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Israeli forces arrest two Palestinian journalists in West Bank

The arrest of the journalists, one of whom was later released, was condemned by the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate as 'a crime to muzzle speech'
A video journalist kicks away a tear gas grenade fired during a demonstration by Palestinian journalists alongside Israel's controversial separation barrier in Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank on 17 November 2019 (AFP)

Israeli forces arrested nine Palestinians across the West Bank on Tuesday, including two journalists, an action swiftly condemned by the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate.

One of the journalists, Sameh Manasreh, was arrested in the northern West Bank town of Tulkarm but was later released, while another, Radi Karameh, was detained in Hebron. They were accused of taking part in popular resistance. 

But Palestinian Journalists Syndicate head Naser Abu Bakr said their arrests were "a crime to muzzle speech". They will join 26 other Palestinian journalists currently in Israel jails, he said.

The arrests come a day after Palestinians in Bethlehem, Ramallah and occupied East Jerusalem were detained by Israeli forces, including seven in the East Jerusalem village of Issawiya.

Israeli forces also broke into Palestinian homes in Silwan, a neighbourhood south of al-Aqsa Mosque, whose residents are under threat of being expelled and their homes demolished.

Last week, Israel's Kan news channel reported that Israel's border force had sent 694 Palestinians living in the Jerusalem area without permits to the West Bank. Many of them were daily workers.

Demolition notifications 

Palestinians living in the West Bank are also facing increasing violence and pressure, according to a report that revealed that settler attacks on their properties more than doubled in the first six months of this year compared to the last.

On Monday, Israeli authorities notified several Palestinians living in Masafer Yatta, a collection of villages south of Hebron, that they plan to demolish their homes and sheep farms, Al-Araby Al-Jadeed newspaper reported.

The 12 Palestinian communities living within the villages in Masafer Yatta regularly face eviction threats from Israeli authorities because their lands are designated as closed military zones. 

Last month, several Palestinians in Khirbat al-Mufkara, one of the villages, were injured when a mob of Israeli settlers attacked them with tear gas, smashed windows and tyres.

Further north, on Monday, in the small town of Khallet Hassan, Israeli settlers prevented Palestinian farmers from accessing their olive trees.

Khallet Hassan has been threatened since 1983, as five illegal settlements between the nearby cities of Salfit and Qalqilya have sought to expand and connect as one.

Settlers have also reportedly cut down nearly 70 olive and almond trees in Burin village, south of the city of Nablus.