GENEVA- The Geneva Council for Rights and Liberties ( GCRL) strongly condemns the assault and arrest of Al Jazeera Arabic journalist Givara Budeiri, while covering a demonstration in the occupied East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah.
The Israeli forces detained, on Saturday, June 5, 2021, journalist Givara Budeiri, pushed her violently, and beat her while covering a sit-in in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood of East Jerusalem on the 54th anniversary of what is known as the “Al-Nakba” meaning setback, the day Israel occupied East Jerusalem, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, Golan and Sinai. The Israeli forces also beat Al-Jazeera cameraman Nabil Mazawi, who was accompanied by Budeiri.
A video of the incident showed two female soldiers from the Israeli Border Police detaining Budeiri, then violently driving her and locking her between two cars. Other soldiers intervened, assaulted her colleague, Mazawi, who had his camera, and tried to prevent the rest of the journalists from doing their work.
Walid Al-Omari, Al Jazeera’s Jerusalem bureau chief, stated that Givara was detained in an Israeli police station on Salah El-Din Street in Jerusalem after she was arrested and beaten in Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood and the camera that was with the photographer was destroyed. Al-Omari added that the police asked the reporter for her identity card and that she told them that it was in the car and tried to go to get it, but they did not allow her to go and quickly handcuffed and took her to the police car.
The Israeli authorities released Budeiri hours after her arrest in occupied Jerusalem and decided to deport her for 15 days from the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood. Al Jazeera correspondent recounts the moment of her arrest while covering a demonstration in the occupied East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah, with her colleague, cameraman Nabil Mazzawi when the Israeli police brutally attacked her.
Budeiri said that Israeli occupation forces asked her for her press card, so she asked them to give her 3 minutes to get it out of the car, but they didn’t give her a chance and started to kick her before they brutally took her handcuffed to the police car.
She added that the police accused her of assaulting an Israeli female soldier – an accusation she completely denied. When they arrested her, Budeiri was shouting “Get away from me, I’m a journalist.” She confirmed that they knew her identity, but they claimed the opposite, noting that what happened was a direct targeting of Al Jazeera and all journalists. Budeiri said she was subjected to a more severe attack by two members of the occupation forces inside the police car and was treated like a criminal when she was taken to the police station in Jerusalem.
Budeiri’s arrest is the culmination of the escalation of the policy of targeting Palestinian and Arab journalists, especially in East Jerusalem, since the beginning of the month of Ramadan, during which this period witnessed the arrest and injury of at least 20 journalists. It also comes after a series of attacks against journalists during the aggression on Gaza, which led to the destruction of about 33 headquarters of media institutions, in addition to the killing of a journalist and the injury of at least 5 others.
The most recent of these attacks in the past few days was the arrest of the Jerusalemite journalists, Wahbi Makiya and Zina Halawani, on May 28, during their coverage of the events of Sheikh Jarrah, where the Israeli forces beat them before releasing them later on bail of 600 dollars each and ordered them to be under house arrest for a month, forbidding them from communicating with each other for 15 days. The attack on them led to bleeding in the head of journalist Makiya and other injuries to him and his colleague Al-Halwani, and broke their camera.
GCRL condemns this attack, calls on Israel to immediately release the journalist Budeiri and other detained journalists, and to end all illegal punitive measures against them.
The Council urges the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression to intervene immediately to stop the attacks of the occupation forces against Palestinian journalists and press institutions.
It also calls on the international bodies concerned with freedom of opinion and expression and press freedom to take serious action to stop the Israeli targeting of journalists in the occupied Palestinian territories, given that Israeli violations against journalists and their institutions violate a set of well-established rights in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, as well as in the protection granted by the Fourth Geneva Convention to journalists as civilians and their civilian objects.