Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.

There is No Freedom of Expression for Palestinians

February 19, 2013 1:26 am 4 comments

Mahmoud Abbas. Photo: World Economic Forum.

This article was originally published by the Gatestone Institute

In another story the Western media apparently refuses to cover, any Palestinian who dares to criticize Hamas or the Palestinian Authority (PA) risks being arrested or summoned for interrogation.

Palestinian journalists are now hoping to bring this to the attention of U.S. President Barack Obama when he meets with PA President Mahmoud Abbas next month.

The journalists say they want United States and the rest of the world to know that the crackdown on freedom of expression in both the West Bank and Gaza Strip is designed to hide the fact that Palestinians are governed by two repressive regimes that have no respect for human rights and democracy.

Over the past few weeks, several Palestinian journalists have been arrested in the West Bank and Gaza Strip for reportedly criticizing the policies and leaders of the PA and Hamas.

But this most recent assault on freedom of expression does not seem to bother the Western countries that fund the PA, or Hamas supporters from all around the world.

As far as many Western governments and journalists are concerned, physical assaults on Palestinian reporters in the Gaza Strip are fine as long as they are not perpetrated by Israel.

The PA crackdown on Palestinian journalists in the West Bank is also fine with the West as long as Israel is not involved.

Most of the assaults against journalists took place in the Gaza Strip, where Hamas continues to display zero tolerance towards critics or anyone who dares to say something “controversial.”

In the past few weeks, at least 16 journalists from the Gaza Strip were arrested or summoned for interrogation by Hamas authorities in the context of a campaign aimed at intimidating the local media.

Some of the journalists were released only after Hamas forced them to sign a document stating that they would refrain from attending press conferences or covering various activities unless they obtained permission in advance.

The Hamas authorities have also raided the homes of several journalists, confiscating their computers and notebooks.

In some instances, Hamas’s security forces have forced journalists to provide them with their passwords and usernames in order to check their emails.

The following is a list of the names of journalists from the Gaza Strip who have been arrested or interrogated by Hamas in recent weeks: Ashraf Abu Khwaisan, Ala Dawaheed, Amru Dawaheed, Munir al-Munairawi, Mustafa Migdad, Majdi Islim, Juma’ah Abu Shomar, Hisham al-Ju’ub, Muayad Assali, Shadi Shaheen, Muhanad al-Kahlout, Esam Madi, Hussein Abdel Jawwad, Abdel Karim Hijji and Yusef Hammad.

Three other journalists, Khaled Thabet, Mohamed Za’anin and Muthana al-Najjar, were beaten by Hamas policemen and thugs while covering various activities in the Gaza Strip.

In the West Bank, the situation has not been any better for Palestinian journalists and political activists.

Just last week, a PA court sentenced 26-year-old Anas Said Awwad to one year in prison for “insulting” Abbas on Facebook.

Awwad was found guilty of depicting Abbas as a member of the Real Madrid soccer team.

The man was convicted on the basis of a 50-year-old Jordanian law that bans “extending one’s tongue” against the Jordanian monarch.

The PA often uses this law to punish anyone who posts comments against Abbas or other leaders in Ramallah.

This was not the first time that the PA has gone after Palestinians who use Facebook to express their views.

At least three other Palestinians, Nizar Banat, Mamdouh Hamamreh and Jihad Harb, have been targeted by Abbas’s security forces for posting critical comments on Facebook.

Last week, PA security forces also arrested two journalists, Ala al-Titi and Mohamed Awad.

Safad Nazzal, a Palestinian female activist who criticized the PA for failing to pay more attention to the case of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, has also been arrested by PA security forces in the West Bank.

It now remains to be seen whether Obama and other Western leaders and government officials, as well as human rights groups, will pay attention to the ongoing attempt to silence Palestinian journalists and political activists. Failure to do so will only encourage Hamas and the PA to continue their assaults on freedom of expression.

This article was originally published by the Gatestone Institute. Khaled Abu Toameh, an Israeli Arab, is a veteran award-winning journalist who has been covering Palestinian affairs for nearly three decades, including for the Jerusalem Post since 2002.


  • I don’t lament this state affairs – I applaud it. And the reason why I applaud it is because It possibly leaves Israel free to ban the reporting of certain military actions against the PA and Hamas. If the latter feels that they do not have to live transparently before the world, neither should Israel have to allow all its defensive actions to be so transparent. What is good for the goose is good for the gander.

  • Please send this article to Archbishop Tutu and the UNHRC.
    I wonder what they would have to say.

    Tutu is one of the worst Jew haters, who would like to see Israel disappear.
    He is spreading BDS against Israel, all over the world.

    If those unfortunate journalists would be allowed to tell the truth, the world would see Israel ina totally different light.

    • Shmuel Mendelsohn

      TYhere is no reason to send this to Archbishop Tutu or the UNHRC – do you think that they are unaware of the situation. It really is a pity that the poor Palestinians have to suffer in order to allow the piowers that be to carry out their anti-Israel (read anti-Semitic) agenda.

  • The irony of this article is that most of the jounralists being arrested and banned are critical of the PA and Hamas as not being anti-Israel and anti-Jewish enough. While freedom of expression is a value we hold dearly in America, be careful what you ask for.

