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Mohammad Saba'aneh Arrested

March 25

The Arabic desk of Radio Netherlands Worldwide has posted an update (as well as our series of support cartoons) on Mohammad, adn has some more information on what he is accused of. According to his lawyer, Mohammad is accused of accepting money in Jordan for his brother Tamer, a member of Hamas who is currently in an Israeli prison. Mohammad denies this, and claims he handed the money to another person while still in Jordan, because he suspected the funds were linked to Hamas.

March 20

The Palestinian News Network reports that on March 19, the militiray court has once again requested an extension of the detention of Mohammad. The prosecution now has until next Thursday to decide whether they will present an indictment or not.

In the meantime, media around the globe are still following Mohammad's case. +972 reported on the case, and Daryl Cagle of posted a letter he send to the Isreali ambassador to the US:

I run a small business, Cagle Cartoons, Inc., that syndicates the work of cartoonists from around the world to over 850 subscribing newspapers, including half of the daily, paid-circulation newspapers in America. Among the cartoonists we distribute is Yaakov Kirschen, the cartoonist who draws Dry Bones for The Jerusalem Post; Yaakov’s cartoons run in Jewish newspapers throughout the USA. Our American editorial cartoonists are great supporters of Israel, in contrast to cartoonists from the rest of the world who harshly criticize Israel. The contrast is easy to see as editorial cartoons reflect world opinion. American cartoonists are Israel’s most visible suporters, and my own small business is the leader in distributing these views for America and the world to see.

It seems clear that Muhammad has been jailed to chill his cartoons that are critical of Israel. Instead, this ugly incident risks chilling Israel’s most visible supporters in America’s press, at a time when Israel needs our support more than ever.

Read the entire letter here.

March 15

Another week has passed, and the Fars News Agency reports that the detention of Mohammad has yet again been extenden by another eight days. They also report Mohammad's brother was arrested on March 6, also for reasons yet unclear. The judge did say that the arrest of Mohammad's brother necessitated further interrogation of Mohammad, who is held in solitary confinement, and has received no official charges to date. Ramzy Taweel tells us that the Israeli authorities are looking into files from 1998, when Mohammad was at University.

Cartoon by Sherif Arafa

Cartoon by Amr Okasha

March 10

PRI's The World speaks with Israeli comic book artist Uri Fink about the arrest of Mohammad Saba'aneh. There's also a slidewhow of Mohammads work, narrated by Carol Hills (editor of Global Political Cartoons).

March 7

Another update reaches us via Ramy Taweel, colleague of Mohammad. Sadly, the Isreali authorities decided today to extend the detention with another 8 days. There is still no clarity on what the charges are against Mohammad, exactly.

These is some positive news as well: Mohammad's lawyers met with him, and report he is doing fine. They have published a statement calling the detention unjustified.

March 6

The next issue of New Internationalist Magazine devotes half a page to the arrest of Mohammad Saba'aneh and the support of cartoonists:


March 2

ZebiriCartoon by Siham Zebiri

The Committee to Protect Journalists has posted an update on Mohammad's case:

Israeli authorities said they were investigating the cartoonist for providing services to hostile organizations, according to the cartoonist's lawyer. No formal charges have been announced.

The cartoonist has been transferred from the Jalemeh detention center to Ashkelon prison, according to news reports. Dozens of protesters staged a rally in front of the Al-Hayat al-Jadidabuilding on February 28, 2013, to show their support for Saba'aneh and other detained Palestinians.

Read the full update here.

Cartoon by Manos Symeonakis

March 1

Cartoons (clockwise) by Dlog, @revolution, Tunis from Willis and Troud

Although the outlook is not good, the news about the fate of Mohammad is still spreading. The Doha Center for Media Freedom (DCMF) released an official statement yesterday:

“DCMF calls for the Israeli authorities to release Mohammad Saba’aneh immediately.

It is unacceptable for governments to use outdated and archaic legal restrictions to detain journalists indefinitely and without charge, as is the case with Mohammad.

The security forces have not yet disclosed any information about Saba’aneh or his whereabouts, and the centre is urging the authorities to allow the journalist access to a lawyer as well as his family.

Access to information and media freedom are basic human rights which can never be compromised.  Journalists should never face persecution for their work, no matter where they are.  We are hoping for a speedy resolution to Saba’aneh’s case and that he can return to his home as soon as possible.”

Well-known Israeli cartoonist Michel Kichka  writes to support Mohammad on his website (in French), and Israeli newspaper Haaretz also writes (in Hebrew) about the plight of the young Palestinian cartoonist.

