May 25, 2021


The cease-fire between Israel and Palestine may be official, but the war over the Gaza Strip is not over. Hours after the cease-fire was announced, multiple Palestinian journalists who were members of a chat discussing Hamas were blocked from WhatsApp.

WhatsApp Messenger is the primary way that the group of Palestinian journalists communicate for stories and editing purposes. The blockage of WhatsApp has made it more difficult for journalists to get stories to the public over the weekend.

WhatsApp Shut Down for Palestinian Journalists

The WhatsApp accounts were all blocked as of Friday, but the company had restored some of the profiles as of Monday. Seventeen journalists confirmed that their WhatsApp accounts had been disabled since Friday.

Only four journalists who all work for Al Jazeera confirmed that they regained access to their WhatsApp messenger accounts. Facebook Inc. owns WhatsApp, and the company has been questioned why they have targeted Palestinians trying to divulge the truth about Hamas.

Facebook has been known to censor journalists who voice their opinions if they go against the societal norm. This has made many people accuse Facebook of the latest blockage.

Twelve of the journalists confirmed that they were members of a WhatsApp group that discussed Hamas military operations. Hamas is a terrorist group that controls the Gaza Strip. This information that the journalists had access to through the chat allowed them to expose Hamas’ operations.

Why were Journalists Targeted?

It’s unclear why the journalists were targeted on the platform. Although, there is an investigation underway even though an answer may not be determined. Hamas runs Gaza’s Health Ministry, which is active on WhatsApp.

This group was not dismantled on the platform, which shows that it was not a problem for all of Palestine. The journalists were specifically targeted on the site. It has harmed all the journalists’ ability to make money.

Hassan Slaieh, a freelance Palestinian journalist, thinks his account was targeted because he was part of a chat called Hamas Media. Slaieh has been known to release stories discussing the terrorist group from information he learned on WhatsApp.

Slaieh told the Associated Press, “This has affected my work and my income because I lost conversations with sources and people.”

WhatsApp Blocked: Comments from the Platform

A WhatsApp spokesperson tried to calm the situation by saying that accounts are banned when they do not comply with platform policies. This put all the blame on the journalists for doing their job.

Even though the journalists were censored, they were still blamed by WhatsApp. The platform is reinstating all journalists who were blocked, but the process is taking time. This is not the first time that journalists have been blocked from WhatsApp in the past.

In 2019, journalists in Gaza were blocked from the platform, and Facebook did not give any explanation. The accounts were restored after media companies contacted technological representatives from the company.

WhatsApp claims that the technology team does not have access to individual chats or messages, but they are alerted when it’s believed that a group has the intent to harm.

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