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Israel Targets Fundamental Freedoms

Written by Subject: Israel - Palestine
Israel Targets Fundamental Freedoms

by Stephen Lendman

Numerous Knesset bills compromise speech, assembly, association and dissent. Israel's free press is endangered.

Palestine is ruthlessly targeted. The Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA) documents events daily. Monthly updates follow.

It's latest report covers March. "(N)o significant improvement" occurred, it said. Throughout the Occupied Territories, "violations against (Palestinian) journalists" increased.

Israeli occupation forces (IOF) target them with "stun grenades and rubber bullets…" Injuries result. Arrests follow.

On March 23, Israeli forces attacked AP photographer Iyad Hamad. He was covering Israeli soldiers. They were targeting Aida refugee camp Palestinian youths.

On March 29, IOF attacked journalists covering a Jerusalem Earth Day commemoration.

On March 7, Israeli settlers assaulted three Palestinian photojournalists. Abbas Momani, Maath Misha'al, and Abdul Karin Mesetif were victimed.

On March 16, settlers attacked Palestine Today TV correspondent Fida Nasser. IOF ignored their violence.

They detained Nasser. She was preparing a report on how Jewish holidays affect Palestinians in Hebron.

On March 23, IOF detained six Palestinian journalists near Nablus and Bethlehem. Mohamed Assayed, Mohamed Hassan, Rami Abdu, Mousa Alshaer, Abd-Alrahman Younis, and an unnamed US photographer were targeted.

On March 29, IOF Al Roaya TV correspondent Ahmed Barahma and cameraman Mohamed Shousha were attacked.

They were en route to a village near Jericho to film "Bab Alkarama."

On March 2, OIF prevented Alquds Net correspondent Diala Jwehan from covering protests against closing the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

On March 18, Maan TV cameraman Jalal Hamied as well as photojournalists Abd-Alrahaman Younis and Mousa Alshaer were prevented from covering a Tekoa area military jeep rollover incident.

On March 24, IOF prohibited Shihab News Agency correspondent Amer Abu Arafa from covering Israeli forces raiding Hebron City near Alansar Mosque.

Journalist Diala Jwehan said she moved from one place to another to take photos. A "Special Forces man approached and he pushed me hard," she said.

"I was also approached by security men who were about to beat me, but colleagues quickly dragged me away from them."

Faten Alwan-Alhura said:

"(S)ecurity personnel in…civil cloth started pushing us and all the journalists who were present on site, including my colleague, Yahya Habayeb - (an) Alhura TV cameraman…"

"(W)hen (she) asked him why are you doing this…he commanded me to stay away or he (would) confiscate the camera…"

"(W)hen (she) asked him what his name was, he told (her): 'you journalists need discipline,' and then he said: 'Thank your Lord that you are not a man."

She demanded knowing the security person's name. She wanted to file a complaint against him. "I'm a ghost no one can punish me," he said.

Journalist Abu Taima expressed frustration saying:

"There is a heavy burden on Palestinian women, and for 20 years we have begged the successive governments to protect women by amending the legal penalties and personal status, but without a avail, and since all Palestinian laws guarantee citizens the right to freedom of expression, it is our right as journalists to express our opinions about the government's different policies especially those relating to women."

"The attempts to intimidate women journalists, offending and abusing them in any form, and imposing censorship on their writing are unacceptable and contrary to the spirit of the laws."

Photographer Abbas Momani said:

"I went to cover the clashes happening near the Israeli settlement of Beit Eil, and before I arrived to the site, I was surprised by armed settlers, they attacked my car and began throwing large stones at it from within a walking distance, and I remained inside the car."

"The Occupation soldiers did not interfere to prevent it or stop it, and the settlers were moved away by the soldiers after they caused major damage to my car."

"Luckily I only got minor injuries in my left hand, but they caused major damage to the car, the windshield was crashed and many parts of the car were damaged."

Photojournalist Maath Misha'al said:

"While I was shooting the attack on Momani, a group of arm settlers attacked me and my colleague Mesetif, where one began to beat us and put his hand on the camera lens to prevent us from coverage, and told us that photography is prohibited, and I told him you are not entitled to prevent us and you do not have the authority to do so, he pointed the gun at me, and the situation was scary, so I screamed at the Israeli army, and they moved him away."