Tunisian cartoon website has started a solidarity campaign in support of Mohammad:

The Yaka ! ( who promotes caricaturists and press cartoonists joins the international solidarity movement to fully support Mohammad Saba’aneh. We invite our readers to join the International Human Right Council’s international campaign to write a letter for Mohammed’s imminent release. This action is by no means political, but only based on the basic rights of the Universal Declaration of Human’s Rights that forbids, amongst other things, torture and arbitrary detentions.

A number of cartoonistsshow their support visually at With their permission, we have published some of them here. To see all the cartoons in support of Mohammad, visit their website.

Cartoon Movement is working together with international organizations to offer legal aid to Mohammad and his family, in an effort to get Mohammad released, or at least ensure his welfare. More news will be posted here as soon as we have it.

February 28

Ramzy Taweel gives us an update on the situation: today, the Israeli court extended the detention of Mohammad Saba'aneh with another 9 days. Things are looking grim for the cartoonist, who is held without an official charge. It is starting to look like he might be facing indefinite detention. Family and lawyers are not allowed contact with Mohammad, and have not been in contact with him since he was detained by Israeli authority. Friends and family express grave concerns about his welfare and health; they do not know if Mohammad is held in isolation or with other captives, nor any other condition of his captivity.

Hassan2Cartoon by Fadi Abou Hassan

February 25

In response to the death of Palestinian detainee Arafat Jaradat, who died in Israeli custody on Saturday, the family of Mohammad have written an open letter, calling on humantiarian organizations to help them visit Mohammed:

We are the family of Mohammed Abdel Ghani Saba'na, who has been arrested by the Israeli Occupation Army as he was coming back home from Jordan through Al-Karama crossing. And since that day his lawyers was unable to meet him and all their requests were rejected.

We – Family of Sabaaneh – and after the death of “ARAFAT JARADAT” during investigation by Israeli army, at Aljalameh compound or after that in Majeddo prison, We appeals to all parties especially humanitarian organizations all around the world to interfere fast to help us visiting our son to check on him and his safety we appeal to them to work hard to save our our Son and all prisoners from the Occupation prisons to end their suffering by lifting their case up to international forums to assure their safety and their legal rights.

Family of Sabaaneh

English version of the letter was approved by Adel Sabaaneh, brother of Mohammad Sabaaneh

Mohammad is scheduled to appear in court again on Thursday. So far, every appeal from lawyers and family to visit him has been denied.

February 24

The latest update reaches us again via fellow cartoonist Ramzy Taweel: on Friday, a request by lawyers to visit Mohammad was denied by the Israeli authorities. Mohammad's family has not been in contact with him since his arrest.

February 23

More cartoonists show their support for Mohammad:

'Dreadful weapon' by Ramses Morales Izquierdo

'Solidarity to Mohammad Saba'aneh' by Enrico Bertuccioli

'Saba'aneh's pencil' by Alex Falco

'For my brother Mohammad Saba'aneh' by Fadi Abou Hassan

February 22

'Mohammad Saba'aneh' by Eyad Shtaiwe

Word about Mohammad's arrest is spreading: after Reporters Without Borders issued a press release, the Committee to Protect Journalists published a statement calling for his immediate release.

Israeli authorities said they were investigating the cartoonist for providing services to unspecified "hostile organizations,"according to Saba'aneh's employer, the Palestinian daily Al-Hayat al-Jadida, which cited the cartoonist's lawyer.

Saba'aneh works as a political cartoonist for Al-Hayat al-Jadida, and has depicted imprisoned Palestinians in his most recent cartoons. One, published on February 17, shows a mirror on the wall of a prison, revealing prison bars in its reflection. More than 300 Palestinians are being held without charge in administrative detention in Israel, according to B'Tselem, an Israeli human rights group.

The International Council for Human Rights has issued a call to action, asking all to write letters calling for Mohammad's immediate release to the Israeli authorities:

Please write immediately in English, Hebrew or your own language:
Calling on the Israeli authorities to release Mohammed Sabaana and all other Palestinian administrative detainees immediately, unless they are properly charged with internationally recognizable criminal offences and brought to trial in full conformity with international fair trial standards;
Calling on them to ensure that Mohammed Sabaana and all hunger strikers receive all the specialist medical attention they require, which is only available in a civilian hospital, ensuring regular access to doctors of their choice, and  not subjected to shackling or other cruel or inhuman treatment;
Urging them to end the use of administrative detention and permit all detainees family visits.
Avi Mizrahi 
West Bank Commander of the IDF – GOC Central Command
Military Post 01149Battalion 877
Israel Defense Forces, Israel
Fax: +972 2 530 5741
Menahem Mazuz
Israeli Attorney General
29 Salah al-Din Street
Fax: +972 2 530 5741 / 530 5724
Ban Ki-moon
Secretary General
United Nations
New York, 10017, USA
Fax: +1 212 963 4879
Navanethem Pillay 
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
Palais Wilson , 52 rue des Pâquis 
CH-1201 Geneva, Switzerland
Fax: +41 22 917 90 00
Christof Heyns 
Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions (OHCHR) 
Palais des Nations 
CH-1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland
Fax: +41 22 917 90 00  
Bastiaan Belder MEP 
Chair, Delegation for relations with Israel 
Parlement européen
Bât. Altiero Spinelli
04F266, rue Wiertz 60
B-1047 Bruxelles, Belgium
Fax: +32(0)2 28 49270

We also urge you to write a letter expressing your concern to the Israeli authorities and the organizations mentioned above.

