Israeli military censored over 600 articles last year: report

Israeli military censored over 600 articles last year: report
An Israeli report revealed there has been a sharp increase in the monitoring of journalists’ work, particularly regarding Israel’s war on Hamas.
3 min read
17 May, 2024
There has been a sharp increase in media censorship in Israel [Getty]

The Israeli military prevented the publication of at least 613 articles in 2023, four times more than in 2022, according to a report in Israeli media.

At least 2,703 other news items were also deleted, three times as much as the previous year, the report by Israeli news site Mekomit said on Wednesday.

The data in the report was provided by the military censorship department in response to a freedom of information request submitted to the army.

According to the report, the department intervenes several times a day in information journalists convey to the public, even outside of war time, and can reach between 1,000 and 3,000 times a year.

While there is no monthly breakdown of the censored items and quantities, the report states "it is clear the reason for the jump is the Hamas attack on October 7 and the war in Gaza which went on throughout the last quarter of the year and is ongoing".

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The report adds the last time censorship levels and the silencing of journalists were so high was during an Israeli military operation in Gaza in 2014, when the military censorship took action on 3,122 news items and rejected 597.

"The law in Israel requires journalists to hand over any for review any article that is expected to be published that deals with security issues – which is a very broad topic and covers six thorough pages of sub-topics," the report states.

The censored items are not blacked out in articles, but rather omitted from being published.

The censorship department has also previously intervened in the documents of the State Archives.

Marwa Fatafta, the MENA policy and advocacy director at Access Now, an NGO focused on digital civil rights told The New Arab that the war on Gaza has been revealing in many ways in terms of media control.

"For one, it shattered the facade of Israel as a democracy. For the past seven months, the Israeli government has dialled up its repression to control the narrative, spread war propaganda and censor reality," she said.

"From internet shutdowns to blatant censorship, the Gaza war has been a war on truth as much as it's a war on the Palestinian people," she added.

Prior to Israel’s war on Gaza, censorship representatives would also physically show up to newsrooms and studios to scan media entities and social networks for violations.

Israel’s state-owned Kan11 news agency previously said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wanted to advance a law that would increase censorship and the arrest of journalists who report what is happening within the political-security cabinet without first being checked.

Israel’s communications minister Shlomo Karai has also banned the work of Al-Mayadeen in November, while Al-Jazeera was blocked from operating in Israel and the occupied West Bank recently.

Israel's army is known to keep tight control over reporting on troop casualties, with leaked reports from Israeli hospitals earlier on in the war leading to tighter censorship.

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) says that at least 103 journalists have been killed in Israel's war on Gaza since 7 October, but Palestinian sources have given a higher figure of 147.

Israel’s war on Gaza has killed over 35,200 people, mostly women and children, since 7 October and wounded over 79,000 others. The bombardment has devastated most of the Gaza Strip and destroyed much of the enclave’s infrastructure.

Around 1.4 million people displaced by the bombing are currently sheltering in Rafah,  upon which Israel has started a military assault.