Soldiers nearby did nothing to help him while under assault. He could have been seriously injured.

Complaints when filed are whitewashed. Most often Israeli security forces are at fault. Palestinian journalists aren't safe. Attacking them is standard practice.

Fida Nasserfor said settlers attacked, beat and sprayed her with red wine. Soldiers detained her.

Police interrogated her. She was charged with assaulting female settlers. They testified against her. They lied. Their word against Fida's mattered most.

Incidents like these are commonplace. Palestinian rights are violated. Journalists aren't safe. They're fair game. They're targeted for doing their job.

Majd Kayyal is an Israeli Arab journalist/researcher/political activist. On April 12, Richard Silverstein reported his arrest on return from Lebanon and Jordan.

Israel calls him a national security suspect. He attended a Beirut event. It commemorated As-Safir's 40th anniversary. It's a supportive Hezbollah publication, said Silverstein.

Kayyal participated in a 2011 humanitarian flotilla to Gaza. He's involved with the Adalah Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel. He's linked to the Israeli Arab Balad political party.

His activism makes him vulnerable. He's a "ready target," said Silverstein. After his arrest, Israeli security forces raided his Haifa home. They stole his computer. They took other electronic devices and materials.

He's denied him access to counsel. Doing so is standard Israeli practice during interrogations.

Kayyal's lawyer said "prohibiting a meeting with an attorney is a gross violation of the suspect's basic rights."

Victims are isolated. They threatened. They're beaten. They're tortured. Some face rape and/or other forms of sexual abuse threats. They're forced to sign confessions.

Innocence is no defense. Persecution is longstanding Israeli practice. Palestinians are criminalized for not being Jewish. Rogue states operate this way. Ruthlessness defines Israeli policies.

Silverstein posted an earlier Kayyal Mondoweiss interview. He was asked about being concerned about mistreatment for being Palestinian.

"I hope not, but usually Palestinian activists face more problems from Israeli armed forces," he said.

"However, as a Palestinian citizen of Israel, it's extremely important to show the unity of the Palestinian people to the international community and remind the political leadership that they cannot abandon our rights and must include the status of '48 Palestinians in any just solution."

Asked how he sees today's Palestinian struggle, he said:

"I think that the Arab spring is the most inspiring and is providing us with a renewed motivation."

He misread events at the time. Arab spring was far from blooming. Conditions today in countries like Egypt and Bahrain are worse than ever.

Iraq, Libya and Syria are cauldrons of violence and human misery. Saudi Arabian persecution continues unrelenting.

Tunisians where Arab spring protests began remain repressed. Yemenis got same old, same old under new leadership. Palestinian suffering remains extreme.

Kayyal was hopeful, saying:

"I see that we need to rebuild the popular struggle on the ground. We need to revitalize the participation of the youth and the students in forging a more powerful movement…"

"Now is the time to move beyond partisan problems and focus on the main target, which is the colonial and racist regime Israel has imposed on the Palestinian people."

His arrest "constitutes a severe assault on press freedom," said Silverstein.

Israeli lawlessness is under gag order. Israeli media can't report what happened or remains ongoing. Doing so risks possible prosecution.

On April 14, Silverstein reported more. Kayyal's remand was extended until April 22. Doing so gives Israeli interrogators more time to brutalize him.

He remains incommunicado. He's isolated from outside help. Police state ruthlessness defines official Israeli policy.

Silverstein got a copy of Israel's gag order (o139 blog). The Electronic Intifada obtained a copy of the charge sheet.

Kayyal is being lawlessly investigated for "unlawful travel to Arab counties." For "contact with a (so-called) foreign agent."

Israel lies calling doing so constitutes "serious offenses against the security of the state."

Jewish Israeli journalists travel freely to Lebanon, Jordan and other Arab countries. Some are told not to. Prosecutions don't follow.

Jewish justice is one thing. Arabs another. Even for Israeli citizens. Rights aren't apportioned equally. Racism is institutionalized. Persecution follows.

Kayyal's freedom flotilla participation to Gaza alone makes him an enemy of the state. He's a marked man. Expect justice systematically denied. Perhaps longterm imprisonment.

