Israeli army occupies Jordanian radio and television offices in Ramallah

The Israeli army has raided the Jordanian radio and television offices in Ramallah and arrested two Moroccan journalists in the city in the past few days.

“After targeting Palestinian journalists, the Israeli army is now preventing Arab journalists from doing their work,” RSF Secretary-General Robert Ménard said on 10 July 2002. “Four months after Operation ‘Rampart’, attacks on press freedom in the Palestinian territories are continuing unabated,” he added.

The raiding of the Jordanian offices was the 15th time in four months that Israeli troops have occupied a media office. Five Palestinian journalists are still being detained.

Jordanian Television (JTV) correspondent Abdallah al-Hoot said the soldiers entered the premises on 8 July, “in a provocative way, and did not treat us in a humanitarian manner. They threatened us with guns and searched our offices.” The soldiers seized film, passports and press cards from the two journalists present, al-Hoot and Akil al-Amr. The Israeli authorities returned their documents five hours later, after the Jordanian representative in Gaza, Jomaa al-Abbadi, intervened.

This was the second recent incident involving Jordanian journalists working in the Palestinian territories. On 3 June, Mashur Abu Eid, of the Jordanian news agency Petra, was deported from Israel, four days after his arrest in Nablus while covering a protest by Western peace activists.

Despite Palestinian journalist Maher el-Dessuki’s release on 27 June, five others are still being held in Israel. They include Khalid Ali Zwawi, of the Ramallah-based Al-Quds Educational TV, Kamal Ali Jbeil, of the daily “Al-Quds”, Hussam Abu Alan, a photographer for Agence France-Presse (AFP), Yusri el-Jamal, a Reuters sound man, and Ayman el-Kawasmi, head of local radio station El Horriya. All were arrested between 15 and 30 April and placed in preventive detention for three months. Jbeil’s detention, which was due to end on 1 July, has been extended for three months. On 28 June, an Israeli military court stated that Yusri el-Jamal could go free on 10 July.

Two Moroccan journalists, Anas Bensalah and Hassan Bouchenni, from Morocco’s second public TV station, 2M, were arrested by two Israeli soldiers in Ramallah on 4 July as they were leaving Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat’s headquarters (see IFEX alert of 5 July 2002). The soldiers asked them for identification and their passports and took them to the Palestinian Culture and Arts Ministry offices, which have been turned into a detention centre. They questioned them about the situation inside Arafat’s headquarters, what he had said during their interview, and his physical and mental condition. The journalists were released five hours later without explanation. The Moroccan Press Union had called on the Israelis to free them without delay.

More Information

For further information, contact Virginie Locussol at RSF, rue Geoffroy Marie, Paris 75009, France, tel: +33 1 44 83 84 84, fax: +33 1 45 23 11 51, e-mail:, Internet: