The Palestinian Authority government in the West Bank has stepped up its crackdown on Palestinian journalists by arresting a female journalist because of a comment she posted on Facebook.

Last Wednesday, PA security forces detained the journalist and blogger, Ismat Abdel Khaleq, for criticizing the PA leadership and calling for the dismantlement of the PA.

Over the weekend, she was remanded into custody for another 15 days and is being held in solitary confinement, her colleagues told The Jerusalem Post.

They said that Khaleq was taken into custody after the PA security forces in the West Bank accused her of “slander and defamation.”

Khaleq is the fourth Palestinian journalist to be detained for posting critical comments on Facebook over the past two years.

Several other Palestinian journalists have also been summoned for questioning after criticizing the PA leadership on their Facebook accounts.

The three other journalists who were detained because of their comments on Facebook are Rami Samara, who works for the PA’s official news agency, Wafa; Mamdouh Hamamreh from Al-Quds TV; and George Canawati, director of Bethlehem 2000 Radio.

The crackdown on Facebook users in the West Bank coincides with the arrest last week of Palestinian journalist Youssef Al-Shayeb, who works for the Jordanian daily Al-Ghad newspaper.

Shayeb was arrested for exposing corruption in the Palestinian diplomatic mission in France. Last Thursday he went on a hunger strike to protest his incarceration.

His arrest has sparked a wave of protests among Palestinian journalists and human rights groups, who accused the PA government of violating freedom of speech in the West Bank.

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