On Saturday, Press House - Palestine honored the winners of its annual media freedom award for the year 2018 at the fifth-anniversary ceremony held at the Commodore Hotel in Gaza City.
A group of journalists, writers, intellectuals in addition to a number of new journalists and media activists attended the ceremony.
In his speech, chairman of the Press House Belal Jadallah welcomed the audience, referring that the ceremony comes five years after founding Press House-Palestine, which was established to promote freedom of opinion and expression and support independent media in the Palestinian territories.
Jadallah congratulated all the winners of the annual award this year, thanking the media jury committees that worked in a professional and transparent manner in order to select the winners according to the award's criteria.
"Today we celebrate the annual prize of the Press House, which is dedicated to promoting freedom of expression, democracy, community reconciliation, national unity, tolerance, humanitarian issues, women and youth issues, and academic issues."
He pointed out that these issues distinguish the Press House Award each year in order to encourage the largest number of journalists to work on these important issues that affect the Palestinian media discourse on one hand and the Palestinian society on the other.
He mentioned that the Press House Award is annual, funded by the Norwegian and Swiss governments and is part of the networking and advocacy.
He pointed out that the process of judging and selecting the winners are conducted through specialized and independent media Jury committees of media professionals. Where they work freely, professionally and independently to judge all different areas of the award and the results of their selection implement immediately from the institution without any interference to promote professionalism and transparency in addition to implementing all committee recommendations in an accurate manner for the coming years.
"Every year, we hope for a better reality for media freedom, but this year, unfortunately, there have been serious violations against media freedom, in which we lost dear colleagues who were martyred for the sake of truth," Jadallah said.
He also extended his condolences to the journalists, Yasser Murtaja, Ahmed Abu Hussein and all martyrs of the truth. Wishing safety and recovery to journalists who were injured as a result of deliberate targeting by the occupation during their coverage of events on the borders.
He continued: "We are talking today about the reality of media freedom while occupation and division are still the obstacles to media freedom," pointing to the deliberate intent of the occupation snipers to target journalists during their work, despite the clarity of the badges they carry.
"We are facing an occupation that kills journalists, prevents treatment, rejects entering occupational safety equipment, and prevents freedom of movement. This is a series of the most serious violations of media freedom," he proceeded. Adding that in the previous weeks, he has informed, members of the European Parliament and international institutions in Europe of these violations in details. In an attempt to form an international public opinion to expose these systematic practices of the occupation, to stop the violations against Palestinian journalists and to strengthen the principle of settlement and legal tracking of the Palestinian journalists' killers.
Jadallah spoke about the issue of defending media freedom at the internal level saying: "Our strategy continues to be direct intervention by communicating with the competent authorities and defending journalists' rights when any of them is exposed to a violation ".
He explained that "all this comes in full parallel to the continuous work mechanism in order to explain the violations against journalists and the Palestinian press. In addition to exposing the practices of the occupation against media freedom in front of international institutions to form an international lobby to unmask the occupation practices against Palestinian journalists and put an end to it.
Mr. Jadallah thanked the Swiss and Norwegian governments for their continuous support to the Press House to become the home and the independent Palestinian non-profit media organization that does not have a syndicate or representative capacity to deal with media issues, freedom of opinion and expression, and support old and new journalists. In order to achieve a more developed and free media to reach a free democratic society.
He mentioned that the Press House was launched during the past years with confidence, "we encountered many difficulties and struggles." However, he added, "at the same time, we found many allies from journalists and various partner institutions. We worked according to a clear strategic plan and three main programs; capacity-building program, advocacy and networking program, in addition to media and documentation program ".
Jadallah explained that the Press House has carried out many various activities during the past years in terms of objectives and target groups. Including 63 training courses targeting 1142 journalists, 52 press conferences targeting 2125 journalists, 25 experiences exchanges meetings targeting 1,027 journalists. As well as organizing dozens of press conferences and media campaigns for institutions and different destinations, and dozens of photo galleries.
According to the Chairman of the Press House, 53 youth media initiatives were supported and funded, targeting 3421 journalists, hosting 168 activities (workshops, meetings and sessions), receiving 76 local and international delegations and producing a series of specialized films.
