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 Features Opinion Playwrite Iddo Netanyahu: ‘Hitler Always Talked About Peace’ (INTERVIEW)

    Playwrite Iddo Netanyahu: ‘Hitler Always Talked About Peace’ (INTERVIEW)

    Late Friday night, on November 13, I was headed for bed when an ominous news bulletin flashed across my computer screen – something about a shooting in Paris. It wasn’t long before the “small number” of shootings and casualties began to double and triple and quadruple. The locations of attacks seemed crazily disorganized, and the tweets and videos became more and more horrifying. It was a long night for many stunned observers. We tried to understand what was happening, and […]

    Read more →
  • Israel Theater BDS Gives Belgian-Jewish Actress New Lease on Life in Tel Aviv

    BDS Gives Belgian-Jewish Actress New Lease on Life in Tel Aviv

    In an interview with the Israeli site nrg on Wednesday, Belgian-Jewish stage actress Noemi Schlosser recounted immigrating to Israel after her career in Europe was destroyed by BDS. Schlosser said she had enjoyed success in Belgium and international acclaim until she was targeted by the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement for her pro-Israel stance during Operation Protective Edge — last summer’s war against Hamas in Gaza. She described watching the theaters where she performed go from packed to nearly empty over a short period of […]

    Read more →
  • Israel Sports In Israel for Champions League Soccer Match, Chelsea Manager Says Team Not Worried About Security Situation

    In Israel for Champions League Soccer Match, Chelsea Manager Says Team Not Worried About Security Situation

    The manager of the Chelsea Football Club said on Monday that he is looking forward to playing in Israel this week against Maccabi Tel Aviv, in spite of the security situation, Israeli news site nrg reported. Jose Murinho, who is already in Israel with his team to compete against Maccabi in the Champions League soccer match, was  asked whether he was worried about the current wave of Palestinian violence sweeping the country. “I have no worries at all regarding the security situation, and neither do […]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Opinion In the Middle East, ‘The Tail Wags the Dog’ (REVIEW)

    In the Middle East, ‘The Tail Wags the Dog’ (REVIEW)

    Blaming the West has become the most pervasive method of teaching for many Middle East studies departments, which are becoming the heart of pop-culture academia. Efraim Karsh, a distinguished professor of Middle Eastern studies at Bar-Ilan University and professor emeritus at King’s College London, in his latest book The Tail Wags the Dog: International Politics and the Middle East, dispels this myth. “Britain’s ‘original sin,’ if such was indeed committed, lay not in the breaking up of Middle Eastern unity but […]

    Read more →
  • Features Spirituality/Tradition With Popularity and Sales up, ‘Mensch on a Bench’ Has Much to Smile About

    With Popularity and Sales up, ‘Mensch on a Bench’ Has Much to Smile About – The Mensch on a Bench is so much happier now than he was a year ago. Look carefully and you will notice that, whereas the previous Mensch had a decidedly worried look, this latest version of the popular Hanukkah toy is flashing an exuberant grin. Is the erstwhile Mensch smiling because he expects to be in some 100,000 homes by year’s end? In truth, the change in visage was suggested last year by the “sharks” on ABC’s Shark Tank […]

    Read more →
  • Music US & Canada Adam Sandler Updates Famous ‘Chanukah Song,’ Includes Hulk Hogan, David Beckham and Scarlett Johansson in Latest Version

    Adam Sandler Updates Famous ‘Chanukah Song,’ Includes Hulk Hogan, David Beckham and Scarlett Johansson in Latest Version

    Actor Adam Sandler unveiled a new version of his famous “Chanukah Song” on Saturday, adding a slew of Jewish celebrities to the ditty’s updated lyrics. The comedian — who released the original song about being Jewish during Christmas in 1996 — performed the latest version of the comedic track during the New York Comedy Festival at Carnegie Hall. Marvel Comics creator Stan Lee, actor Jake Gyllenhaal and “the two guys who founded Google” are among the famous Jewish celebrities now in the line up. Sandler also included lyrics about Star Wars‘ Princess […]

    Read more →
  • Music US & Canada Famed Israeli Violinist Itzhak Perlman to Receive Presidential Medal of Freedom

    Famed Israeli Violinist Itzhak Perlman to Receive Presidential Medal of Freedom – Famed Israeli violinist Itzhak Perlman will be among the 17 recipients of America’s Presidential Medal of Freedom next week. He is the fourth Israeli to receive the highest civilian honor in the US. “A native of Israel, he came to the United States at a young age and was introduced to Americans broadly when he appeared on the ‘Ed Sullivan Show’ in 1958. Mr. Perlman made his Carnegie Hall debut in 1963 when he was 18,” a White House […]

    Read more →
  • Features Spirituality/Tradition Don’t Think Israel is a Luxury Destination? Check Out These 6 Spots

    Don’t Think Israel is a Luxury Destination? Check Out These 6 Spots – While Israel is a common destination for cultural and religious pilgrimages, travelers seeking the best hotels, fine dining, and upscale relaxation less often find themselves in the Holy Land. Yet in recent years, the country’s burgeoning tech scene has attracted a business crowd accustomed to ritzy accommodation. Besides, the permanent summer of Tel Aviv and Eilat makes them prime destinations for European vacationers. Israel’s populace managed to tame the swamps and irrigate the desert — so going luxury should […]

    Read more →