Human Rights Watch has accused Abbas’ gov’t of arresting and abusing local journalists and activists critical of PA policies, seen as a violation of media freedom and freedom of speech.
The Palestinian Authority government in the West Bank has blocked 11 news websites associated with their Gaza-based rivals Hamas and other political adversaries critical of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, according to Arabic media reports.
The shutdowns were ordered by the Palestinian Attorney General’s office, with Palestinian media outlets quoting one anonymous official as saying that the sites blocked were in “violation of the rules of publications” which bars the dissemination of alleged fake news and defamation.
The editor of the Jordan-based Amad news website, Hassan Asfour, said in a statement that the sites were blocked over their “bold reporting” on the Palestinian Authority’s “dirty deals.”
Hamas and other Palestinian political factions slammed the move as a violation of media freedom and freedom of speech laws, and media outlets criticized internet providers from allowing the censorship.
Hamas said the move “reflects the dictatorial approach of President Mahmoud Abbas and his authority in dealing with the Palestinian people and its various factions.”
The Palestinian Authority has increasingly stepped up pressure on Hamas since it took control of the Gaza Strip in a violent overthrow of Abbas’ government in 2007.
Human Rights Watch has accused Palestinian authorities of abusing local journalists and activists critical of their policies and of silencing dissent by cracking down on free speech.
Palestinian security forces on Tuesday arrested a youth activist over a Facebook post in which he criticized a senior Palestinian Authority figure for saying that the Western Wall should remain under Israeli sovereignty.
Palestinian officials typically deny or downplay the Jewish connection to Jerusalem’s holy sites.
i24news Staff with agencies
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