Palestinian Journalists Detained on Incitement Charges for Covering West Bank Demonstrations

by Vins
Published: Last Updated on

Since 2020, 26 Palestinian journalists based in the West Bank have been imprisoned for attempting to cover Palestinian resistance to Israeli occupation. According to an April 2022 report from The Intercept, Palestinian journalists who use their platforms to post footage or comment on Israel’s use of force are quickly placed in administrative detention for months at a time and experience harsh interrogations without ever being charged. Often after serving months of jail time, detainees are forced into entering guilty plea deals offered by Israeli military prosecution in order to be released.

Because Israeli authorities do not distinguish between journalists and active participants in a conflict, many journalists are arrested for simply attending the demonstrations. Social media posts are often presented as evidence of incitement, including videos, pictures, and text reports of unfolding events that journalists post on social media. These news reports are then pulled from their social media as their accounts are scrubbed for weeks, only to be used against them in court with the justification of incitement due to their messages being broadcast to a public audience.

Hazem Nasser, a 31-year-old resident of the West Bank, was detained and interrogated on May 10, 2021, for incitement. The morning of, Nasser filmed a clash between Palestinians and Israelis that occurred within the West Bank territory. He was confronted by Israeli soldiers on his way back home and detained at the Huwara checkpoint. The Israeli detention center kept him circulating through interrogations on the incident for a month. The evidence of incitement presented in court prioritized Facebook posts rather than his journalistic work, as Abraham notes “the indictment listed four old Facebook posts that he wrote between 2018 and 2020, a period in which he published more than 1,000 posts.”

Among many allegations against Nasser, the documents used to charge him with incitement specifically referenced his posts applauding the assassination of the Israeli Tourism Minister Rehavam Ze’evi and hailing a Palestinian militant, responsible for murdering two Israelis, as a hero. Nasser accepted the plea deal, hoping to drastically shorten his time in prison. Nasser later discovered he’d have to spend an additional five months in prison upon accepting the plea bargain without any further evidence of incitement.

Corporate media has almost completely ignored the unjust detention of Palestinian journalists. Over the last year, mainstream media prioritized covering the detention of well-known Palestinian activists such as Muna and Mohammad el-Kurd, who gained notoriety among Western media outlets after publicly speaking out against Israel’s attempt to evict Palestinians from Sheikh Jarrah during Spring 2021. While focusing on Muna el-Kurd’s detention, the BBC briefly mentioned the detention of Al Jazeera journalist Givara Budeiri. Additionally, the Los Angeles Times commented on Budeiri’s arrest only after mentioning Muna el-Kurd’s detention.

Source: Yuval Abraham, “Israel Charges Palestinian Journalists with Incitement,” The Intercept, April 5, 2022.

Student Researcher: Cem Ismail Addemir (Illinois State University)

Faculty Evaluator: Steve Macek (North Central College)