As local and international criticism continued to mount against the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority’s (PA) tightening noose on freedoms of expression in the occupied West Bank, seven Palestinian journalists imprisoned by the PA have begun a hunger strike after being detained under the controversial Cyber Crimes Law, approved by PA’s President Mahmoud Abbas last month.
Palestinian journalists Mamduh Hamamra, a correspondent for Al-Quds News, Al-Aqsa TV correspondent Tariq Abu Zeid, and freelance journalist Qutaiba Qassem all declared a hunger strike immediately after their detentions were extended by up to 15 days on Thursday, according to a statement released by Omar Nazzal, a member of the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate and former prisoner of Israel.
Issam Abdin, a lawyer and head of advocacy at Palestinian NGO al-Haq, confirmed that four more Palestinian journalists -Al-Quds News correspondent Ahmad Halayqa, Shehab News Agency correspondent Amer Abu Arafa, and reporters Islam Salim and Thaer al-Fakhouri – had declared a hunger strike on Thursday to protest their detention.
— Ma'an News Agency (@MaanNewsAgency) August 9, 2017
All seven of the journalists reportedly work for media outlets that were among 30 sites blocked by the PA in June – all of which were reportedly affiliated with the Hamas movement, the ruling party in the besieged Gaza Strip which has been embroiled in a bitter ten-year rivalry with the Fatah-led PA, or Abbas’ longtime political rival, Muhammad Dahlan.
While the move to block the websites in the West Bank was condemned at the time as an unprecedented violation of press freedoms in the Palestinian territory, Abbas took the crackdown on media to another level last month by passing the Cyber Crimes Law by presidential decree.
(MAAN, PC, Social Media)