In the West Bank, journalists are the victims of press freedom violations by both the Palestinian Authority and the Israeli occupation forces. In the Gaza Strip, Israeli military assaults and Hamas policies threaten the press. In 2022, two female journalists were killed by Israeli law enforcement, including Al Jazeera reporter Shireen Abu Akleh. These crimes remain unpunished.
Palestine TV and the Wafa news agency are affiliated with the Palestinian Authority or Fatah, which control their content. There are also reputable independent media such as Watan TV and Ajyal Radio. In the Gaza Strip, there are Hamas-affiliated media such as the Shehab News agency and the Al-Aqsa Media Network.
The Gaza Strip is a particularly inhospitable territory for press freedom. Hamas and the Islamic Jihad harass and obstruct journalists suspected of collaborating with Israel. In the West Bank, critical websites are shut down by the Palestinian Authority, while journalists are arrested and interrogated in order to put pressure on the political opposition.
The Palestinian Authority’s basic law provides for freedom of the press and opinion but, in practice, these freedoms clash with the government’s real interests. The cybercrime law enacted by President Mahmoud Abbas in July 2017 limits both freedom of expression and freedom of the press. In Gaza, the Legislative Council has not drafted new laws since 2007.
In the Gaza Strip, the economic situation has a major impact on independent and semi-independent media outlets. Most of them are financially unstable. The Gaza government provides no help to independent journalists.
Conservative religious beliefs and practices restrict the work of journalists. These restrictions are particularly evident in the case of women journalists, who are victims of gender discrimination. They are, for example, more often denied access to certain areas than their male colleagues.
The conflict with Israel has a big impact on Palestinian journalists, and covering protests is extremely dangerous. Journalists are subjected to arrests, violence, destruction of equipment, legal proceedings and denial of accreditation. They have sustained serious injuries when Israeli soldiers use live rounds to disperse protesters.