Amnesty International launched a petition for the release of Mustafa al-Kharouf, a Palestinian journalist for Turkey's Anadolu Agency (AA) who was jailed by Israel.
Al-Kharouf was arrested on Jan. 22 and faces the risk of deportation to Jordan. Israel's Interior Ministry ordered his deportation to Jordan after denying his request for a family reunification.
The 32-year-old journalist was born in Algeria to a Palestinian father and has lived in east Jerusalem since the age of 12, though he was given only a temporary residence permit to live in Jerusalem.
Amnesty's petition, addressed to Israeli Interior Minister Aryeh Makhlouf Deri, says: "Mustafa al-Kharouf has been reporting on human rights violations committed by Israeli forces. Amnesty International fears that Mustafa al-Kharouf's arbitrary detention and the decision to forcibly deport him are intended to stop him from carrying out his journalistic work. In any event, his deportation from east Jerusalem would violate the Fourth Geneva Convention, to which Israel has been a state party since 1951. We are extremely concerned that if Mustafa al-Kharouf is expelled to Jordan, where he has no legal status, he will remain stateless and be separated from his family.
As a Palestinian Jerusalemite, Mustafa al-Kharouf has a temporary Jordanian travel document that does not entitle him to Jordanian citizenship or residency rights, but at most to a short stay in Jordan. [We] urge you to immediately release Mustafa al-Kharouf from Givon prison, and, in line with Israel's obligations under the Fourth Geneva Convention, ensure that he can remain safely in his home by granting him permanent residency status in east Jerusalem."
AA had repeated the same concerns earlier. The agency's director, Şenol Kazancı, has said that they had "doubts that his deportation is mainly related to the Israeli government's discomfort of his journalistic activities." "We are deeply concerned about the well-being of our photojournalist Mr. Mustafa Kharouf, who is in custody in a violation of freedom of the press by Israeli authorities," Kazancı said earlier.
This is not the first time that AA staff have been targeted by Israel. The office of AA and a Turkish aid organization in Gaza were hit by Israel last weekend, as the military continued its indiscriminate attacks on civilians and residential buildings in the area, leaving a 14-month-old baby and a pregnant woman dead. Israeli warplanes hit the building with at least five rockets after warning shots. Following the airstrikes, the Palestinian government, foreign news agencies and many Turkish officials, including President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, condemned the attacks.
Israel's relations with Turkey have severely deteriorated in recent years as it stepped up its campaign against Palestinians and tightened its blockade of the Gaza Strip, to the chagrin of Turkey, an outspoken defender of the Palestinian cause.
Israel is also accused of arbitrarily detaining Turkish visitors in the country, keeping them at the airport for hours for "security" reasons before sending them back to Turkey.
The arrest of 27-year-old Ebru Özkan, one of 38 Turkish tourists visiting Jerusalem last June, sparked outrage and brought Israel's intimidation of Muslims back into the spotlight. Özkan was arrested on charges of helping "terrorists," a blanket term used by Israel to describe groups opposing Israel's blockade of Palestinian territories, by bringing five bottles of perfume from Turkey to Israel and handing them to an unidentified Palestinian. She was also charged for giving a cellphone charger to another person. She was released days later after multiple trials before an Israeli court.
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