December 2016 witnessed a decrease in total number of violations against media freedoms in Palestine, compared to violations recorded in November, The Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA) monitored a total number of 25 violations during December, including 20 violations committed by Israeli Occupation authorities, whilst, Palestinian parties committed in total 5 violations both in West Bank and Gaza Strip, noting that last month (November) witnessed a total of 31 violations including 27 violations committed by Israeli Occupation authorities.
Despite the slight decline in total numbers of Israeli violations from November to December, 27 to 20 respectively, yet Israeli occupation forces continued their attack against media outlets, during December 2016 IOF raided 3 different institutions, and confiscated several belongings and equipment, including the shutdown of an institution for a period of 40 days (noting that during the past month IOF raided 4institutions, confiscated its equipment causing sabotage of contents).
MADA, also monitored 7 cases of arrest, renewal of administrative detention against prisoners for different periods, additionally to 3 cases of injuring ranged from burnings to suffocation due to shooting and targeting journalists with stun grenade and tear gas bombs during a demonstration organized in Bethlehem during Christmas, rather than, exiling a journalist for 15 days from East Jerusalem for a period of 15 days, and the continuation of prosecuting two journalists and hold a hearing alleging their work in a restricted channel.
This coincided with a grave escalation against media freedom, and freedom of expression as the Israeli Knesset(parlement) adopted in a preliminary reading on 03/01/2017 “Facebook law” that was presented by Ayelet Shaked Minister of Justice and Gilad Erdan Minister of Public Security.
According to the bill (in reference to the Israeli Newspaper /Israel Hayom) Israeli courts can issue an order for social media giants similar to Facebook and Google to remove any publications that are considered as “Inciting” from the network, under filed requests by the state.
December witnessed 5 Palestinian violations in total, including (4 in Gaza Strip, and one violation in the West bank), almost same number of violations to what was recorded in November; 4 Palestinian violations in total against media freedoms in West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Palestinian violations this month are: summon and interrogation and a case of arrest and confiscating equipment, and another case of forcing a journalist to remove a report he published.
On the contrary Hebron Magistrate Court in a hearing on 01/12/2016 issued a decision to acquit Ramsat agency cameraman Nidal Asmar Ishtayeh (28years) accused of “Lengthening tongue and mug” after being arrested by the Palestinian preventive security on 13/10/2016, based on posts on Facebook criticizing the Palestinian government.
In this regard, MADA center welcomes the decision of the Palestinian court of acquitting journalist Natsheh and as this decision represents an important basis for freedom of expression.
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