Ramallah - Palestinian prisoner institutions (The Ministry of Detainees and Ex-Detainees Affairs, The Palestinian Prisoners' Club Association, and Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association) stated that the occupation has committed horrific crimes against Palestinian journalists in light of the ongoing genocide in Gaza and the comprehensive aggression against our people throughout Palestine. This phase has been the deadliest for journalists compared to previous periods witnessing Palestinian uprisings and popular movements. According to data from the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate, the Israeli occupation's targeting of journalists has led to the martyrdom of (135) Palestinian journalists.

The institutions added in a statement on the occasion of the World Press Freedom Day, which falls on the third of May each year, "Targeting Palestinian journalists has constituted and still constitutes one of the most prominent policies pursued by the occupation throughout its history. This is in addition to the assassination operations it has undertaken, which have escalated unprecedentedly. Since the beginning of the genocide, targeting journalists has been a pivotal moment in the history of Palestinian journalism, especially in Gaza. The occupation did not suffice with targeting them during their journalistic work but systematically targeted their families as well. Many journalists and their families were martyred during the genocide as part of revenge operations against them. The occupation turned their families into targets and tools to threaten and retaliate against them, in a continuous attempt to silence their voices and assassinate the truth and details of the genocide in Gaza.

Arrest operations have constituted one of the most systematic policies utilized by the Israeli occupation system against Palestinian journalists over decades. The Israeli occupation continues to detain (53) journalists in its prisons and camps, including (43) who were detained after the seventh of October 2023. They are part of a total of (70) journalists who have been subjected to arrest operations after this date, specifically in the West Bank, including Jerusalem. This is in addition to the ongoing threats, field assaults, detention, and continuous pursuit during their field journalistic coverage.

The institutions pointed out that four journalists from Gaza are still subject to enforced disappearance, and the occupation refuses to disclose their fate or provide any clarification regarding them. Two of them were arrested at the beginning of the aggression, they are: Nidal Al Wahidi and Haitham Abdul Wahid. In addition to two journalists who were arrested from Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza during the extensive aggression against the hospital, they are: Mahmoud Ziyad Alawwa and Mohammed Saber Arab.

The institutions also highlighted that among the detained journalists are four female journalists, including a nursing mother. They are: Ikhlas Sawalha, Rula Hasanein, Bushra Al Taweel, and Asmaa Hreish. Additionally, journalist Sumaya Jawabreh remains under house arrest under strict conditions imposed on her. It is worth noting that Sawalha, Al Taweel, and Hreish are subject to administrative detention.

The occupation authorities utilized the policy of administrative detention under the pretext of having a "secret file," which has affected thousands of citizens after the seventh of October. They used it as a tool to impose further control and surveillance over journalistic work, attempting to deprive journalists of their right to freedom of opinion, expression, and the practice of their profession. The number of journalists targeted by the occupation with administrative detention after the seventh of October reached (23) journalists, one of whom was released yesterday.

In addition to the crime of administrative detention, the occupation also used arrest on the pretext of so-called "incitement" through the media outlets they worked in and social media platforms. These platforms, which were once tools for freedom of opinion and expression, have turned into instruments for targeting journalists and Palestinians in general. The indictment lists presented against journalists for "incitement" illustrate the occupation's insistence on pursuing journalists based on their journalistic work without any legal justification for these arrests. The occupation deliberately crafted vague provisions in these indictments, alleging "incitement" and "sympathizing," without clear parameters, enabling them to use them as a weapon against journalists in particular and Palestinians in general, and incarcerate them.

Since the seventh of October, some of the indictment sheets have started with a preamble explaining what happened on the seventh of October, when the occupation declared a state of war, as if to justify the wide-scale arrest campaigns that escalated unprecedentedly after that date. It is worth noting that these preambles, which are included, demonstrate the illegality of the arrests, and the arrests are based on the current political situation, indicating a policy of collective punishment and the execution of wide-scale arrest operations regardless of the nature of their work or their ages.

The detained journalists in the occupation's prisons and camps face all retaliatory and punitive measures imposed on prisoners and detainees in general, in addition to torture and humiliation, the policy of starvation, and systematic medical crimes. This is apart from the continuous policies of deprivation and deprivation against them and their detention in harsh and humiliating conditions.

The case of the administrative detainee journalist Muath Amarnah from Bethlehem stands out, where Amarnah suffers from a previous injury by Israeli army gunfire sustained in 2019 while performing his journalistic work. This injury resulted in the loss of his left eye and the bullet lodged in his brain. Additionally, he suffers from other health problems, including diabetes, and requires urgent medical follow-up. Since his arrest on October 16, 2023, Amarnah has been subjected to systematic harassment and deprived of his basic rights, specifically his right to treatment and medical care. He currently suffers from oppressive and tragic detention conditions. It is worth noting that the occupation renewed his administrative detention for the second time for a period of four months in March 2023.

The institutions also highlighted the case of journalist Tareq Al-Sharif, who was arrested on charges of so-called "incitement." Al-Sharif was arrested on November 19, 2023, after the Israeli army raided his home in Al-Bireh city. Throughout his detention in one of the camps near Ramallah, he remained tied and blindfolded, deprived of using the bathroom and drinking water, and subjected to physical assault. Al-Sharif faced interrogation sessions regarding his journalistic work, specifically regarding an episode of his morning program aired on Rayya FM radio on October 8, 2024, as well as other radio episodes from 2021 to 2023. During his detention and after being presented to court, Al-Sharif underwent interrogation by the Israeli intelligence agency (Shabak) regarding his Facebook posts. The occupation authorities charged journalist Al-Sharif with incitement based on these allegations.

The occupation continues to detain four female journalists, including journalist Rula Hasanein, who was arrested from her home in Bethlehem on March 19, 2024. She is a nursing mother to a daughter who was nine months old when her mother was arrested. Her daughter's health deteriorated after her mother's arrest. The occupation authorities charged journalist Hasanein with incitement and held several trial sessions for her. Although the occupation court issued a decision to release her on bail, the Israeli prosecution appealed the decision. A hearing was held to consider the appeal in April of last year, and until today, no decision has been issued by the court. The occupation holds journalist Hasanein in Damon Prison alongside dozens of female prisoners in harsh, isolating, and tragic conditions.

Prisoner institutions renew their demands for the immediate release of the journalists detained in Israeli occupation prisons and for revealing the fate of the Gaza journalist who is subjected to enforced disappearance. They also call upon the United Nations and all international institutions to fulfill their responsibilities regarding the crimes committed by the occupation against prisoners and detainees. Mere publication of reports, testimonials, and warnings is not enough. After nearly seven months of genocide and its continuation, all of this has lost its meaning, with the occupation being blatantly supported by certain international forces while the humanitarian community and the voices of freedom advocate for the Palestinian right to determine their own destiny.