The Associated Press succumbed to pressure from the Palestinian Authority to fire a journalist because he dared to protest the PA’s detention and beating of another reporter.
“I have been working for AP for 20 years,” said Eyad Hamad, a veteran Palestinian cameraman. “I covered many events in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and a number of Arab countries. The decision came as a surprise to me and my colleagues.”
Hamad, along with several other Palestinian journalists, protested the arrest and beating of another Palestinian journalist who is still imprisoned. Hamad was threatened by PA officials who said they would make sure he lost his job — which he eventually did.
The Palestinian Journalists Syndicate denounced Hamad’s “arbitrary dismissal” and called on the AP to reverse its “unfair and unjust decision.”
The PA denied that it complained against Hamad. The AP had no comment.
Hamad, 63, said he has also received several death threats.
“Not only did they cut off my livelihood and source of income; today, they put my life in danger, starting from the president and on down to the youngest officer in the PA security services,” he said. “They are threatening me and inciting against me. It is clear that there is an agenda to silence every free voice.”
Palestinian journalists have long accused the PA of using an iron fist to silence any criticism of the government. Hamas also routinely persecutes journalists and sometimes jails them in Gaza. There is no viable Palestinian leadership that embraces basic human rights. This is how they control western media and because western media doesn’t want to get shut out, they compromise their supposed high ideals. The PA knows exactly how to manipulate the spineless western media.
“What we’re seeing in Palestine are double standards. We hear about freedom of opinion and expression and that for freedom, the sky is the limit, but we do not see this translated into reality on the ground,” said Palestinian journalist Reem al-Omari.
“The situation for the Palestinian journalist in these circumstances is not easy at all. The Palestinian journalist works in exceptional circumstances and under pressure, especially during the coronavirus pandemic,” she said.
Reporters Without Borders ranked the PA 137 on the 2020 World Press Freedom Index out of the 180 countries or territories. Last year, the PA shut down dozens of Palestinian websites calling them “opposition media.”