Reporters Without Borders has condemned the arrest of Palestinian journalist Awad Rajoub on 30 November 2005 at his home in Doura, 10 km from the West Bank city of Hebron. The organisation called on the Israeli military to explain why he is still being held. Rajoub reports for the Arabic-language website of the pan-Arab satellite television station Al Jazeera.
“The Israeli army, which claims this has nothing to do with Rajoub’s work as a journalist, must say what it knows at once, otherwise there is no reason for holding him and he must be freed immediately,” the press freedom organisation said.
Israeli soldiers took Rajoub’s computer and mobile phone when they arrested him. An Israeli army spokesman told Al Jazeera the journalist was arrested for “reasons that have nothing to do with his work” and that the army was “interested in the information he has.”
Khaled Amayri, an Al Jazeera English-language website editor in charge of Jerusalem and Palestinian territory coverage, told Reporters Without Borders that Rajoub’s arrest was “fresh evidence of the Israeli army’s discriminatory policy towards Arab media in the occupied territories.”
He added: “Journalists are working in very difficult conditions in the occupied territories and are often arrested and then released without anyone knowing what they are accused of. What’s more, not only are we often stripped of our accreditation but we are also often told it is treason to work for Al Jazeera.”
Aged 29, Rajoub is also a correspondent for the Qatari newspaper “Al Sharq” and often contributes to the Islam-on-line website. He studied journalism in Qatar and joined the Al Jazeera group in 2001.