Al Jazeera Arabic journalist Givara Budeiri left hospital on Sunday after receiving treatment for injuries sustained during her arrest by Israeli forces the day before.
Budeiri’s left hand was fractured when she was arrested while covering a demonstration in the occupied East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah on Saturday.
Israeli police also destroyed equipment belonging to Al Jazeera cameraman Nabil Mazzawi. Her arrest drew sharp condemnation from press freedom advocates and media watchdogs.
The Doha-based media network’s Jerusalem correspondent was accused of assaulting a female police officer, and not presenting her credentials, claims both she and Al Jazeera strongly deny. The Israeli allegations were also contradicted by footage shot of Budeiri’s arrest.
“I’m trying to be OK, but they broke my hand and I spent all the night in the hospital,” Budeiri told Al Jazeera.
She said had bruising on several other areas of her body, a headache, and pain in her back and her leg that makes it hard to walk.
Budeiri has worked as a journalist for Al Jazeera since 2000. She was wearing a flak jacket marked “press” when she was arrested and holds an Israeli Government Press Office (GPO) card.
Budeiri was reporting on a sit-in marking the 54th anniversary of the Naksa, or “setback”, when Israel occupied the Palestinian territories of East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip in 1967, a move not recognised by the international community.
Sheikh Jarrah has also been the focus of protests for weeks in support of Palestinian families in the neighbourhood who are facing the threat of forced expulsion to make way for Jewish settlers.
Budeiri said she was “treated as a criminal” when she was taken to the police station and during several hours in custody was prevented from removing her heavy flak jacket or closing her eyes when she felt tired.
“We will make you shut up … if we make Al Jazeera be silent, everyone will shut up,” Budeiri quoted an Israeli police officer as saying while she was in custody.
Like many others, she said she was merely “covering the reality on the ground” and that journalists are “telling the whole world what’s going on here”.
“The microphone and camera will stay … nothing will stop us,” she added.
Israel ‘losing the media war’
Sabrina Bennoui, spokesperson for Reporters Without Borders (RSF), said the arrest was a “clear violation of press freedom”.
“There is a clear will from the Israeli authorities to prevent journalists from doing their job and from reporting on the ground,” she said.
Meanwhile, in the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah, a rally took place on Sunday afternoon in solidarity with Palestinian journalists who are being targeted by the Israeli authorities.
“The feeling here by some of the speakers is that Israel is deliberately targeting those journalists because they are showing the world the reality of what’s happening under occupation,” Al Jazeera’s Nida Ibrahim, reporting from Ramallah, said.
“They feel Israel has been losing the media war, because they feel that it’s been exposed – its measures, its violations – and that’s why they’re trying to target journalists to silence them.”
On May 15, an Israeli aid raid destroyed a tower in the Gaza Strip that housed media offices of Al Jazeera, the Associated Press and other outlets during an 11-day bombardment of the coastal enclave
At least 14 Palestinian journalists have been arrested and placed in administrative detention by Israeli forces in recent weeks, according to Reporters Without Borders.
Several Palestinian journalists with media cards have been banned from entering Sheikh Jarrah by Israeli police, who claim they require a GPO card.
On Sunday, Israeli police arrested activists Muna al-Kurd and Mohammed al-Kurd, twins who have been at the forefront of the campaign to stop the forced expulsions of Palestinian families from Sheikh Jarrah.
Mohammed al-Kurd, along with his sister, are behind a three-month-old #SaveSheikhJarrah social media campaign.