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition. Comments written in all caps will be deleted.

Current day month ye@r *


  • Arts and Culture Israel Jerry Seinfeld to Make Comedy Debut in Israel

    Jerry Seinfeld to Make Comedy Debut in Israel – Famed Jewish-American comedian and actor Jerry Seinfeld is slated to make his comedic debut in Israel later this year. Seinfeld, who was born in Brooklyn to Jewish parents from the Ukraine and Syria, will perform in Tel Aviv’s Mitvtachim Menorah Arena on Dec. 19 as part of a world tour. The comedian is most known for his enormously popular NBC sitcom Seinfeld, which ran from 1989-1998 and is widely considered one of the greatest TV series of all time. […]

    Read more →
  • Food Israel New Video Shows American Kids Reviewing Israeli Food After Tasting Dishes for First Time (VIDEO)

    New Video Shows American Kids Reviewing Israeli Food After Tasting Dishes for First Time (VIDEO)

    A new video circulating online shows eight American children reacting — mostly positively — to their first taste of the famed Israeli eggplant salad/dip, known in Hebrew as “salat hatzilim” and in other parts of the Levant as baba ganoush. The clip, created by, features the youngsters trying a variety of exotic dishes from other countries as well, such as Hawaiian poi, Colombian pork belly and Russian borscht. The Israeli delicacies served include schnitzel, slices of pita, hummus and the baba ganoush salad. “If someone […]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Features Pioneers/Philanthropists ‘Start-Up Nation’ Israel to Host Forbes Magazine Young Entrepreneurs Summit

    ‘Start-Up Nation’ Israel to Host Forbes Magazine Young Entrepreneurs Summit – Forbes magazine announced Tuesday that it will host its Under 30 EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) Summit in Israel for the first time in April 2016. The conference is expected to bring together some 600 young entrepreneurs, with 200 from Europe, 200 from the U.S., and 200 from Israel. The summit has been hosted in Philadelphia for the past two years. It will include presentations, speeches, a pitch competition, and cultural immersion opportunities in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Beliefs and concepts What’s That Huge White Bridal Dress Floating Over the Tower of David?

    What’s That Huge White Bridal Dress Floating Over the Tower of David? –  “What’s that huge white bridal dress floating over the Tower of David?” That’s what visitors to Jerusalem’s Old City asked last week. The wedding gown, created by leading Israeli artist Motti Mizrachi, is part of the 2nd Jerusalem Biennale for Contemporary Jewish Art, an event that blew into town as the Sukkot holiday got underway. Mizrachi, who lives and works in Tel Aviv, created the dress that floats majestically over the Tower of David, the main exhibition site […]

    Read more →
  • Features Opinion The Top 10 Places to Visit in Israel

    The Top 10 Places to Visit in Israel

    Israel is a holiday destination on many travelers’ bucket lists. No matter the style of holiday you are after, Israel has the answer. Whether you prefer to relax by the beach, hike up mountains in the desert, visit religious and historical sites, eat your way through the country or just enjoy some retail therapy, your journey through Israel will be one to remember. While there are obviously so many things to see and do, here is a list of 10 of […]

    Read more →
  • Pioneers/Philanthropists US & Canada Jewish American Fashion Mogul Ralph Lauren to Step Down as CEO

    Jewish American Fashion Mogul Ralph Lauren to Step Down as CEO – Jewish American fashion mogul Ralph Lauren announced his plan to step down as chief executive officer of the renowned fashion brand. The head of Gap Inc’s Old Navy brand will take over the position. The 75-year-old Lauren, who founded Ralph Lauren Corp. in 1967, will continue to serve as executive chairman and will continue leading the fashion house’s design team, according to a statement by the company. After the announcement, Ralph Lauren shares rose 3.79 percent while Gap shares […]

    Read more →
  • Featured Sports US & Canada Jewish Boxer Dustin ‘White Tiger’ Fleischer Scores Fourth Knockout Victory

    Jewish Boxer Dustin ‘White Tiger’ Fleischer Scores Fourth Knockout Victory

    Jewish boxer Dustin Fleischer, who said his quest is to become the first world champion descended from a Holocaust survivor, stayed unbeaten with a first-round knockout. Fleischer, nicknamed “The White Tiger,” moved to 4-0 with the defeat of Ira Frank on Saturday night in Beach Haven, New Jersey, near his home, he reported after the fight on his Facebook page. The 26-year-old welterweight has won all his bouts by knockout. Read full story at JTA.

    Read more →
  • Featured Israel Pioneers/Philanthropists Meet Israel’s Santa Claus, the Trustee Tasked With Handing Out Leona Helmsley’s Billions (INTERVIEW)

    Meet Israel’s Santa Claus, the Trustee Tasked With Handing Out Leona Helmsley’s Billions (INTERVIEW)

    Renowned New York attorney Sandor (Sandy) Frankel, one of four trustees of the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust, was in Israel earlier this month to look at additional philanthropic options and to observe the progress of those endeavors already funded – to the tune of multi-millions. Frankel, who recently joined the prestigious Park Avenue law firm Otterbourg P.C., met with Israeli politicians and other bigwigs to get a sense from them about which projects in the country […]

    Read more →