Israeli military authorities, which govern the Palestinians in the West Bank under martial law, released Palestinian journalist Mujahed al-Saadi Friday after he was imprisoned for seven months without charges.
Al-Saadi was held in so-called ‘administrative detention’, a euphemism used by Israeli authorities used when they hold Palestinians for extended periods with no charges against them. He had been abducted by Israeli occupation forces on June 24th, 2020 from his home in Jenin, in the northern part of the West Bank.
Al-Saadi is a freelance journalist who contributes to a number of different local and international news outlets, including Palestine Today.
Israeli authorities never informed him of the reason for his abduction, nor did they afford him access to a lawyer. On June 28, 2020, the Palestinian Red Crescent society informed Al-Saadi’s family that he had been taken to an Israeli military base near Nablus, and was then moved to the Russian Compound in Jerusalem for questioning.
His case was reported by MADA, The Palestinian Center for Development & Media Freedom, which noted that the the Israeli occupation has a long history of targeting journalists, intentionally detaining Palestinian journalists, and delaying their court hearings in an attempt to stop their footage and reporting from being released.
Al-Saadi had previously been targeted for his journalistic work. In 2016, he was sentenced to seven months in jail and a fine of 5,000 NIS (US$1,400), according to Palestine Today TV.
In response to his release Friday, the Palestinian Committee for Supporting Journalist called for the release of 25 Palestinian journalists who are still in Israeli jails.
The committee said in its statement that it “views with extreme seriousness the attempts to restrict freedom of media work through repeated campaigns of arrests by the Israeli occupation against journalists, their prosecution and violation of the freedom of their professional work.”
The committee also affirmed the right of journalists to work freely and convey their reports about the situation in the Palestinian territories without intimidation, blackmail and confiscation of freedoms, and without being prevented by Israeli authorities from carrying out their journalistic duties.
The committee’s statement called on humanitarian and human rights institutions to intervene to pressure Israel to release all journalists, and called on the UN Security Council to implement Resolution 2222 on providing protection for journalists, and to hold Israel accountable for its violations against Palestinian media professionals.
The Israeli occupation authorities are currently holding in prison about 4,400 Palestinian prisoners. They include 40 women, 170 children, and about 380 administrative detainees (those held without charge), according to official Palestinian data.