Israeli-Occupied Territories and Palestinian Authority * | Freedom House

Freedom of the Press

Israeli-Occupied Territories and Palestinian Authority *

Israeli-Occupied Territories and Palestinian Authority *

Freedom of the Press 2004

2004 Scores

Press Status

Not Free

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

86

Political Environment
(0 = best, 40 = worst)

37

Economic Environment
(0 = best, 30 = worst)

20

While journalists continue to cover events in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, international press freedom groups criticized Israel in 2003 for refusing journalists access to conflict zones and for harassing, and in some cases shooting, reporters. In April, Israeli troops shot and killed Nazih Darwazeh, an Associated Press Television News cameraman filming clashes in the West Bank city of Nablus. In May, James Miller, a British cameraman, was shot in apparent crossfire between Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) troops and Palestinian gunmen in Gaza, and later died of his injuries. He was filming a documentary about arms smuggling in the Rafah refugee camp. The same month, British photojournalist Tom Hurndall was shot in the head by IDF troops as they battled gunmen in the West Bank. In June the International Press Institute released its annual "Intifadah Report," which stated that from September 2000 through May 2003, Israelis were responsible for 82.9 percent of the 310 recorded press freedom violations in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The figures included 10 people killed and 116 injured. The IDF denied that it targeted journalists, saying that reporters covering dangerous clashes risk being harmed unintentionally. In January, the IDF closed two TV stations and one radio station in Hebron during anti-terror operations; since September 2000, the IDF has targeted Palestinian media that spread propaganda and incite violence.

Under a 1995 Palestinian press law, journalists may be fined and jailed and newspapers closed for publishing "secret information" on Palestinian security forces or news that might harm national unity or incite violence. However, another press law, also signed in 1995, stipulates that Palestinian intelligence services do not reserve the right to interrogate, detain, or arrest journalists on the basis of their work. Nevertheless, arbitrary arrests, threats, and the physical abuse of journalists critical of the Palestinian Authority (PA) are routine. Official Palestinian radio and television are government mouthpieces. Journalists covering the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and Palestinian political affairs face harassment by the PA. Officials have threatened journalists who file stories deemed unfavorable. PA-affiliated militias have also warned Israeli journalists to stay out of Palestinian areas. International press freedom groups have called on the PA to cease harassment of journalists. In January, Palestinian intelligence agents raided Al Jazeera TV's Gaza bureau without a warrant, detaining a correspondent. In September, five armed men saying they were members of Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade raided the Arabiya satellite TV bureau in Ramallah, smashing equipment and threatening to kill workers. The station had received threats over what was perceived to be biased reporting in favor of Israel.