It was surprising to see the Globe and Mail on May 3 (see image at right) refer to Hamas-controlled Gaza as an area where the “press is free”. Instead, Hamas continually arrests and imprisons journalists, confiscates media equipment, censors criticism, and intimidates the press. This helps explain why there are no foreign correspondents permanently based in Gaza, the last of whom was the BBC’s Alan Johnston who was kidnapped by Palestinian terrorists in 2007 and was eventually freed after spending four months in captivity.
Sadly, much of the same exists in the Palestinian Authority-controlled West Bank where journalists critical of Mahmoud Abbas and other Palestinian officials are charged with slander and face imprisonment of up to two years in jail. Others have their news bureau’s raided and website’s blocked.
According to this Globe report: “the Middle East remains one of the most repressive regions in the world, with nearly 71 per cent of people living in countries considered by Freedom House as “not free.” As we all know, there are exceptions to every rule. Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East, stands out as the only country in the region to be ranked as “free,” largely because the Jewish state possesses the most vibrant, transparent, and open free press in the Mideast. The only place in the region where journalists can work from with their security guaranteed and without being censored or intimidated. It’s for this reason that the Globe’s Mideast correspondent, Patrick Martin, is based out of Jerusalem, not Gaza, Damascus, or Iran.