Sunday, January 15, 2017

  • Sunday, January 15, 2017
  • Elder of Ziyon
For the past week, the big story in Palestinian media has not been the Paris conference. It hasn't been the US possibly moving the embassy to Jerusalem.

No, the top story has been the shortage of electricity in Gaza.

Gazans have been protesting by blaming Hamas for the shortage. (Not Israel.) Hamas has responded by violently suppressing demonstrations.



And attacking reporters.
On Thursday evening, an Associated Press reporter covering a demonstration in the northern Gaza Strip was detained by plainclothes Hamas security men and forced at gunpoint to turn over his mobile phones to them. The men stuck a pistol in his chest and verbally threatened the reporter until he agreed to give them the phones.
In addition an AFP photographer  was badly beaten to the head by uniformed policemen required medical care after he had refused to give up his camera. The  memory card of his camera was confiscated and he was placed under arrest.
Hamas responded with its own manufactured protests, where they blame Fatah (not Israel!) for the power shortage. In these rallies, they burn photos of Mahmoud Abbas and other top PA officials.


PA and Fatah officials lashed out at this, saying that burning photos of Abbas is a "crime" that "excceds all red lines."

And Hamas is not the only side that attacks reporters. The Palestinian Authority is just as ruthless against any reporters who might write about endemic corruption there:

No journalists in Gaza — no matter how senior — would even think of criticizing the leaders of Hamas, and in the Palestinian Authority (PA), criticism of any kind against President Mahmoud Abbas, or exposure of corruption in the PA, could result in the journalist’s arrest.

“We all known there’s terrible corruption in the PA,” a senior veteran journalist from Ramallah, the seat of the PA in the West Bank, told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity. “We know hundreds of stories about senior PA officials and about Abbas’ sons, but we can’t publish them or even talk openly about them.”

“We saw PLO activists who arrived [in the West Bank and Gaza] from Libya and Tunisia [in the 1990s] with only the clothes on their backs, and a few months after the PA was established they were already driving around in Mercedes cars, wearing Italian suits and building ostentatious villas,” the journalist claimed. “To this day they are all rich, taken care of and no one can say a word or even ask where such wealth came from.”

European Union states that donate hundreds of millions of dollars in humanitarian aid to the PA have tried to establish supervisory mechanisms over the funds they provide, but according to Palestinian journalists who spoke with Al-Monitor, the top PA levels were more devious than all the oversight mechanisms, and they found loopholes through which to funnel some of the money into their own pockets.

The criticism discussed behind closed doors does not relate only to past malfeasance. A senior journalist who works for an Arabic language media outlet notes in a conversation with Al-Monitor that the sons of the Palestinian president are also mentioned among those making a fortune out of their family connection to Abbas.

The journalist said that reporters have learned not to ask “unnecessary” questions, lest they lose their jobs, at best, or are sent to jail in a worst-case scenario. The media learned the limits of what was permissible and what was not in the affair of Mahmad Hadifa, an independent journalist who published a series of investigative reports about the goings on in the Palestinian Ministry of Economy in Ramallah. Hadifa was arrested by Palestinian security forces after the stories ran and was threatened, even though no one claimed his reports were false. 
The international community turns a blind eye to all of this, because criticizing the Palestinian leadership is viewed as watering down criticism of Israel. So Palestinian leaders, knowing that no one will demand that they act responsibly towards their critics or to reduce corruption, can freely act as they please, confident that there will be no international conferences on their own corruption and crimes.




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