Israel | Freedom House

Freedom of the Press



Freedom of the Press 2003

2003 Scores

Press Status


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


Political Environment
(0 = best, 40 = worst)


Economic Environment
(0 = best, 30 = worst)


Tensions between journalists and Israel's Government Press Office (GPO) increased significantly in 2002, as Palestinian terror attacks and Israeli reprisals intensified. The GPO, citing security concerns, did not renew the credentials of several Palestinian journalists. Press freedom organizations and Western news organizations - which rely heavily on Palestinian crews - demanded the accreditations be reinstated. The GPO declined to renew credentials after some Palestinian militants had posed as journalists in order to carry out attacks inside Israel. Israel also announced it would arrest Palestinians journalists working in Israel without proper documentation. An Arab cameraman working for the Reuters news agency was denied entry into Israel in the summer; the GPO said he lacked proper work documents and denied the move was discriminatory. Israeli trade unions voiced concern during the year that too many foreign cameramen were working in Israel. In December the Interior Ministry ordered the closure of the radical Islamic weekly Sawt al-Haq wa Al-Hurriya, published by the radical wing of the Islamic Movement in Israel. Newspaper and magazine articles on security matters are subject to a military censor, though the scope of permissible reporting is wide. Editors may appeal a censorship decision to a three-member tribunal that includes two civilians. Arabic-language publications are censored more frequently than are Hebrew-language ones. Newspapers are privately owned, and they freely criticize government policy. Broadcast media are run both privately and by the state and reflect a broad range of opinion. [The rating for Israel reflects the state of press freedom within Israel proper, not in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, which is covered in the following report on the Israeli-administered Territories/Palestinian Authority.]