The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has condemned the decision by the Palestinian Authority (PA) to close down 11 Palestinian news agencies affiliated with political opponents of the President Mahmoud Abbas.
IFJ joined its affiliate, the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate (PJS), today, in condemning the clamp down saying:
Blocking web sites and arresting journalists with opposing views is a grave breach of the Palestinian government's commitment to press freedom and journalists' fundamental rights.
Last week the PA took the drastic measure of blocking 11 news sites from being accessed in the occupied West Bank including the sites of the Palestinian Information Centre, the Shehab News Agency, the Voice of Fatah and others.
Even though all banned sites belonged to the critics of the Palestinian government, the PA denied its decision was politically motivated. The sites were blocked due to "a number of pending cases for reporting false information and being unethical," PA officials said according to Ma'an News Agency.
Media groups strongly disagree with the PA and say that the clampdown is "a grave violation of the Palestinian fundamental rights."
It undermines the ability of the citizens to access information and hear different views
said the PJS, while calling for the immediate lifting of the ban.
A number of journalists were arrested, without charge, following the clampdown including Dhaher Alshamaly, who had written an opinion piece which was critical of Abbas.
IFJ President Philippe Leruth condemned the ban and called on the PA to lift the sanction immediately and to release "our colleague Dhaher Alshamaly".