Journalists Protest PA Media Crackdown

YERUSHALAYIM -

Palestinian journalists were protesting a crackdown by the Palestinian Authority on dozens of websites, a move they allege was aimed at repressing criticism of the government.

A PA court ordered the shutdown of 49 media outlets last week, on the grounds that they posed threats to “national security and peace.”

International press freedom group Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said the order affects news sites and social platforms with millions of followers, such as the Quds Network.

A lawyer for the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate, Alaa Freijat, was quoted by AFP as saying the court decision, which came at the request of the attorney general, was being appealed.

Mohammed al-Laham of the journalists’ union said the shutdown was peremptory, that neither the PA’s information ministry nor the syndicate had been consulted in advance.

The PA Magistrate’s Court is scheduled on Thursday to examine several appeals filed against the decision.

Most of the websites included in the ban are affiliated with Hamas and Mohammed Dahlan, a former PA senior official and rival of Mahmoud Abbas. Dahlan, who has been living in the United Arab Emirates for the past eight years, is believed to be funding several websites that regularly criticize Abbas and the PA and accuse them of financial and administrative corruption.