The Palestinian Journalists Syndicate (PJS) has issued a new report documenting 608 cases of Media Rights Violations during 2020. The report enumerates 490 violations by the Israeli army and security forces, 76 cases in the Gaza Strip by Hamas’ security forces, and 42 attacks in the West Bank perpetrated by security forces of the Palestinian National Authority.
Among the violations registered by PJS, the most common was the detention of journalists. The report detailed a list of 185 journalists prevented from working while covering events, especially those in which occupation soldiers banned peaceful demonstrations and gatherings.
At the same time, 36 journalists were detained in prison by the Israeli authorities, with 20 of them still incarcerated at the end of last year. Due to Israel’s systematic targeting on journalists working in Palestine, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) submitted two joint complaints with the PJS to the United Nations (UN) on December 9, 2020.
Repression against journalists reached its peak in the fourth quarter of the year, when 185 cases were registered, explained by the high number of detentions – 68 – recorded between October and December as the political situation worsened. Sixty-three attacks against women journalists accounted for more than 10% of all violations.
The union also highlighted the negative impact of COVID-19 on the work of the journalists. In particular, the report emphasizes a stifling financial crisis withing Palestinian media due to closures and economic recession, as most companies stopped sponsorship and advertising. The PJS report does note a decrease in the violations against journalists in compared with previous annual reports, but stressed that they still remain unacceptably high. The report also acknowledges the Palestinian National Authority’s political will, demonstrated over the last two years, to address failings in its dealing with media freedom issues.