The Palestinian Authority is “becoming notorious for assaulting and intimidating journalists” and causing some self-censorship by local reporters, according to the Human Rights Watch organization.
The report may partially explain media bias against Israel.
Human Rights Watch, which traditionally has focused on allegation of rights abuses in Israel, stated that Palestinian Authority intimidation has caused many reporters not to write all of what they know.
Hamas has frequently been cited for violence against reporters, most notably the kidnapping of BBC journalist Alan Johnston four years ago. He was released after more than three months in captivity.
The report on abuses in the Palestinian Authority, heavily backed financially and diplomatically by the United States and European Union, includes seven cases. Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch, urged Western countries to condition aid to the PA on the halt to interference with press freedom.
Hamas also was cited for two cases of abuse, but an official of the terrorist organization said the incidents were “mistakes,” according to the Associated Press. The number of physical attacks and confiscation of journalists’ equipment soared by 45 percent in 2010 compared with the previous year and abuse of journalists rose by 79 percent, the rights group said.
One of the cases that was cited involved filmmaker Mohammed Salahat, arrested by Palestinian Authority security services and kept in custody for more than three weeks.
The PA also repeatedly detained freelance journalist Khalid Amayreh after he began reporting about torture in Palestinian Authority prison. He was placed in solitary confinement part of the time and was forced to sleep next to a toilet.
Human Rights Watch said that although PA leaders may not have specifically ordered the violence against journalists, “The utter failure of the PA leadership to address the prevailing culture of impunity for such abuses suggests that they reflect government policy.
Last year, reporters covering protests in Gaza complained they were harassed and physically assaulted by Hamas.
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