Media freedom violations by Israel increased slightly during September compared to previous month, while violations by the Palestinian sides in Gaza Strip and the West Bank have decreased during the same period.
The Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA) monitored a total number of 26 violations against media freedoms in the West Bank and Gaza Strip during last September. The Israeli occupation forces carried out most of them (22 attacks), while Palestinian violations were limited to 4 only. In August, there were a total of 25 violations, of which 11 were committed by the Israeli occupation forces and 14 by Palestinian bodies.
During September, the Israeli occupation forces committed 22 attacks against media freedoms in Palestine (equivalent to 85% of the total number of violations recorded this month). Most of these attacks were serious, let alone that they have doubled compared to previous month.
One of the most serious Israeli assaults in September was the Israeli military court’s decision to imprison journalists and Al-Aqsa media outlet correspondents Mustafa al-Khawaja and Ala al-Titi for 8 months (suspended) and a fine of 3,000 shekels on each of them, claiming the media outlet is affiliated to a “banned terrorist organization”, namely Hamas.[i]
In addition, 3 cases of detention and arrests by the Israeli army as well as 6 physical attacks and injuries were recorded. The most serious in significance was a decision by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to prevent Walid al-Omari, the director of Al-Jazeera channel office in Jerusalem from attending a seminar on media and freedom of expression. The event itself was called for by the Israeli Government Information Office. This decision speaks in practical terms of the Israeli official position on the issue of media freedoms and how the Israeli government contradicts itself when it specifically relates to the Palestinians.
The number of Palestinian violations during September decreased significantly compared to August, marking a fall from 14 in August to only 4 in September.
In a very serious precedent, the Gaza Magistrate’s Court sentenced Hajar Harb, a woman journalist in the Arab television network and correspondent to the Al-Masirah channel (a Yemeni channel), for six months and was fined NIS 1,000 ($ 280) because of an investigative report she published on corruption in the Ministry of Health in Gaza.[ii]The court revoked the sentence after protests by civil society organizations, including MADA Center and journalists.
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