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- The new law, known as the Palestinian Cyber Crime Law, comes in the wake of the PA and its supporters continuing falsely to accuse Israel of targeting Palestinian journalists. The PA leadership’s goal is to ensure that leaders are immune from journalistic critique.
- Now journalists and Palestinian human rights organizations will not be able to say that the crackdown on public freedoms and freedom of the media is illegal.
- The silence of the international community and human rights groups allows Mahmoud Abbas and his allies to get away with assaults on public freedoms and move forward towards creating a dictatorial regime for the Palestinians — one funded with American and European taxpayers' money.
- The last thing the Middle East needs is another repressive Arab regime. It is also the last thing the Palestinians want.
In a move that has angered Palestinian human rights organizations and journalists, the Palestinian Authority (PA) on April 17 approved a new law that restricts freedom of expression and the media. The move is seen by Palestinians in the context of the PA’s effort to silence its critics and suppress public freedoms. Palestinian journalists call it a declaration of war on the media.
Ironically, the approval of the new law, known as the Palestinian Cyber Crime Law, comes in the wake of the PA and its supporters continuing falsely to accuse Israel of targeting Palestinian journalists. The accusations refer to the death of two journalists in the Gaza Strip who were shot in recent weeks by Israeli soldiers during violent clashes between Palestinian protesters and the Israel Defense Forces.
The two journalists, Yasser Murtaja and Ahmed Abu Hussein, were not killed because of their work. They were not shot by Israeli troops because of an article they wrote or a photo they took. The two were killed because they chose to be in an area near the border with Israel where thousands of Palestinians were hurling rocks and firebombs at the soldiers. In fact, it later transpired that one of the journalists, Murtaja, was actually a member of the Hamas terror group.
The PA and its leaders and spokesmen have since been waging a smear campaign against Israel, accusing it of deliberately targeting Palestinian journalists in a bid to „stop them from reporting the truth.” This is nothing but another blood libel designed to delegitimize Israel and demonize Jews.
There is no Israeli policy of targeting journalists and there never was one. Not Palestinian journalists and not foreign journalists. If such a policy existed, scores of journalists would have been killed or injured while covering the Hamas-sponsored mass demonstrations near the border with Israel during the past six weeks. If such a policy existed, scores of journalists would have been killed or injured while covering clashes between IDF soldiers and Palestinian protesters in the West Bank in recent weeks and months.
Journalists who willingly and knowingly enter a combat zone cannot complain if they are hurt. A cameraman who stands behind stone-throwers has no right to claim that he or she was deliberately targeted by the Israeli army or police.
It is true that a handful of Palestinian „journalists” have been arrested by the Israeli authorities in the West Bank in the past few years. However, their arrests had nothing to do with their work in the field of journalism. Instead, they were arrested for their affiliation with Palestinian terror groups such as Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.
Here, it is worth noting that the PA security forces in the West Bank have been arresting journalists — not only because of their writings, but also because of their affiliation with Hamas and other Palestinian terror groups.
In recent months, at least five journalists have been arrested by the PA: Islam Salem, Mustafa Sabri, Hazem Nasser, Ala' Ribi, and Emad Abu Awwad. Another 8 journalists were summoned for interrogation because of their postings on social media: Anan Ejawi, Rami Samarah, Ayat Abdullah, Mada Shalbak, Naela Khalil, Musa’b Kafisheh, Rula Sarhan, and Tareq Abu Zeid.