The general attorney of the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah, Mr Ahmad Barak, has ordered to block at least 11 popular Palestinian news websites that are allegedly affiliated with Hamas and Mohamad Dahlan, a previous Fatah member who was fired. The general attorney issued an order to the Internet Service Providers in the occupied West Bank to immediately block these websites.

 

 

7amleh, as a Palestinian digital rights organization, strongly condemns this decision, which is in stark contravention of all international treaties and constitutes a grave violation of Palestinian digital rights. Everybody should have the right to access different websites and sources of information, to form and hold their own ideas and opinions, and thus exercise their right to freedom of expression. (“International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights” art. 19).

This case comes as part of a wave of similar decisions taken throughout the region. Recently, the Egyptian government has blocked tens of local and Arab websites, denying Egyptian citizens their right to access information. This phenomenon is becoming increasingly normalized, and for that reason it is of our utmost concern that local governments continue to block websites due to political disputes.

We at 7amleh see it as our duty to emphasise the danger of this decision and to express our condemnation as it continues to reinforce Palestinian fragmentation between Gaza and the West Bank on a political level. In light of heightened infringements on the right to movement enforced by the occupation that divide and isolate Palestinians, online connection is the last tool of communication that has the ability to preserve Palestinian culture and contribute to a real national Palestinian dialogue.