Palestinian journalists have once again fallen victim to the continuing power struggle between the Palestinian Authority (PA), which has jurisdiction over parts of the West Bank, and Hamas, the Islamist movement that is in control of the entire Gaza Strip.
Neither the PA nor Hamas is any champion of human rights, especially freedom of the media. The two parties regularly crack down on their critics, including journalists who do not toe the line or dare to report on issues that are deemed as reflecting negatively on the PA or Hamas.
The past few weeks have been particularly tough for Palestinian journalists. In this period, several journalists found themselves behind bars in PA and Hamas prisons, while others were summoned for interrogation and had to spend hours in interrogation rooms facing and detention centers.
To make matters even worse, a new Cyber Crime Law passed by the PA paves the way for legal measures against Facebook and Twitter users who post critical or unflattering comments about President Abbas and his senior officials. Critics say the law is a grave assault on freedom of expression and it will be used as a tool in the hands of Abbas and his henchmen to silence their critics or throw them into prison. In addition, the PA has blocked more than 20 news websites that are affiliated with Hamas and Mohammed Dahlan, an ousted Fatah leader who has long openly challenged Abbas.
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