Report on repression of Palestinian journalists

No one really comes out looking very good in this 2009 report from The Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedom — MADA — and Reporters Without Borders.

The reports cites attacks on journalists from both the Israeli military, the Palestinian Authority and Hamas.

The injuries to journalists in the West Bank and Gaza by Israelis and Palestinian groups escalated in 2009. More journalists were injured in action by the Israeli military than from Palestinian groups but the numbers do not match the relative strength of the two groups. According to the report there were 97 recorded attacks on the press by Israeli forces and 76 by the PA or armed Palestinian groups in the territories.

At the same time the Israeli government restricted the movement of Palestinian journalists to and from the West Bank and Gaza, the Palestinian Authority or Hamas actually closed down media organizations or intimidated owners to do so.

As a result, Palestinian journalists regularly self-censor out of fear of both Hamas and Fatah.

Journalist Mustafa Sabri has been routinely arrested and harassed. His home in the West Bank was raided on 9 March by members of the Palestinian Authority’s security forces, reports Reporters Without Borders (RSF). Just hours after Sabri, former bureau chief of the newspaper “Filastine”, was released from prison on bail, he was prevented from giving an interview at his home with Al-Quds TV station about the role of the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate. In Gaza City, security forces for Hamas raided the home of Noufouz Al-Bakri, correspondent for the newspaper “Al-Hayat Al-Jadida”, the day after she criticised women’s right violations in the Gaza Strip online on 7 March.

And when it comes to detaining journalists:

During 2009, Palestinian authorities detained 30 journalists, while Israeli authorities detained seven.

Where the Israelis come in for criticism is the way the army reacts to a tense situation. The report complains of the general reaction of the army to Palestinian demonstrations. In many cases the physical attacks on journalists were part of the general handling of the demonstrations.

It appears — even in this report — that journalists and news media are harassed and targeted as a matter of policy by the Palestinian Authority or Hamas. It also appears the Israeli government does have a policy of detention and harassment, but not to the same extent as the Palestinian organizations.

And where there are cases of explicit physical attack on journalists in the field by the Israeli army, is does not seem to be not official policy. (Not that makes those injured feel any better.)

As usual, there is much to criticize in the area on both sides.

Always remember the story of the scorpion and the turtle trying to cross the river. It’s the best metaphor for the area.

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Filed under Middle East, Press Freedom

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