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Palestine: How the pandemic is impacting media freedoms (Demo)

This statement was originally published on on 15 July 2020.

The Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA) issued its report for the first half of the current year 2020 about the conditions of media freedom in Palestine, within the project “A Step Forward towards Promoting Freedom of Expression in Palestine”, funded by the European Union.

The report showed that the first half of the year 2020 witnessed a decrease in the total number of violations against media freedoms compared to what they were during the same period of the previous year, especially the Palestinian violations that decreased during the first half of 2020 to about 41% than what they were in the first half of 2019.

MADA Center monitored a total of 237 violations during the first half of 2020, 125 of which were committed by the Israeli occupation, while Facebook committed 64 violations, and 47 violations were committed by different Palestinian authorities in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. It is worth mentioning that the first half of the previous year (2019) witnessed a total of 330 violations committed by the three parties previously mentioned.

The attacks during the first half of 2020 affected a total of 130 journalists, 118 male journalists and 12 female journalists.

The report attributed the overall decline in the number of violations to three main reasons: the sharp decline in the number of Palestinian violations, the near-total paralysis that prevailed in the Palestinian territories due to the closure imposed as part of the measures to combat the Covid-19 epidemic, and finally peaceful Return Marches in Gaza, which have been witnessing massive attacks against the media and journalists by the occupation forces, have stopped. It should be mentioned that the rate of occurrence of Israeli violations did not decrease, but rather increased, if the closure period due to Covid-19 is taken into account.

A comparison between the two halves of the years 2019 and 2020 shows significant changes in the distribution map of these violations, most notably a clear decline in Palestinian violations, offset by a relative rise in Israeli violations and Facebook violations, where the number of the incidents stemming from the Israeli occupation of the total recorded violations increased from 45% to 53% in the first half of the year 2020, as Facebook violations increased by 20% to 27%, while Palestinian violations decreased from 35% to 20%.

The report indicates that most of the Israeli attacks took place in the West Bank (121 of them), and that they came under 11 types, but they are centered around one goal – keeping the media out of the whereabouts of the event, obfuscating what is going on, and restricting what is presented to the public opinion to the Israeli narrative. It should be noted that the physical attacks amounted to 38, while 47 incidents of direct prevention of coverage by the occupation forces were recorded.

In addition to the Israeli occupation forces, Facebook has continued to commit further violations. MADA has reported in its semi-annual report that the Facebook administration has closed or suspended accounts and personal pages of 64 journalists in connection with their content, without providing an explanation or a clarification.

The number of Palestinian violations recorded in the first six months of this year reached 47, the largest part of which occurred in the Gaza Strip (60%), compared to 40% in the West Bank.

Read the report.

The post Palestine: How the pandemic is impacting media freedoms appeared first on IFEX.


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