Israel’s measure of press freedom climbed 17 slots over last year in a Reporters Without Borders report on Tuesday.
The NGO’s classification covered 180 countries, with Israel reaching slot 96.
The 2014 World Press Freedom Index listed Israel under the headline “Noteworthy Rises.”
However, according to the report, “Israel’s 17-place rise must be offset against its 20-place fall in the 2013 index as a result of Operation Pillar of Defense in November 2012, when two Palestinian journalists were killed, and the many raids it carried out against Palestinian media. Security needs continue to be used as an excuse to limit freedom of information. The Israeli media are able to be outspoken but media located in ‘Israeli territory’ must comply with prior military censorship and gag orders. Investigative reporting involving national security is not welcome.”
The report added, “In Israel (96th, +17), freedom of information is often sacrificed to purported security requirements.”
Israel said the two Palestinians were Hamas terrorists masquerading as reporters.
A Hamas website identified both men as “martyrs” and “jihadist fighters.”
The US Treasury Department designated Al-Aksa Television, the organization on whose behalf the men worked, as a terrorist organization in 2010.
The IDF said the two Palestinian reporters, “Mahmoud al-Kumi and Hussam Salama were Hamas operatives and cameramen for Hamas’s Al-Aksa television network, which regularly features programming that encourages and praises attacks on Israeli civilians.”
The Freedom Index report further noted, “Abusive treatment of Palestinian and foreign journalists by the Israel Defense Forces is common, especially during the weekly demonstrations at the separation wall. Many photojournalists were deliberately targeted when leaving the demonstrations in November 2013.
On 4 December, an Israeli high court endorsed the seizure of equipment from Wattan TV during an IDF raid in February 2012.”
According to the 2014 World Press Freedom Index, its report “spotlights the negative impact of conflicts on freedom of information and its protagonists. The ranking of some countries has also been affected by a tendency to interpret national security needs in an overly broad and abusive manner to the detriment of the right to inform and be informed.”
Finland led the report with the number- one spot and Eritrea garnered the worst marking.