Press freedom NGO says Mustafa Al-Kharouf should be released from prison and threats to drop the stateless Palestinian to Jordan, in which he has no legal right to reside, should be dropped.

A leading press freedom NGO has demanded that Israel drop its threat to deport a stateless Palestinian journalist and release him from prison immediately.

Palestinian photographer Mustafa Al-Kharouf has languished in an Israeli jail since January 22 after being accused of residing in Jerusalem without proper authorisation.

Israeli authorities plan on expelling the Anadolu Agency photographer to Jordan, a country in which he has no legal right to reside.

“We call for nothing less than Mustafa Al-Kharouf’s release and the complete withdrawal of deportation proceedings against him,” Reporters Without Borders’ (RSF) Middle East desk said. 

“The Israeli justice system must stop blocking recognition of his status as a resident and must not treat his photography as a sign of bias in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

Kharouf was born in Algeria to a Palestinian father from Jerusalem and an Algerian mother.

According to Israeli outlet Haaretz, when his family moved back to Jerusalem, he was given an Israeli visa “on humanitarian grounds”, but was not granted full residency, eventually losing his entitlement to live in the city.

In 2015, Israeli officials said that Kharouf’s “humanitarian” visa could be rejected because he had attended riots, a charge he dismissed, saying that he could not avoid being present at protests due to his work as a photojournalist.

The subsequent years of legal wrangling concluded with his arrest in January.

Kharouf, 32, has a Palestinian wife and a child who reside in Jerusalem. Israeli authorities nevertheless ruled that he should be deported by May 6.

That scheduled deportation was postponed pending an appeal by his lawyer.

RSF says that journalists reporting on Palestinian issues face a number of difficulties thanks to Israeli authorities.

Journalists are subject to orders banning them from discussing certain issues, including by the military.

The Israeli military has also targeted Palestinian journalists working in the occupied territories.

In 2018, Israeli soldiers killed two journalists, Yaser Murtaja and Ahmed Abu Hussein, while they were covering the “right-of-return” protests in Gaza. At least 129 journalists were also wounded by Israeli troops.

The Journalist Support Committee said that 638 violations were committed against journalists, including 49 raids against media offices.

Source: TRT World