The Palestinian Authority uses censorship, fear and intimidation against Palestinian journalists who express dissent or question the PA.
PA TARGETS TWO PALESTINIAN JOURNALISTS
Recently, Khaled Abu Toameh of the Jerusalem Post reported that the Palestinian Authority had unjustifiably detained two journalists, Haroun Abu Arrah and Omar Arqoub in response to their journalistic work . Abu Arrah stated, “I went to the headquarters of the General Intelligence Security two days after receiving a summons. They asked me provocative and personal questions, such as whether I was having or had sexual relations. I told the interrogator that was none of his business. He replied: You better answer the questions.”
Additionally, Abu Arrah was questioned about a comment that he had posted on Facebook. According to Abu Arrah, “The interrogation lasted for two-and-a-half hours after which I was released without knowing why I had been summoned in the first place.” Earlier on, Abu Arrah had been held in custody for ten days for asking PA President Mahmoud Abbas about questionable PA practices. He claimed, “There was a press conference in Oslo, Norway, where I asked President Mahmoud Abbas directly whether he was aware that people were dying in PA and Hamas prisons. The president replied that he did not know about this. So I told him that he should stop it.”
As a result of this brave stance, Abu Arrah spent ten days in solidarity confinement without a mattress and the PA has been harassing his employers to fire him. The second Palestinian journalist, Arqoub, was held in the custody of the Palestinian Authority for 11 days and had his laptop confiscated, also for journalistic work the PA disfavored. Since his release, Arqoub has been interrogated several times and was forced to hand over the passwords of his Facebook account and email address to Palestinian intelligence services. The Palestinian Center for Human Rights has condemned such persecution and called upon the Palestinian Authority to “respect freedom of the media and expression.”
A HISTORY OF PERSECUTING PALESTINIAN JOURNALISTS
This is not the first time that the Palestinian Authority has persecuted Palestinian journalists. The Palestinian Authority media routinely selects editors who agree with their ideology and shuts down Palestinian newspapers who dare to dissent. Palestinian bloggers and journalists that speak out against PA corruption are either arrested or face intimidation. Meanwhile, as Palestinian journalists are prevented on reporting on PA corruption, the PA media instead distracts the Palestinian population by inciting violence against Israel and denying Jewish history within the Israel, propaganda which is not conducive to peace. There are only rare exceptions regarding this general PA media trend.
The lack of freedom of the press within Palestinian Authority controlled areas is merely one of many human rights abuses that occur there, for Palestinian women and Christians also face persecution. Freedom House ranks the Palestinian Authority in its entirety as not free.
By Rachel Avraham, staff writer for United With Israel