Press freedom reports




In Reporters without Borders annual Worldwide Press Freedom Index Palestine ranks 134th, just beating Israel which comes in 135th. The press situation in Palestine is labeled as a “difficult situation.” The annual report laments the effect of the internal Palestinian conflict: “Dozens of Palestinian journalists, labelled either pro-Hamas or pro-Fatah, were physically attacked. Reporters from public media were attacked while covering Hamas events. The offices of the public news agency WAFA were ransacked in September and equipment destroyed. The agency was attacked several times during the year after faction leaders and Hamas prime minister Ismael Haniyeh accused it of putting out El Fatah propaganda.”

 

The Committee to Protect Journalists observes that “reporters (...) complained of intimidation and harassment by Palestinian authorities, political factions, and militia. Rivalry between the Hamas-led government elected in January and the Fatah movement of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) meant Palestinian journalists came under pressure to align themselves with particular groups. Political infighting prompted some groups to kidnap foreign journalists as a means of pressuring the authorities to accede to their demands.”

 

The assessment of the International Press Institute presents the same findings: “Political divisions had a devastating impact on journalists, a number of whom were violently attacked after being accused of working for partisan media. Radio and television stations were raided and destroyed by armed groups affiliated with Fatah or Hamas, cutting off access to vital information for residents of the PA and prompting concerns for the safety of journalists. Journalists in the PA work in a dangerous climate of fear and insecurity, facing threats from rival Palestinian groups and from the Israeli army. The cycle of violence between the Israeli army and Palestinian militant groups continued this year and Israeli forces were responsible for a number of attacks on journalists. Several journalists were shot, some receiving critical injuries, and the Israeli army was repeatedly criticized for not taking the proper steps to distinguish between civilians and militants during their operations in the West Bank and Gaza.