Among the activities, according to Jadallah, is the annual prize for the press house, indicating that it has registered noticeable gradual advancing. This gives a satisfactory indicator of succeeding the goal set for the prize to activate the role of journalists in focusing on issues of media freedom and national issues such as reconciliation and national unity and democracy and tolerance issues.
At the end of his speech, Mr. Jadallah thanked all the institutions that supported the Press House from the beginning, when it was an idea, as well as all the people who had a footprint from the time of its establishment to the present time. In addition to all the media workers who have and still provide sacrifices in order to convey the word, sound, and image.
Following the closing of the Press House Chairman's speech, they presented a film documenting the chronology of the years of the Press House Award for Media Freedom and the contributions of those who participated in the various awards.
The ceremony also included an artistic event from the Palestinian folklore performed by Al-Anqaa Band for Folk Arts.
For the first time, Press House decided to grant a prize to a journalist writer whose writings contributed to enriching the scene in Palestine and it was given to the journalist writer Hani Habib.
Journalist Esraa Al-Buhaisi, in her speech on behalf of the jury committees, explained in detail the nature of the committees that were formed to evaluate the advanced materials of the Press House Award for the five categories: "press story, press photo, radio report, television report and short film."
The committees evaluated the advanced materials according to the terms and criteria of the Press House Award according to the declared topics. Fifteen winners won the first, second and third positions of the five categories.
According to Al-Buhaisi, materials ( all articles will be materials), of which ten were rejected for not following the competition criteria. Twenty-nine articles were submitted for the press story category and none was excluded. Thirteen articles were submitted for the short film category and only one was rejected. For the radio report category, eight articles were submitted and none were excluded. Eleven articles were submitted for the TV report category and only one of them was excluded.
She pointed out that the assessment process was carried out with integrity, transparency and objectivity. The evaluation of each category was adopted according to the members of the committee and the Press House. All members of the committee evaluated the advanced materials for each category separately and the first three materials with the highest rates of evaluation were extracted.
According to al-Buhaisi, "if the grades of two advanced courses were equal, the votes of the members of the committee shall be adopted on equal materials."
"During the work, the committees' members were not aware of the names of the applying people in the written categories or press photos, where the material was referred to by numbers, not by its owners' names."
At the end of the ceremony, the winners of the Press House Award were announced for each category, giving $ 500 to the winner of the first place, $ 300 to the second place, and $ 200 to the third place, as follows:
The press photo category, which was judged by Reuters photographer in Gaza Mohammed Jadallah, the AFP photographer Mahmoud al-Hams, photographer of the Associated Press news agency Hatem Mousa and director of the APA images agency Noman Al-Shtewey.
The winner of the first place: Mufid Zuhair Abu Zaida.
The winner of the second place: Ramadan Abdul Muti Al-Agha.
The winner of the third place: Mohammed Nabil Zarandh.
The press story category was judged by journalist Alaa Abu Eisha, the correspondent of Quds Press International, Abdul Ghani Al-Shami, and the press reporter Fayez Abu Aoun.
The winner of the first place: Ruba Fathi Al Shrafi.
The winner of the second place: Jehan Ahmed Kaware'.
The winner of the third place: Norhan Ahmed Al Madhoun.
The short film category, which was judged by the Palestinian directors Mustafa Al-Nabih, Mohamed Al-Sawaf, Alaa Al-Aloul and E'temad Washah.
The winner of the first place: Mohammed Okasha Dahlan
The winner of the second place: Afnan Jihad Al-Qatrawi.
The winner of the third place: Mohammed Emad Al-Aloul.
The radio report category, which was judged by the director of Raya Media Network in Gaza, journalist Amer Abu Shabab, the Voice of Palestine Radio journalist Mu'in Shaloula, and the journalist Aya Shaheen from the Israa local radio station.
The winner of the first place: Bassel Maher Kheireddine
The winner of the second place: Mohammed Yahya Al-Agha
The winner of the third place: Mohammed Sami Al-Aidi
The television report category was judged by the correspondent of Alhurra channel in Gaza, journalist Wissam Yassin, the correspondent of Russia Today news channel Sa'ed al-Suwairki and the correspondent of Al-Alam journalist Esraa al-Buhaisi
The winner of the first place: Nefeen Walid Esleem.
The winner of the second place: Ali Hani al-Jubeh from Nablus in the West Bank.
The winner of the third place: Alaa Ziad Al Akhras.