The Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms “MADA” issued its annual report on the violations against media freedoms in the West Bank and Gaza Strip during the year 2020, which witnessed a substantial decline compared to the previous year, 2019. This is especially true to violations committed by Palestinian sides.
The year 2020 witnessed a total of 408 violations against media freedoms in Palestine, 215 of which were committed by the Israeli occupation, while various Palestinian parties in the West Bank and Gaza committed 96 violations, whereas social media companies committed 95 violations, and other parties committed two violations.
It is worthy to mention that the most of the violations committed by social media companies are, indirectly, part of the Israeli violations, as many came in response to Israeli demands and requests.
MADA believes that this decline in the number of violations is due to three main factors: 1- the discontinuation of the Great Marches of Return in Gaza Strip and the reduction in popular activities in the West Bank. 2- The lockdown measures that have been taken as part of the public endeavors to combat the Corona pandemic, and the consequent reduction in the opportunities for direct contact between journalists and security services. 3- The operations of fighting Palestinian content carried out by social media networks, foremost of which is Facebook, pushing Palestinian journalists to practice self-censorship over what they publish; out of fear and anticipation of closing their pages or banning them from publishing.
The Israeli violations, together with Facebook’s violations, accounted for about 76% of the total violations recorded last year, compared to about 24% of the total violations committed by Palestinian parties in the West Bank and Gaza.
During 2020, MADA Center monitored and documented attacks against press freedoms affecting a total of 250 people, including 230 (male), 20 (female) journalists, and six media institutions that employ dozens of male and female journalists.
The decline in the number of violations resulted primarily from the decrease in Palestinian violations, which decreased by more than half, as well as Facebook’s violations against media outlets and journalists, although it increased (Facebook violations) against freedom of expression among all Palestinians.
The Israeli attacks were limited to the West Bank, where about 98% of them (210 violations) occurred, compared to only 5 violations in the Gaza Strip.
As in the past years, most of the Israeli attacks were among the dangerous types on media freedoms and the lives of journalists.
Foremost among them are the physical attacks, which amounted to 77 attacks, or 36% of the total Israeli attacks, noting that 29 journalists who were affected by the physical attacks of the occupation soldiers during the past year were wounded with live bullets, metal and rubber bullets, and direct tear gas canisters fired at their bodies.
The report also sheds light on the targeting of media institutions and its serious and long-term impact in undermining the general capacity for the continuity of media work in Palestine, and devoting a motivating atmosphere to avoid working in this field, and drew attention to the continued closure of the Palestine TV office in Jerusalem for the second year in a row, preventing it and its employees from any activity or coverage in Jerusalem, as well as targeting other institutions.
Palestinian violations decreased during the year 2020 by about 52% compared to the previous year, as 37 violations were documented in the West Bank and 59 in the Gaza Strip, noting that summons and interrogations formed the largest mass of the violations (about 39%). This is due to the internal Palestinian division, the end of which would lead to the cessation of an important part of these violations.
While MADA Center renews its welcome of President Mahmoud Abbas’s decree to hold legislative and presidential elections, it confirms that this will contribute to ending the division and thus reducing Palestinian violations in a large scale.