were abducted from their homes in Hebron at dawn on Tuesday. Two people were taken from Tulkarem in the northern West Bank, three from Tubas in the northeastern region, and two from Nablus in the north of the occupied territory. On the same night, the Israeli forces abducted three more Palestinians – two after raiding the Sebastia town, north of Nablus city. The Palestinian journalist, Yazan Abu Salah, was detained while he was attempting to cross the Zaatara checkpoint, south of Nablus.
Yazan Abu Salah is a resident of Arraba town, south of Jenin city in the Jenin governorate. He was reportedly on his way home from Ramallah when he was abducted by Israeli forces. He has been transferred to an undisclosed location and his whereabouts are unknown. It is also still unclear on what grounds the 20 Palestinians have been detained.
Israel has also been cracking down on Palestinian as well as Israeli and international journalists who have been reporting about the Israeli occupation and its human rights violations and war crimes. Many journalists have been killed or severely injured while doing their job. The Israeli military and other security forces have fired tear gas canisters, stun grenades, rubber bullets, and at times, even live ammunition at journalists who are reporting from protest sites in the occupied Palestinian territories of Gaza, West Bank and East Jerusalem.
Journalists have also had to face arbitrary arrests, and they are often banned from entering Gaza and the West Bank. Female Palestinian journalists have also reported being subjected to sexual and physical harassment by the Israeli forces.
In 2018, when the Great March of Return protests began in Gaza along the border with Israel, the Israeli military came down heavily on the protesters, killing close to 250 Palestinians, most of them civilians. Among the dead were two journalists. 39 journalists were also wounded by snipers.
The Palestinian Journalists Syndicate (PJS) recently released a report which stated that Israeli security forces had committed 760 violations and crimes against Palestinian journalists in 2019. The report which was issued by the freedoms committee of the PJS recorded 12 critical injuries caused by live ammunition, 62 injuries with rubber-coated steel bullets and 58 injuries with tear gas canisters and stun grenades, along with 78 cases of tear gas suffocation. 92 cases were documented where Israeli forces had prevented journalists from reporting, and 250 cases of journalists’ social media accounts being shut down were also reported.
The case of Gaza photographer Attiya Darwish had also invited widespread international attention and condemnation. Darwish was shot in the face with a tear gas canister in December 2018, while he was covering the Great March of Return protests on the Gaza-Israel border. He suffered several fractures in his face and jaw, along with massive bleeding in his left eye and ear, leading to 80% severe visual impairment. Subsequently, Darwish underwent medical treatment for his eye in Egypt and Jordan, but eventually lost all vision in his left eye.
Darwish is just one example of the brutality and violence perpetrated by the Israeli forces against Palestinian journalists whose only crime is to expose the brutality of Israeli occupation.