Thousands like him languish in Israel's gulag. It's one of the world's worst. Abuse and other forms of ill-treatment are common practice.

Palestinians have no rights whatever. Silverstein puts it this way. Israel is the only so-called regional democracy "where citizens are created equal and treated so - unless you're Palestinian."

Adalah criticizes Israel restricting Palestinian citizens from traveling to other Arab countries. Doing so "impose(s) severe limitations on social, cultural and religious ties between (them and) wider Arab and Muslim nations."

Translated court proceedings indicate Kayyal said:

"I ask to be told the names of the attorneys and the court gave me their names."

"The court has explained to me about the prohibition from meeting attorneys until 14 April 2014, at midnight, and told me that the hearing was held in the presence of my attorneys, who asked the representative of the police questions."

"The court has explained to me that my father, mother and brother were present in the courtroom. I have nothing further to add."

Full translated court proceedings were as follows:

At the Magistrate's Court in Haifa

13 April 2013

Days of Arrest 23318-04-14 Central Unit vs. Kayyal

Before the honorable justice Dr. Zayed Falah

Petitioner: Police Central Unit Versus Suspect Majd Kayyal
Present

• Attorney for the petitioner - Warrant Officer Marcel Daman

• Attorney for the suspect - Adv. Aram Mahamid and Adv. Fadi Khouri

• Suspect - no appearance (he is brought into the court after the interrogation by the attorney for the suspect and the summaries)

• Relatives of the suspect – his father, brother and mother

Minutes

Attorney for the Petitioner

Restates the content of the petition. Presents the investigative file to the court for perusal. Presents secret material.

Attorney for the Petitioner, in response to questions from the attorney for the suspects:

Q: Are you informed about all the investigative actions taken to date:

A: No.

Q: Have you given the court all the investigative material that has already been collected?

A: Indeed.

Q: Does the material presented to the Court include investigative memoranda and investigative actions that have already been done?

A: Yes.

Q: Have you also conveyed all of the actions that are yet to be taken?

A: Yes.

Q: At what stage is the investigation?

A: The investigation is still at its very beginning. The suspect was only arrested yesterday. According to the material that was found, he is expected to be investigated a few more times and the full future plan is before the court. I cannot commit myself to the number of investigations because I am not an investigator.

Q: What is the suspect suspected of?

A: What appears in the warrant. Contact with a foreign agent, leaving the country unlawfully.

Q: Is there a version for the suspicions?

A: (it is) all before the court. I have not investigated him and I will not investigate him. It's all by the Security Service (Shabak).

Q: About the foreign agent crime - is it known who he is?

A: I cannot specify. It is all in the secret report.

Q: What are the circumstances of the contact with the agent?

A: It's indicated in the secret report. As to dates - there is no exact date, everything is in the secret report.

Q: About the two suspicions - are they related?

A: I think so.

Q: Did the contact with the foreign agent happen while he was carrying out the second offense?

A: The investigation is being performed by the security services. All the material is before the court, for perusal. I cannot specify beyond this.

Q: An order restraining a meeting with an attorney at 8. The arrest warrant was issued at 9:30. Explain the gap.

A: It's a technical computer transaction, (it took) until we took out the computer. He was arrested yesterday evening. He was apprehended at 19:50 hours. This restraining order is under the responsibility of the security entities.

Q: In the matter of the order - did you explain the suspect that he is prohibited from meeting an attorney?

A: I did not review the content of the warning because the security service did the investigation. All the material is before the court and there is a secret report attached. The security services could not appear in court, and that is why I am here.

Q: Did he wish to give a message to his relatives?

A: I know that there was contact with his relatives. He was informed that he is under arrest. Beyond that I have no idea.

Q: Did you inform one of his relatives that he is restrained from contacting an attorney?

A: I have no answer about that. It is in the investigative material.

Q: Was the suspect investigated about one event or about several events?

A: All the material is before the court, all the actions taken from the moment he was arrested to this day. I cannot confirm the number of events.

Q: Can you confirm that the suspect cooperated in his interrogation and answered all the questions?

