PA to try local journalist for criticizing medical services

Palestinian journalist George Canawati, director of the local Bethlehem Radio 2000, accused of “slander and defamation.”

Bethlehem 521 (photo credit: Israel images)
Bethlehem 521
(photo credit: Israel images)
A Palestinian journalist from Bethlehem will go on trial before a Palestinian Authority court for criticizing medical services in his city.
George Canawati, director of the local Bethlehem Radio 2000, was released on bail on Tuesday pending his trial. He belongs to one of Bethlehem’s large Christian families.
The decision to charge Canawati came after the PA governor of Bethlehem, Abdel Fattah Hamayel, filed a complaint against him for “slander and defamation.”
The trial will begin on October in Bethlehem, according to Bethlehem-based journalist Najib Farraj.
Farraj said that the PA Prosecutor- General’s Office summoned Canawati for questioning on Tuesday morning about his report regarding the medical services.
He was specifically asked about his criticism of a medical clinic belonging to the PA Ministry of Health in Bethlehem.
Canawati had accused the local clinic of negligence and making patients wait in line for too long. He also pointed out that when he and his wife visited the clinic, they noticed Israeli-made juice on one of the tables – in violation of the PA’s call for boycotting Israeli products.
The head of the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate in the West Bank criticized the decision to detain and prosecute Canawati because of his work as a journalist, and accused the PA of crossing a red line.
Late last year, the PA’s General Intelligence Force in the West Bank detained Canawati for five days after he reported on tensions between PA President Mahmoud Abbas and Fatah strongman Mohammed Dahlan.
Canawati is the second Palestinian journalist to be targeted by PA security forces in recent weeks.
Majdoleen Hassouneh, a female photojournalist from Nablus, was forced to go into hiding in late July after receiving a summons from the PA Preventative Security Force. She was asked to report for interrogation because she reported about a sit-in strike by families of Palestinians held in PA jails.
When she refused to report for interrogation, the PA security forces arrested her two brothers in an attempt to force her to hand herself in.