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Affidavit No. 7260/2012

Sworn Statement

After having been warned to tell the truth and nothing but the truth or else I shall be subjected to penal action, I, the undersigned, Rasha Omar Fayez al-Alami Barakat, of Palestinian nationality, holder of ID No. 312303084, born on 29 March 1983, Administrative Officer at Huna al-Quds Network – Jerusalem Office, and a resident of the Beit Hanina town, Jerusalem governorate, would like to declare the following:

The Huna al-Quds [“Jerusalem is Here”] Community Media Network reports financially and administratively to the al-Quds University. It is managed by the Ramallah-based Institute of Modern Media. The Network includes three sessions: (1) Huna al-Quds News Agency presents daily news,  delivers a community media mission about the target community via internet media, and operates several departments. (2) Huna al-Quds Radio is an independent Palestinian community radio station that targets the Palestinian communities in Jerusalem and Ramallah via the internet, providing a platform to express their daily issues and preserve Jerusalemites’ Palestinian identity and presence in Jerusalem. (3) al-Quds Educational Television is a Palestinian local TV channel that broadcasts from the city of Ramallah. It provides the Huna al-Quds Network with visual reports.

On Monday, 2 April 2012, at 1:00 pm an official inauguration ceremony of the Huna al-Quds Community Media Network Centre of the al-Quds University was scheduled to take place at the Network centre in the Aqbat al-Khalidiya area in the Old City of Jerusalem, occupied in 1967. It was planned that the Huna al-Quds Network centre in Jerusalem was to be connected to the Institute of Modern Media of the al-Quds University in Ramallah through Skype. This technology needs simple devices, including an internet connection and projector, which are available in every house. Due to restrictions posed by the Israeli occupying authorities, our colleagues in Ramallah held West Bank-issued ID cards and could not access Jerusalem. Having lasted for a whole week, preparations included setting up of the new office, design of invitation cards, and arrangements to receive guests.

At around 12:57 pm on Monday, 2 April 2012, three minutes ahead of the inauguration ceremony and reception of guests, almost 40 persons were present. The audience included staff members of the al-Quds University, media students, and student volunteers. A number of guests were inside the Network office registering their personal information on the attendance list of participants, while others were waiting to enter and register. In the meantime, a police force of the Israeli occupying power raided offices of the Huna al-Quds Network. The force was comprised of approximately 20 officers, who were in civilian clothes. The raid was carried out in an offensive manner; police officers stormed through the audience. Police officers pushed some guests, who stood at the door, and entered the Network office. More than 10 Israeli Border Guard officers, who were in the army green uniform, stood in a line at the door. It should be noted that I saw police officers in the civilian clothes carrying weapons. At first sight, however, I did not realise that they had been police officers as they stormed into the Network centre. From the start, they did not identify themselves. Muhannad Izhiman, the guard at the Huna al-Quds Network office, asked the police officers who they were. Muhannad is in the thirties of age.

“Police,” an officer answered and attacked the guard.

“How could you stop me while I am a police officer?” A police officer in civil uniform questioned Muhannad.

“I did not know you were a police officer.” Muhannad replied.

The police officer seized Muhannad’s ID card and ordered him to step aside. Then, police officers in the civilian clothes dispersed inside the office. At the time, almost 20 guests were inside, including the computer engineer and photographer. As an organiser of the ceremony, I was also inside the office. When they stormed into the office, a police officer ordered the cameraman to stop taking footage of the inauguration ceremony. By the manner they treated Muhannad, I realised that those who raided the office were Israeli police officers. However, I did not know what they wanted because they had not produced any notice. A police officer took the attendance list, which included names of participants, who took part in the inauguration ceremony, as well as their telephone numbers and emails. Police officers in the civilian clothes also viewed files, including brochures that introduced the Huna al-Quds Network and Institute of Modern Media. Later, police officers seized ID cards of all persons inside the office, wrote down their names, and insisted to take their telephone numbers. They also searched the office and prevented us taking footage inside the office or using our mobile telephones. A police officer stood next to the landline telephone so that no one could use it. I was supposed to deliver the opening speech and facilitate the inauguration ceremony. I had put the speech on the platform. It said that the ceremony would be organised under auspices of the Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. The Governor of Jerusalem would deliver the speech on behalf of the Prime Minister. A police officer seized the speech when he saw it. I told him it was a personal paper.

“No, here are things written about the [Palestinian] Authority.” He said.

At that time, Mr. Adel Rweished, Administrative Director of the al-Quds University, was around. Based on their request, Mr. Rweished accompanied the police officers and tried to explain that the office and inauguration ceremony were managed by the al-Quds University and that the Palestinian Authority had nothing to do with it. About 20 minutes later, a police officer told the audience to take their personal belongings and leave. Then, the police still seized our ID cards, but we took our personal possessions and left the office. At the door, police officers in the civilian clothes returned our ID cards after they had recorded our personal information. We took them and went out of the office. On the office door, police officers posted an order in Hebrew and Arabic, stating that the ceremony would be cancelled, allegedly because the Palestinian Authority was involved and the ceremony was organised under its auspices. The order was signed by the Israeli Minister of Internal Security Yitzhak Aharonovitch. According to the order, the Network office would be closed down because wired and wireless telecommunications would take place between Jerusalem and the West Bank. As I explained earlier, these telecommunications were designed to connect the Huna al-Quds Network in Jerusalem to the Institute of Modern Media in Ramallah. It should be noted that we did not see the notice, nor did we know the reason of the closure except 20 minutes after the Israeli occupying forces had raided the office. Then, Police officers closed the Huna al-Quds office door, with the key.

“The office should not be open today.” Police officers told me as they returned the key.

The notice which the police officers posted on the door stated that the inauguration ceremony would be cancelled. It did not provide for closure of the office. Later, police officers arrested Adel Rweished and Muhannad Izhiman and took them for interrogation. Muhannad was released about an hour later. Adel was subjected to an extended interrogation session, which lasted for nine hours. Having consulted Advocate Muhammad Dahla, the University’s lawyer, we inaugurated the Huna al-Quds Network office on the next day.

 

This is my declaration, which I hereby sign, 11 April 2012

Affidavit Details

  • Affidavit Number: Affidavit No. 7260/2012
  • Field researcher: Omarn Resheq
  • Affidavit Date: 11 April 2012
  • Name: Rasha Omar Fayez al-Alami Barakat
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