An award-winning Palestinian female journalist has been forced to go into hiding
out of fear of being arrested by the Palestinian Authority security forces for
covering a sit-in strike.
Over the weekend, the PA’s Preventive Security
Force in the West Bank arrested her two brothers in an attempt to put pressure
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The journalist, Majdoleen Hassouneh, has twice
refused to report for interrogation at the headquarters of the Preventive
Security Force in Nablus.
Hassouneh’s friends and colleagues have
launched a Facebook campaign in solidarity with her and in protest against the
PA government’s measures against Palestinian journalists and freedom of the
Hassouneh, a graduate of An-Najah University in Nablus, is the
recipient of the best investigative reporter award from the Thomas Foundation
for an investigation into the medical field in the Palestinian
Last week, she received a phone call from a Preventive
Security Force officer who demanded that she report immediately at the
headquarters of the apparatus in Nablus.
When she failed to show up, the
Preventive Security Force sent her a written summons asking her to report for
questioning on Saturday morning.
The letter warned that she would be
arrested if she failed to show up.
Hassouneh, who lives in Beit Umrin,
near Nablus, announced that she would not go to the security headquarters and
described the invitation as an attempt to restrict her freedom of
She said that the Preventive Security Force was trying to
force her to sign a document that would limit her freedom of expression as a
A number of Palestinian journalists said they have
already been asked by PA security forces in the West Bank to sign similar
documents where they pledge to cover certain events.
On Saturday night,
PA security officers raided Hassouneh’s family home in an attempt to arrest her,
but she was not there.
The officers detained her two brothers and told
the family that she must report for questioning immediately.
the detention of her brothers, Hassouneh reiterated her refusal to report for
questioning or to sign any pledge to refrain from covering issues that could
reflect negatively on the PA.
“They arrested my two brothers because I
wasn’t at home,” she said. “I’m not going to report for
Hassouneh appealed to human-rights organizations to
intervene with the PA government in the West Bank to prevent her detention and
other measures against Palestinian journalists.
expressed outrage over the targeting of Hassouneh. They too appealed to the
international community to pressure the PA leadership to stop targeting
Awad Abu Dakka, deputy chairman of the
Palestinian Media Association, strongly condemned the move against the female
journalist and the continued harassment of other Palestinian reporters and
Abu Dakka denounced the measures against Palestinian journalists
as “illegal” and appealed to international human-rights groups and media outlets
to expose the violations of the Palestinian media’s rights.
journalists in Nablus told The Jerusalem Post that Hassouneh was wanted by the
PA security forces for covering a sitin strike organized by families of
Palestinians held in Palestinian jails in the West Bank.
Hassouneh asked: “If a journalist is not allowed to cover an event that happens
in front of her in her city, why did the Palestinian Authority allow the protest
of the families to take place outside Jneid Prison? Why is a journalist being
summoned to the security forces when these forces didn’t prevent the sit-in
strike?” Hassouneh’s friends and colleagues hailed her decision to challenge the
muchfeared Preventive Security Force as a “brave” move, but expressed concern
over her safety.
One journalist pointed out that he and his colleagues
have come under heavy pressure from the PA security forces in the West Bank to
refrain from reporting about stories that could embarrass the PA
Last year, two journalists from Bethlehem were arrested by PA
security agencies – one for reporting about the dispute between PA President
Mahmoud Abbas and Fatah strongman Muhammad Dahlan, and the second for allegedly
ridiculing the PA president on his Facebook page.