Israel | Freedom House

Freedom of the Press



Freedom of the Press 2002

2002 Scores

Press Status


Press Freedom Score
(0 = best, 100 = worst)


Political Environment
(0 = best, 40 = worst)


Economic Environment
(0 = best, 30 = worst)


Increasingly fierce Palestinian terror attacks and strong reprisals by Israeli forces made journalism a more dangerous task in 2001. By June, 15 journalists had been shot and wounded by Israeli forces since the beginning of the latest Intifada (uprising) in September 2000, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) reported. In some cases, CPJ claimed journalists were deliberately targeted, a charge the Israeli government denied. Press coverage of security matters is subject to military censorship, though decisions may be appealed. The definition of permissible reporting has expanded. Arabic-language publications are censored more frequently than those in the Hebrew-language. Newspapers are privately owned and freely criticize government policy. The penal code provides punishment for seditious libel and states that truth is not a defense. This law and others criminalizing "insults" of a public person remain on the books but have never been used to prosecute a journalist. Publishing the praise of violence, however, is prohibited under the Counter-terrorism Ordinance. In November 2000, the Israeli Supreme Court lowered the standard by which public speech or publications can be deemed harmful to the "values of public order," including "social cohesion." In November, Israeli troops shot at a team of journalists from a Lebanese television channel as they were reporting on the Lebanese side of the Israeli border. Palestinian journalists who accompanied the foreign press into Israel were denied accreditation renewals that would permit them to cross the border. Several villages on the West Bank were closed to all journalists by Israeli forces. A clearly marked press car carrying American journalists was hit by Israeli fire, Reporters sans Frontieres reported in October. That month, Israeli forces harassed journalists and barred them from covering clashes in the Palestinian village of Beit Rima, CPJ reported. Israeli military authorities ordered field commanders to protect journalists who cover street clashes in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.