GAZA CITY (Dispatches) – Messaging app WhatsApp has blocked the accounts of dozens of Palestinian journalists following this month’s brutal aggression by the Zionist regime against the Gaza Strip, reporters said.
Shortly after a ceasefire went into effect at 2:00 am on Friday (2300 GMT Thursday) ending 11 days of deadly conflict, two journalists in AFP’s Gaza City bureau received notices from WhatsApp in Arabic informing them their accounts had been blocked.
Other journalists, in al-Quds and the occupied West Bank as well as Gaza, said their accounts had also been blocked.
The vice president of the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate, Tahseen al-Astall, said “around 100 journalists” in Gaza had seen their accounts blocked.
As a necessary part of reporting on both sides of the conflict, Gaza journalists receive Palestinian resistance group Hamas’s statements, including via WhatsApp.
The Arab Center for the Development of Social Media said the blocking of WhatsApp accounts was not an isolated incident.
In a new report, the group, based in Haifa, documented 500 cases in which Palestinian “digital rights” had been violated between May 6 and May 19.
“Content and accounts were removed, reduced and restricted, hashtags were hidden, and archived content deleted,” the report said.
Some “50% of these reports were about Instagram, 35% Facebook, 11% Twitter and 1% Tik Tok.
“Companies did not provide an explanation for the deletion or suspension in the majority of their responses to users,” the report said.
We have seen an “escalation against digital rights of Palestinians” in recent weeks, 7amleh campaigner Mona Shtaya told AFP.
Social media remains an important tool for Palestinians, many of whom believe traditional media coverage does not sufficiently capture the reality of the crisis.
Tensions came to a boil earlier this month over the looming expulsions of Palestinian families from their homes in the occupied east al-Quds neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah to make way for illegal Zionist settlers.
Zionist airstrikes and artillery fire on Gaza killed 253 Palestinians, including 66 children, and wounded over 1,900 people in 11 days of conflict from May 10, the health ministry in Gaza says.