In a move that has angered Palestinian human rights organizations and journalists, the Palestinian Authority (PA) on April 17 approved a new law that restricts freedom of expression and the media. The move is seen by Palestinians in the context of the PA’s effort to silence its critics and suppress public freedoms. Palestinian journalists call it a declaration of war on the media.
Ironically, the approval of the new law, known as the Palestinian Cyber Crime Law, comes in the wake of the PA and its supporters continuing falsely to accuse Israel of targeting Palestinian journalists. The accusations refer to the death of two journalists in the Gaza Strip who were shot in recent weeks by Israeli soldiers during violent clashes between Palestinian protesters and the Israel Defense Forces.
The two journalists, Yasser Murtaja and Ahmed Abu Hussein, were not killed because of their work. They were not shot by Israeli troops because of an article they wrote or a photo they took. The two were killed because they chose to be in an area near the border with Israel where thousands of Palestinians were hurling rocks and firebombs at the soldiers. In fact, it later transpired that one of the journalists, Murtaja, was actually a member of the Hamas terror group.
The PA and its leaders and spokesmen have since been waging a smear campaign against Israel, accusing it of deliberately targeting Palestinian journalists in a bid to “stop them from reporting the truth.” This is nothing but another blood libel designed to delegitimize Israel and demonize Jews.