'All My Best Friends Are Superheroes' by Manos Symeonakis

February 21

Reporters Without Borders has issued a press release condemning the arbitrary arrest of Mohammad Saba'aneh, and calling for his release:

Reporters Without Borders condemns Palestinian cartoonist Mohamed Sabaaneh’s arbitrary arrest by Israeli authorities on his return from Jordan on 16 February and his continuing detention. An Israeli military court decided yesterday to hold him for another nine days.

The press freedom organization calls on the Israeli authorities to publicly say what he is charged with and to let him see a lawyer.

Read the entire press release here.

February 20

Update 12:46 GMT: Fellow Palestinian cartoonist Ramzy Taweel tells us that the Israeli Court has decided to extend the detention of Mohammad Saba'aneh by another 9 days, during which time lawyers will not be allowed to visit with him (nor anyone else). Lawyers say this is a tactic to delay the release of Mohammad, and that there is no justified reason for the extended detention.

Here is a video of a protest outside Ofer Military Prison against the arrest of Mohammad and other journalists:

Mohammad is supposed to appear in court today, and we hope to have more information by the end of the day. The good news is that many organizations are now aware of Mohammad's situation, and we have been informed that both the Committee to Protect Journalists and Reporters Without Borders are investigating the case. Our cartoonists have begun to do what they do best: expressing their support visually. Here are some cartoons that have come in over the last 24 hours:

Murtadha'Mohammad Saba'aneh' by Saad Murtadha

'Freedom for Palestinian Cartoonist Mohammad Saba'aneh' by Fadi Abou Hassan

'Jail for a Cartoonist' by Bernard Bouton

Saba'anehFebruary 19

We have spoken to another Palestian cartoonist, Ramzy Taweel, to find out more about Mohammad's arrest. Unfortunately, there is not much information available. Tomorrow Mohammad is due to appear in court, and in the meantime, no one is allowed to visit him, including his lawyer.

He was arrested in Jericho and sent to ALJAFLA military base near Jenin City, where he was held for 12 hours with no information at all. Under the law of secret information the Israeli court can expand his detention another 16 days 'for more investigation'. After that period, it can be expanded with another 16 days, and then it becomes a period of 6 months, which can be extended without the need to have any clear accusation. This is called indefinite detention. According to Ramzy, friends and family of Mohammad fear this will happen.

Mohammad's brother says the Palestinian state lawyer and the Palestinian prisoners lawyer are working hard to be present in court tomorrow, to prevent any further detention of Mohammad.

Also tomorrow, the Palestinian journalists are making a stand outside the Ofer Military Court for Saba'aneh and another journalist that was arrested.

Cartoon Movement and Cartoonists Rights Network International have sent letters of protest to the embassies of Israel in the United States and the Netherlands, and are seeking international media attention to give publicity to the arrest of Mohammad.

February 18

One of our Palestian cartoonists, Mohammad Saba'aneh, was arrested by Israeli authorities on Saturday, for reasons as of yet unknown. Mohammed was detained at a border crossing between Jordan and the West Bank when returning from back home after attending a conference for the Arab American University (AAU), where he works in the public relations department, in Amman.

The Palestinian journalists syndicate denounced the arrest of Mohammed, and issued a press release that Mohammed’s arrest fell in line with the systematic targeting by Israeli authorities of journalists and infringement on their freedom of movement.

We have informed Cartoonists Rights Network International about the incident, and will work with them to find out why Mohammad was arrested, and to help and support the cartoonist. More information will follow as soon as we have it.

Freedom'Dreaming of Freedom' by Mohammad Saba'eneh


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Edward Nadler

The jailing of Saba'eneh was for funneling Hamas money, not drawing cartoons. No matter how much you would like to jump on the pro-cartoonist sentiment at the moment, you cant have your "condemning terrorism" cake on one hand, and eat it too! And on the subject of the "peaceful cartoonists"......Are hateful cartoons against the very existence of other people on the side of "peaceful cartoonists" or "Islamic terrorists"-? Justifying hate speech against the existence of Israel and Israelis is not compatible with peace, period. (PS If you are really for free discussion and expression of ideas, you will of course print this email, right?)

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