Israel imprisons Palestinian cartoonist Mohammad Saba’aneh without charge, sparks international demands for his release

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Freedom of Expression by Mohammad Saba’aneh

The arbitrary arrest of Palestinian political cartoonist Mohammad Saba’aneh has set off sparks from all corners of the international community. Saba’aneh was detained without charge by the Israeli military on Saturday Feb. 16 at the Allenby Bridge checkpoint between the occupied West Bank and Jordan. An Israeli military court extended his detention Wednesday for nine days under the pretext of completing an investigation. He has been denied access to a lawyer.

Mohammad Saba’aneh (photo:al-Hayat al-Jadida)

Saba’aneh, a popular editorial cartoonist for al-Hayat al-Jadida, the Palestinian daily newspaper, is also head of public relations at the Arab American University in Jenin.

According to al-Hayat al-Jadida, Saba’aneh is being investigated for providing services to unspecified “hostile organizations,”without disclosing the nature of the services, or the identity of the organizations.

In other words, Israel has just captured another young, talented, charismatic, popular, Palestinian artist with no explanation:

Mohammad Saba’aneh (al-Hayat al-Jadida)

The international response to Saba’aneh’s detainment has been swift.

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Dreaming of Freedom by Mohammad Saba’aneh

The Cartoon Movement, a global cartoonist collective, Cartoonists Rights Network International, and Reporters Without Borders have all sounded the alarm. The Committee to Protect Journalists, a New York-based nonprofit organization that works to safeguard press freedom worldwide, called on authorities to immediately release Saba’aneh and allow him access to his lawyer.

Below is a 2010 photo of Mohammed in front of the White house. He attended the annual convention of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists (AAEC), part of International Visitor Leadership Program sponsored by the U.S. State Department:

Mohammad Saba’aneh visiting Washington, DC in 2010 at invitation of U.S. State Department (Photo: Cartoonists Rights International)

Cartoonist Rights Network International:

Thaer Saba’aneh, a specialist in prisoners’ affairs and brother of the detainee, stated the arrest came as a surprise as Mohammad has never before been detained by the IDF.  Mohammad was on his way back home from a conference at the AAU.

The Cartoon Movement and the Cartoonists Rights Network International are working together to find out the reason behind the arrest and to support the cartoonist.  At the time of the writing of this alert, we are unable to ascertain the well-being of Mohammad.

Tjeerd Royaards the Editor-in-Chief of The Cartoon Movement drafted this alert which is being forwarded to human rights organizations and government officials.  On behalf of our two organizations, CRNI Executive Director Robert Russell has written the following to Michael Oren, the Israeli Ambassador to the United States:



Jerusalem by Mohammad Saba’aneh

Palestinian Journalist Syndicate:

[A]ttacks against journalists comes in the framework of a programmed policy adopted by the leadership of the occupation army designed to target journalists and news crews and the continued harassment of them to restrict their right of movement.

(Hat tip Mondoweiss Commenter Taxi)

17 Responses

  1. Michael Lesher
    December 17, 2015, 8:30 am

    As Annie says, if this outrage helps to draw international attention to the larger outrage of Israel’s systematic detention of Palestinians for all sorts of non-reasons, so much the better.

  2. diasp0ra
    December 17, 2015, 8:51 am

    Wow, I’m no reader of Al Hayat al Jadeedah but these images are very beautiful.

    I hope he is released soon, and I hope more people make a stink about this. Yes, it’s true that he’s not the only one and it’s true that this happens every day with very few in the media caring, but let’s be pragmatic here, if his arrest draws some attention then it will de facto lead to attention to others kidnapped and imprisoned by Israel.

  3. oldgeezer
    December 17, 2015, 9:18 am

    The first cartoon was prescient of his own circumstances and oh so appropriate due to that.

    Israel seems to be heading for a train wreck at an ever increasing speed. Arrogance, blindness and desperation seems to be the only thing left.

    Where are all the right wing zionists who wanted to be

    • oldgeezer
      December 17, 2015, 10:51 am

      Oops missed part of the last bit.

      Where are all the right wing zionists who wanted to be hash tag je suis charlie

  4. Ossinev
    December 17, 2015, 12:00 pm

    Precisement mon vieux. If there is a solidarity march organised in Paris I can`t see Monsieur Nitay jetting in without an invite and barging his way to the front line.

    I think MDM is right that he will be quietly released,the Israeli Hasbara machine will somehow invent an Israeli application of justice in action scenario. They won`t hope that it will all blow over because they are well passed the stage of giving a shit about anyone or anything outside of their bubble.

    Still you can piss off journalists , you can piss off writers,you can piss off academics but beware pissing off cartoonists – they have nasty stings in abundance.


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