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PA court orders to block 57 news websites and Facebook pages

Headline: “A mass blocking of websites, and the Palestinian [PA] government asks to reexamine the decision”

“The Ramallah Magistrate Court recently decided to accede to the [PA] attorney general’s request to block 59 websites and Facebook pages, including [the Israeli-Arab website] Arab 48…

The website Arab 48 learned that tomorrow (Tuesday) [Oct. 22, 2019] the independent council for human rights will submit an official objection to the decision to block the websites…

The [PA] prosecutor’s office claimed that the reason for the blocking is that the sites attack and insult prominent figures in the PA, and publish online expressions, pictures, and articles that could threaten national security and civil peace, violate public order, harm public ethics, and stir up Palestinian public opinion…

It should be noted that this decision remains limited in terms of its media effectiveness, especially in the age of social media and the development of search engines and smart cellular devices. It also remains geographically limited, since it is not in force in the Gaza Strip and the area of occupied Jerusalem.

The Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate said that the decision of the Ramallah Magistrate Court, which was leaked today to a number of media outlets, is tantamount to a massacre of freedom of thought and expression and of the Palestinian media outlets. It said that this is a black day in the history of Palestinian journalism.

The syndicate emphasized that this legal decision – which is based on Decision with Legal Validity No. 10 of 2018 Regarding Cyber Crimes – confirms the concerns that the syndicate has expressed for a long time, because this law is a sword laid on the journalists’ necks. It added that the court’s decision constitutes usage of this sword… and contradicts [PA] Prime Minister Dr. Muhammad Shtayyeh’s commitments to protect the freedoms of the press

(The article includes a document with the names of the 59 websites that were blocked – removing duplicates leaves the total number at 50. The list includes the following names –Ed.)

1. Leave Us Alone (i.e., a Facebook page opposing PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas)

2. Ultra Palestine

3. Tubas 23

5. Pal News news agency

6. Metras

8. Salata

9. Palestine Post

16. New Pal 21

17. Ps 24

18. Al-Majd (i.e., Hamas-associated site on security affairs)

19. Arab 48 website (i.e., Israeli-Arab website associated with the Balad political party)

21. [PA Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates] Riyad Al-Malki Does Not Represent Me

24. Fatah Movement – the Democratic Reform Movement (i.e., website apparently associated with exiled Fatah leader Muhammad Dahlan)

25. Amad (i.e., independent Palestinian news website associated with Dahlan)

27. Civilians Against Corruption

29. No Censorship (i.e., Facebook page opposing the PA)

30. Palestine 27

31. Salata (repeat of number 8 –Ed.)

34. Arise and Expose Their Shame (i.e., Facebook page opposing senior PA and Fatah officials)

35. Mahmoud Abbas Does Not Represent Me

36. Mattabat

39. Watan News (i.e., independent Palestinian news agency)

41. Palestine 27 (repeat of number 30 –Ed.)

45. Shehab news agency (i.e., associated with Hamas)

47. Palestine Online

49. Channel Al-Kofiya (i.e., website and satellite TV channel associated with Muhammad Dahlan)

51. Al-Risalah Net (i.e., associated with Hamas)

54. Ps 24

55. Ultra Palestin (sic.; repeat of number 2 –Ed.)

59. Amad (repeat of number 25 –Ed.)”