Israeli arrests daunt Palestinian journalists in West Bank

Published July 10, 2024
Bethlehem: Photojournalist Moath Amarneh smiles at a hospital following his release from an Israeli jail.—AFP
Bethlehem: Photojournalist Moath Amarneh smiles at a hospital following his release from an Israeli jail.—AFP

DHEISHEH CAMP: Within days of Oct 7 raid, Palestinian photojournalist Moath Amarneh was arrested by Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank and thrown into prison.

As the conflict raged in the Gaza Strip, Amarneh spent nearly nine months behind bars until his release on Tuesday, though he was never charged with an offence or put on trial.

Including Amarneh, the US-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has documented 51 Palestinian media workers detained in Gaza and the West Bank by Israeli authorities since the start of the war.

The 37-year-old freelancer was placed under “administrative detention”, which allows for suspects to be held without charge for renewable periods of up to six months. His initial term was reduced to five months, but then renewed for four months in March.

Mohammed Laham of the Palestinian Journalists’ Union said “90 per cent of the journalists arrested are in administrative detention”, including five women detained since October 7.

On his release, Amarneh was transferred to hospital due to “poor health”, according to the family.

Amarneh, who in 2019 was wounded while covering a protest against Israeli land confiscation, was arrested at his home in Bethlehem’s Dheisheh refugee camp, his family said.

For five years, since being hit by a rubber bullet fired by Israeli troops, Amarneh has used a prosthetic eye. But he did not have it with him in prison, and relatives were not allowed to visit him, his wife Walaa Amarneh said in an interview before his release.

Published in Dawn, July 10th, 2024

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