Told by reporter Assri Fayyad
Residence: Jenin Refugee camp
Profession: Reporter for Islamic newspaper and employee at the Jenin Newspaper office
Marital Status: Married and father to 4
On 10/3/89, at 7 in the morning, I was busy with the opening of the press office I currently work at. All of a sudden, an Israeli military patrol stopped and one soldier asked me for my ID. I gave it to him along with my press card. The soldiers told me that I was violating Israeli instructions on the curfew. I denied knowing that the city was under curfew since the dawn of that day. The soldiers took me to the Israeli court tents set in Jenin and then to al-Farigha military camp, and then to Ketsi’ot detention center in the Negev where I was informed that I was under six months administrative detention.
In 1990, I do not remember the exact date, I was walking in the streets of Jenin. With me, I had copies of a book written by Dr. Abdul Sattar Kassem, on the experience in Ketsi’ot military camp. An Israeli military patrol stopped and the soldiers starting beating me up and kicking me, even though I showed them my press card. They took me to the police station in Jenin and then to the military court headquarters. After inspecting the books, I was released.
Since 1996, the Israelis have been asking for me. The Palestinian security forces informed me that there is no freedom of movement for me in areas other than those belonging to the PNA in Jenin and its districts. This means that I cannot go to areas of 1948, and I cannot leave Jenin. I cannot move anywhere simply because I am holding a green ID card. I have had this card in the period between January 1990 and June 1991. As it is known to everyone, whoever owns an ID like man, is forbidden from entering 1948 areas or travel abroad. Also, the owner of such a card is subject to harassment and nuisances on military checkpoints while going from one West Bank town to another.
On 9/3/96, I was arrested by the Palestinian security forces, mainly the GI, following the suicide attacks which were conducted by Islamic militants on Israeli targets. I spent 11 days in Jneid prison in solitary confinement, and 37 days in a solitary confinement in Jericho prison. I was released 6 months later. I was interrogated on my relations with the Islamic Jihad, and accused of being a messenger receiving money from the Jihad and giving this money to the needy. I was also interrogated on my press work and my relation with al-Rissallah, al-Istiqlal, and other newspapers. At the time, I was a reporter for al-Istiqlal which is released in Gaza. I was covering incidents taking place north of the West Bank. GI members in Jericho warned me to get an official permit from the GI in order for me to continue working in the field of journalism. I do not exactly know what they want me to do. It seems that they only want to scare me for being a reporter that leans to the Jihad or other factions. Until today, I have no idea what they meant by their warning.
What happened with me proves that freedom of movement, expression and basic freedoms are not followed. They are rather corrupt and utterly violated. I continued my work, but in a different manner. I still report to al-Istiqlal and other newspapers, but under a borrowed name, especially in newspapers belonging to the opposition, and especially Islamic opposition. What is most important for me is to write and to report the truth as it is. I have every right to use a borrowed name in order to avoid trouble and to draw away any suspicion. Working or reporting for an Islamic newspaper or a newspaper belonging to an opposition, exposes me to interrogation by both the PNA and Israel. I have a family and children to worry about, and therefore I cannot risk exposing myself. I am obliged to continue working however, in order to support my family. I write freely on all issues, especially violations committed by Israelis and the PNA.
Reporters face a great deal of trouble from the security forces. This leads me to the personal relationships between a journalist and the security forces, whether this relationship is negative or positive.
There are ‘red lines’ that no one is supposed to cross. What I understand from these red lines is that they are elastic. Their understanding is mysterious. I do not understand what is forbidden and what is allowed anymore.
Every time I write or compose something, I start thinking whether I will be caught. I have one last thing to say that in the absence of a strong and solid union body for journalists, journalism and the life of journalists become difficult and full of worries.
Not for publishing