A: I have not reviewed what was investigated and asked. I was asked to come [here] for extension of the detention. The security services continue their investigation. All the material is before the court.

Q: How many investigative activities did you do yesterday?

A: A preliminary investigation and a continuation today. I don't know how many investigations were done yesterday. There was a preliminary investigation.

Q: Explain why you are asking for 15 days of detention?

A: These are serious offenses against the security of the state and there is material to be investigated.

Q: Are there details of all 15 days that require his continued detention, in the form of a work plan?

A: There are not specific details of each stage and what is done every day. The actions that are detailed could change, because they are dynamic. They cannot be done when he is discharged. The suspect was arrested at his home in Haifa.

Q: Was the search performed in one house or two?

A: The material is in the investigative file.

Q: Did you have a search warrant?

A: Yes. I know about the search warrant at the up-to-date address, which the Israel Police has. I know one address, (REDACTED) Street.

Q: Did you issue search warrants to two addresses?

A: I issued a search warrant for (REDACTED) Street, which is his address, as recorded in his personal ID card.

Q: Confirm that the suspect has no criminal record.

A: I did not examine his criminal record.

The attorney for the petitioner summarizes:
I repeat the petition. I ask that it be fully granted.

The attorney for the suspect summarizes:

This is a 23-year old journalist, with no criminal record, who was apparently apprehended on the Israel/Jordan border.

Since his arrest he has not been permitted to consult an attorney. No notice was given to his attorney and/or his family to visit him in his detention nor with regard to the prohibition on his meeting an attorney.

As you know, and it is decided law, that prohibiting a meeting with an attorney is a gross violation of the suspect's basic rights. I ask the court to take this into account and examine how many actions are required when the suspect is under arrest.

I ask that he be released immediately. Alternatively, that he be released under conditions. As another alternative, that the number of days required under detention be reduced.

The suspect is brought into the courtroom, his family and attorney leave the room.

The suspect:

I ask to be told the names of the attorneys and the court gave me their names.

The court has explained to me about the prohibition from meeting attorneys until 14 April 2014, at midnight, and told me that the hearing was held in the presence of my attorneys, who asked the representative of the police questions.

The court has explained to me that my father, mother and brother were present in the courtroom. I have nothing further to add.

Decision

1. I have before me a request to extend the suspect's detention for 15 days, due to suspicion of committing the crimes of contact with a foreign agent and unlawful travel to Arab countries.

2. I have reviewed the evidentiary material presented to me and have been persuaded that there is reasonable cause to suspect that the suspect has committed the crimes he is charged with.

I have also been persuaded that there is the risk that if he is released he could disrupt the investigation and endanger public security.

3. I have perused the secret report prepared by the Shabak, which I have marked BM/1.

This report includes background, investigative actions taken, and investigative actions that are still required, and I have been persuaded that the security entities must be permitted to complete their investigation fully, to come to the study of the truth.

4. I considered the possibility of releasing the suspect for an alternative form of custody and come to the conclusion that at this stage, there is no space for any alternative.

5. I have taken into account the fact that an order has been issued to prohibit meeting an attorney and I have also taken into account that the court must be permitted to oversee the investigative actions performed by the security entities, and for this reason I have decided to grant a number of detention days (than those) requested.

6. For this reason, I am extending the detention of the suspect until 22 April 2014, at 10am.

7. I issue an order prohibiting publication with regard to all proceedings in this case until 22 April 2014 at 10:00 and the proceedings will be held in camera until that date.

These minutes constitute reference for the detention.
Handed down and informed today, 13 Nissan 5774, 13 April 2014, in the presence of those persons present.

(signature)

Dr. Zayed Falah, Judge

Note: Israeli media are forbidden from publishing this transcript. Israelis are denied permission to read it.

Police states operate this way. Israel is one of the world's worst.

A Final Comment

On April 17, an Israeli court lifted Kayyal's gag order. According to Adalah:

"Following a request we submitted to the court, the gag order regarding the matter of a visit to Lebanon that foreign media have reported on will be canceled. The cancellation will take effect at noon" April 17 local time.

Lifting it doesn't help Kayyal. At the same time, he was released from detention. It doesn't matter. Israel wants him prosecuted. His fate hangs in the balance.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.

His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.

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