A new report has documented “Israeli control over the Palestinian ICT infrastructure in the West Bank and Gaza and its impact on the digital rights of the Palestinian people” – a form of “digital occupation of the Palestinian telecommunications sector”.
The report – “Connection Interrupted” – has been published by 7amleh – the Arab Centre for the Advancement of Social Media.
According to 7amleh, since Israel’s military occupation of the Palestinian territories began in 1967, the Israeli authorities “took complete control of the ICT infrastructure and sector in the West Bank and Gaza, impeding development and blocking the establishment of an independent network”.
This also made “Palestinians entirely dependent on the Israeli occupation authorities”, states the report.
7amleh noted that Israel’s measures are “in defiance of the Oslo Accords, which stipulate that Israel must gradually transfer control over the ICT sector to the Palestinians, Israel has tightened its control over the Palestinian ICT infrastructure, resulting in severe violations of Palestinian digital rights.”
According to the report, “this digital occupation has resulted in the creation of a severe ICT gap between Palestinians and the rest of the world, violating several human rights including their right to access economic markets.”
“Additionally, Israel’s continuous control over the ICT infrastructure has enabled Israel to monitor all Palestinian online activity, violating their right to privacy and in many cases cooperating with social media companies to censor Palestinians online, a violation of their right to freedom of expression.”
The report also stresses the obligations of third-party states “to ensure that their policies do not recognise or support the illegal Israeli occupation and its practices and instead ensure that Israel abides by their international obligations as an occupying power.”
7amleh urges “an independent Palestinian ICT sector, including access to infrastructure and frequency spectrums, an immediate stop to illegal surveillance and monitoring of the Palestinian population, and for Israel to adhere to its responsibilities and duties as an occupying power.”