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In regards to press freedom, Palestinian journalists face a harsh reality

World Press Freedom Day arrives in Palestine on 3 May this year in the wake of tough times. Palestinian journalists continue to struggle for freedom of expression indifferent to the ongoing attempts at silencing them. This day presents itself as a great opportunity to shed some light on the violations to press freedom faced by journalists and the difficult reality in which they have to carry on their work.

Moussa Rimawi, the general-director of the Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA), stated that the center has monitored 82 violations against media freedoms in Palestine this year so far, marking an increase of 13 violations compared to last year, during which MADA documented 69 violations.

Rimawi also pointed out that the frequency of the violations committed by the Israeli Occupation Forces also increased compared to last year. This year, violations by the IOF included the shooting of photographer Mohamed Alaza, a cameraman for the Palestinian News Network PNN, who was shot in the face, in addition to the detention and arrest of dozens of journalists. Reporters were also subjected to attacks that involved rubber bullets and tear gas bombs.

He added that, while it is necessary to commend the persistence and determination of fellow journalists, especially in Hebron and Jerusalem where most of the Israeli violations took place, MADA also calls on the international community to take a powerful stance on the issue and to hold the aggressors responsible.

“The ongoing Israeli violations must not allow us to forget the reality of media freedoms in the West Bank and Gaza,” said Rimawi, noting that different Palestinian factions had committed 23 violations against journalists since the beginning of this year; most were committed in January in the Gaza strip, which is undergoing a grave media freedoms crisis.

Although Palestinian violations have declined in the past year, the nature of the violations elicits concern. Journalists have been monitored, prosecuted, and sentenced to jail terms for expressing their opinions.
On this day, MADA demands of all factions concerned to take serious steps towards enhancing the right to freedom of opinion and expression in Palestine, and to prohibit all violations against journalists by speeding up the process of enacting a series of media laws in line with international standards.

The most important law to be enacted is the Access to Information law, newly drafted and presented by MADA to the Council of Ministers at the end of last year. MADA also emphasize the importance of ending the Fatah-Hamas division and holding aggressors on media freedoms accountable.

Rimawi, as a representative of MADA, would like to extend the organisation's warmest blessings to Palestinian journalists on this occasion as well as heartfelt condolences to the families of martyred reporters.

Rimawi also congratulates journalists around the world who continue the battle for freedom of opinion and expression, and hopes to celebrate this occasion next year with more significant media freedoms achieved, and without the presence of fellow journalists in Israeli jails.

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