Gaza - Press House
On Tuesday, April 26, 2022, Press house – Palestine, in cooperation with the European Union, held a dialogue meeting in the Gaza Strip, on the topic of "Digital Media.. Opportunities and challenges".
The meeting was attended by Mr. Simone Petroni, Head of the Political Section at the EU office in Jerusalem, Ms. Martina Tinko, Policy officer at the EU office in Jerusalem, Mr. Belal Jadallah, Head of Board at Press House, and a number of representatives local Palestinian media and social media activists in the Gaza Strip.
"The Palestinian people are the ones who know the exact meaning of Press under the digital blockade" said Belal Jadallah, , in his speech, stressing that the dialogue meeting would explore the prospects and problems of digital media.
Mr. Jadallah added "Everyone was exposed to these challenges, and none of us remained but was violated by social media, especially in light of Israeli attacks on the Palestinian people," implying that attempts to block Palestinian content exist in order to prevent the Palestinian message from reaching its intended audience”. He noted that there are other topics linked to this topic, in which they aim to cover in this meeting.
Mr. Simone Petroni, Head of the Political Department at the EU office in Jerusalem, stressed the importance of the meeting in the presence of representatives of Palestinian local media and social media activists.
Mr. Petroni said "You are the protectors of freedom of expression and speech in Gaza and Palestine in general, we understand that Press Freedom is being increasingly harassed in Palestine, and we want to share your experiences of these violations through this conference”. He also asked “ How can Gaza be represented locally and internationally , as there is more misrepresentation of Gaza in the media than a real presence globally”.
He also added that the few representatives of Gaza, were insufficient, implying the need to demonstrate the humanitarian component to the Gaza Strip's local population.
Abdullah Sharshara, Coordinator of the Legal Protection Unit for Journalists at Press House , summarized the digital violations of Palestinian journalists, adding that the major actors behind these violations have changed, since 2017, with social networking sites emerging as a new source of threat to journalists.
Sharshara said: "The number of violations of digital rights of journalists in 2021 has reached more than (158), ( 70%) of these violations was caused by Facebook, including some large-scale cyber attacks on media organizations during the May, 2021 escalation.
From his part, Osama Abu Hassan, Digital Media Expert, talked about the most pressing issues and obstacles encountered by Palestinian Journalists and social media activists, particularly when writing content and artificial intelligence, which gets dealt with in ways of duplication that are currently inexplicable.
According to Abu Hassan, social media networks in the Palestinian territories lack a representative who can be referred to in the event of a problem or in order to validate any activity they carry out.
He pointed out that social media networks intentionally leave out some Palestinian facts and stories, which is deliberate in the sense that only those who are aware of the situation are actually aware, while the general audience is unaware.
Abu Hassan proposed the formation of committees, consisting of Palestinian diplomats or others, with the European Union's participation, to establish a communication channel between Palestinian media and officials of global social networks, in order to dialogue and express opinions in the event of any problems.
During the meeting, representatives of the local Palestinian media and social media activists spoke about their experiences and challenges with social networking sites, as well as how they impacted their media and journalistic work in Palestine.