Palestinian Cartoonist Mohammad Saba'aneh, Cartoon Movement Member and CRNI Affiliate Leader Arrested by Israeli Defense Forces


Palestinian cartoonist Mohammad Saba'aneh visiting Washington, DC in 2010 at the invitation of the State Department of the United States

Palestinian cartoonist Mohammad Saba'aneh was detained late on Saturday, February 16th, by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) at the Karame border crossing between Jordan and the West Bank.  The Palestinian Journalist's Syndicate denounced the arrest of Mohammad, and issued a press release stating the IDF is systematically targeting journalists and infringing their freedom of movement.

Mohammad is a member of The Cartoon Movement, a global cartoonist collective, and editorial cartoonist for al-Hayat al-Jadida newspaper.  He also works in the public relations department of the Arab American University (AAU) in Amman.  In 2010, he visited the annual convention of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists (AAEC) as part of International Visitor Leadership Program, sponsored by the US Department of State.

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: 


February 18, 2013

Amb. Michael Oren
Embassy of Israel to the United States
3514 International Dr. N.W.
Washington, DC 20008

Hon. Ambassador Oren,

Cartoonists Rights Network International is a free speech and human rights organization dedicated to monitoring and supporting political cartoonists who find themselves in trouble because of the power and influence of their work.

It has come to our attention that our Affiliate Representative in Palestine, cartoonist Mohammad Saba’aneh (sometimes spelled "Saba'na"), was arrested and detained late Saturday, February 16, 2013 by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) as he passed the border crossing between Jordan and the West Bank.  

In 2010, Mr. Saba'aneh was a guest of the US State Department Visitors Program during their annual professional visit of regional cartoonists from the Middle East.  While here as part of the group's tour of the United States, he attended the annual convention of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists, and was a guest of CRNI at our annual Award for Courage in Editorial Cartooning ceremony.  

Our organization regularly comes under attack from religious extremist organizations for our support of free speech.  Mr. Saba’aneh, joined CRNI as our representative in Palestine, and did so at no small risk to himself.  For him to be arrested by the IDF must be considered counterproductive in the extreme for all of us.

It is Mr. Saba’aneh's job as a political cartoonist to approach politics, both Israeli and Palestinian, with lighthearted humor as well as pointed satire.  He has never been known as an extremist.  Nor has he been known to be unbalanced with his political criticism.

He works for the al-Hayat al-Jadida newspaper and the Arab American University.

We call upon your good offices to ensure that Mr. Saba’aneh is immediately released and returned to his family with an apology as well as an explanation as to why he was detained.


Dr. Robert Russell
Executive Director
Cartoonists Rights Network International