A Palestinian newspaper editor recently fled Ramallah together with his wife and children for one of the Gulf countries after receiving death threats from the Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, the armed wing of Fatah. Before leaving, he received a letter with a bullet and a note: “Your fate will be like that of Nabil Amr,” referring to the Palestinian legislator who was shot and seriously wounded several weeks ago in Ramallah after he appeared on an Arab television station and criticized Arafat’s performance and the lack of democracy and transparency in the Palestinian Authority. The verbal and physical intimidation of Palestinian journalists, especially those who dare to report on issues that reflect negatively on Arafat and the Palestinian Authority, has almost become accepted practice in the West Bank and Gaza.
The Palestinian Journalists Association, a body controlled by Arafat loyalists, has issued a directive banning Palestinian journalists from covering the internal strife. The majority of Palestinian journalists are complying with the new regulations. Many reporters working for Al-Jazeera and the foreign media live in Ramallah and Gaza City and are subjected to the same threats, so have begun toeing the line. Perhaps the international community doesn’t even know that the Palestinian media is entirely controlled by Arafat and that many journalists are under threat. (Access/Middle East)