Journalists cover a protest in Hebron 390.
(photo credit: Michael Omer-Man)
The Palestinian media faced more assaults on press freedom from its own
authorities over the past year than it did from Israel, a recent report
published by the Ramallah-based Palestinian Center for Development and Media
Freedoms (MADA) has highlighted.
According to the report, which was
released last week, there were a total of 206 violations restricting,
intimidating or physically attacking journalists in the West Bank and Gaza strip
in 2011, with Palestinian security services responsible for 106 incidents and
the IDF and Israeli settlers responsible for 100.
While the division is
still comparable, MADA general-director Mousa Rimawi said in a statement
released with the report that this was the first year Palestinian violations
exceeded those committed by Israel.
He also noted that attacks on press
freedom by the Palestinian authorities last year marked a significant increase
over the previous year, where 79 incidents were recorded.
incidents highlighted in the 60-page document, MADA noted that the most
horrifying violation of press freedom was the murder last April of Italian
journalist Vittorio Arrigoni by an armed Palestinian group in the Gaza Strip.
The authors also point to the fact that there has been a significant increase in
general of violent attacks against journalists across the Middle East over the
past year, with 20 people being killed in 2011.
The report’s authors
claimed that many of the violations in 2011 were spurred on by the ongoing
political division among the Palestinians and said that “despite the signing of
a reconciliation agreement between Fatah and Hamas in 2011, no real steps
towards appeasement have been made and there remains a void in accountability
and due process of law, thereby fostering hostilities and leading to this marked
increase in Palestinian perpetrated violations.”
The increase in
Palestinian violations has meant that the Palestinian territories now rank in
the bottom quarter of the global list on freedom of opinion and expression,
compiled by Reporters without Borders, MADA pointed out in its
More than half of the total violations committed by Palestinians
against journalists took place in Gaza, with 63 violations out of 106. MADA
identified the violations as prevention of travel, raiding of media outlets,
prevention of coverage, equipment confiscation, arrest, detention, assault,
interrogation, trial, killings, threats and blocking websites. The majority of
the violations were interrogations, followed closely by physical
In terms of Israel’s violations against Palestinian media, the
center pointed out that the largest number of incidents took place in Jerusalem,
where Palestinian journalists are often prevented from working, followed closely
by violations in the Ramallah area, especially attacks on those covering
protests against the “occupation.”
Physical assault, prevention of
travel, prevention from covering events, equipment confiscation, arrests,
detention, trial and the raiding of homes, are all among the violations cited by
MADA’s Rimawi pointed out that although Israel’s violations against
Palestinian journalists’ freedoms had decreased they still constituted a
“greater threat to the health and well being of journalists,” who, he said were
often targeted with “excessive and inappropriate force” by
According to its website, the center was established in 2006 to
support the journalists in the Palestinian Territories in their fight for
freedom of expression. The Washington DC-based Open Society Institute assisted
in compiling the report.