Trending Topics:

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

on 17 Comments
6a014e5f5d3c7c970c01676852bb7b970b 750wi
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.

aoYEn6LATZW1B XWC8d5wg
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)

Annie Robbins

Annie Robbins is Editor at Large for Mondoweiss, a human rights activist and a ceramic artist. She lives in the SF bay area. Follow her on Twitter @anniefofani

Other posts by .

Posted In:

17 Responses

  1. pipistro on February 22, 2013, 12:11 pm

    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.

    Insofar as actually the most powerful Zionist weapon is an unabashed PR-machine-gun, able to emit some thousands anti-Semitism bullets a day, one cannot be surprised. A cartoonist or a writer is really an existential threat for the Israeli apartheid regime.
    Moreover, as they can’t stop him simply by the crass violence they use to a presumable member of a Palestinian armed wing, Israel is obviously compelled to inflate its lies, by anchoring Saba’aneh’s activity to that of improbable “hostile organizations.”
    It seems just another predictable and disturbing move, in wake of the rampant awareness that will bring to the sinking of the Zionist strategy.
    The try is impudent.

    • annie on February 22, 2013, 12:30 pm

      it’s so infuriating pipistro, he’s such a raw talent and clearly, no indication he would be a person suspected of foul play (open the link to the letter to michael oren), you don’t get invited by the state department if you have ties to crime. i’m very suspicious he’s being used to apply pressure on palestinian society or authorities over the hunger strikers. this in particular:

      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.

      they have abducted the brother of a specialist in prisoners’ affairs. they abducted him the day after 1000 people protested outside ofer prison

      a protest that brought international attention from the EU, the UN, Physicians for Human Rights-Israel

      and Saba’aneh was creating cartoons about the hunger strikers. (i chose to highlight ones with no dialogue, but there are others, so many incredible cartoons i could not post them all).

      his abduction reminds me of soccer hero Mahmoud Sarsak, in that he’s successful, handsome, young. perhaps ahead of obama’s visit they want some bargaining/breakthru to stop the protests. i don’t know. but why him? why?

  2. Maximus Decimus Meridius on February 22, 2013, 12:27 pm

    Obviously, it’s great that there’s something of an international outcry over Sabaaneh’s kidnap. But there should be the same outcry when ANY Palestinian – not just those who once got invited to Washington – is kidnapped and detained by the occupation forces.

    • annie on February 22, 2013, 12:37 pm

      not just those who once got invited to Washington

      of course, but the reason he got invited to washington is because he’s a young talent/star in his field (that is very clear from his art). targeting talent is different than targeting people with connections to militias or rearresting prisoners previously released from/prisoner exchanges. not on a worse/not worse scale, i mean to say it represents a different kind of cruelty/pressure. he has never been arrested before.

      • Maximus Decimus Meridius on February 22, 2013, 12:51 pm

        But as you know, Palestinians (men women and children) – many of whom have no ‘connections to militias’ – are arrested on completely spurious grounds every single day. I fail to see how this one arrest is worse than the arrests which happen routinely in Palestine. And clearly, if the US State Dept invited him to Washington, he cant’ be all that radical, or AIPAC would have blocked his visa.

      • annie on February 22, 2013, 12:56 pm

        no one said it was worse. in fact i just said “not on a worse/not worse scale”.

        perhaps if his art was not included in the draft and i made no mention of his trip to the US you would have preferred the article. but it is customary when writing about a prisoner to include information about their lives. the same way one mentions a soccer player has been abducted. you mention something about who they are. unless you think it was just a random arrest and he was not targeted for who he was.

        edit, also i should mention one of the reasons this is getting international attention is because he was a member of the cartoon movement, a global cartoon org. he had many contacts and was recognized internationally. some of these people knew him and his art. so people tend to rally when their associates get arrested.

      • Maximus Decimus Meridius on February 22, 2013, 1:01 pm

        I’m not criticising the article, and sorry if I gave that impression.

        I’m criticising those who have suddenly discovered the fact that Israel engages in arbitrary arrest only when a young artist (who got the State Dept seal of approval) is kidnapped. They don’t give a damn when ordinary men, women and children are kidnapped by the occupation forces every single day.

      • annie on February 22, 2013, 1:17 pm

        frankly Maximus, i really don’t care if people are suddenly becoming aware of administrative detention thru the arrest of mohammad. what i care about is that they become aware.

        many many people believe there’s possibly/probably a ‘logic’ or justification behind these abductions that lays the blame on the prisoner. if they know nothing about a person then it may be easier to believe they were targeted for being involved in crime. but the very fact that he did have international connections and was known, it sets as an example of the kind of person (innocent) who is targetted, and calls attention to the inhumanity of the occupation policy.

        but people are noticing other arrests and we will write about other people’s arrests if we have news about them. that’s what we’re here for. so if you know something about a prisoner, please post about him/her in the comments with some links or send them to us via email and we can research them. graphics too if available. not sure if you’ve noticed but we do write article about prisoners several times a week. the last front page article from yesterday, allison:

      • Maximus Decimus Meridius on February 22, 2013, 2:02 pm

        Again, as I’ve said, my comments were not in any way intended to be a criticism of you or the article, and I’ve already apologised if I mistakenly gave that impression.

        And I’d love to be optimistic that this latest arrest will lead to a seachange in attitudes, but I doubt it. My guess is that he’ll be quietly released, with some excuse about how ‘mistakes were made’ and the story will vanish from whatever headlines it ever occupied. Meanwhile, the media silence will go on… and on. Obviously, if Sabanaah gets released, that’s great: it’s one less unjustly detained prisoner in an Israeli jail. But while I’d love to think this latest outrage will change mainstream opinion, sadly I have to doubt that it will.

      • annie on February 22, 2013, 2:38 pm

        sorry if i sounded defensive maximus, no need to apologize. thanks for all your attention.

      • pipistro on February 22, 2013, 12:52 pm

        Annie, I totally agree.
        (and indicates a weakness on the PR ground)

  3. Cliff on February 22, 2013, 1:31 pm

    Oh but I’m sure if a documentary is made about his imprisonment, hasbara trolls will say they are proud of Israeli democracy for partially funding said documentary on the ILLEGAL and immoral imprisonment of a Palestinian civilian for no f***ing reason.

  4. Michael Lesher on 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.

  5. diasp0ra on 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.

  6. oldgeezer on 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 on 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

  7. Ossinev on 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.


Leave a Reply