The Palestinian Journalists Syndicate (PJS) presented a summary of its 2017 report on violations of journalistic freedom in the Occupied Palestinian Territories in a press conference it held on Wednesday, January 3.
The report documents a total of 909 violations of journalistic freedom between January 1, 2017 and December 31, 2017, including 740 by Israeli and 169 by Palestinian authorities in the West Bank and Gaza.
In his opening remarks, PJS President Nasser Abu Bakker focused on the dramatic increase in the number and nature of these violations witnessed during the last 12 months, and indicated that the Federation of Arab Journalists will be gathering in Cairo to discuss the Palestinian situation. “Along with the sharp escalation in Israeli violations against our journalists, it is a disgrace to see an increase in violations by local authorities,” Abu Bakker said. The PJS president also condemned Facebook’s closing of 158 Palestinian accounts following requests made by Israel.
Dr. Ammar Dwek, president of the Independent Commission for Human Rights (ICHR) praised the role played by Palestinian journalists, particularly in the field, where they are exposed to grave physical danger at the hands of Israeli forces. Dwek also emphasized the importance of the partnership between the ICHR and PJS in monitoring violations against journalists and dealing with them.
Mohammed Al-laham, head of the PJS’s committee monitoring journalistic freedom delivered a summary of the main types of violations and their numbers detailed in the report. The second half of 2017 witnessed an increase in the number of violations with the greatest number being documented during December followed by July. Al-laham said that the nature of violations in 2017 was also qualitatively different than in previous years, specifically: “October saw the Israeli closing by military order of 8 offices belonging to 3 media production companies; the raiding and closing of 2 radio stations; the sentencing of two Palestinian journalists to 2 years imprisonment due to their professional activities; the imposition of monetary fines against 25 journalists; and the continued incarceration of 28 journalists already in Israeli jails.”
The main statistics and trends covered by the report are as follows:
- In 2017, there was a total of 909 violations against Palestinian journalists in the occupied territories, an increase of 37% over the 2016 figures.
- Israeli violations accounted for 81% (740) of the total, while infringements by Palestinian authorities constituted 19% (169) of all such abuses.
- For 2017, Israeli violations increased by 33% (183 more than in the previous year), while those committed by Palestinian authorities jumped by 61% (64 more than in 2016).
- Geographically, the greatest number of violations were recorded in Jerusalem (137 or 18% of the total), followed by Hebron and Ramallah.
- During the month of December 2017 alone, there was a total of 147 violations, all committed by Israeli occupation forces, representing 20% of the annual total, and constituting a dramatic increase of 406% compared to the figures for December 2016.
- The violations experienced by Palestinian journalists as a result of new policies adopted by Palestinian Authority involved mainly electronic crime legislation; the blocking and closing of 29 websites since last June; the 2 month arrest of the journalist Foad Kamal Jaradah in Gaza; and the arrest of 7 journalists in the West Bank, some of whom have already been convicted and sentenced.