A spike in censorship: Israel censored on average one news piece a day in 2018

March 16, 2019
The IDF Censor prohibited the publication of more news reports last year than in almost any other year this decade.

An Israeli soldier attempt to block the view of a photographer as Israeli soldiers body search Palestinian men in the West Bank city of Hebron

Haggai Matar writes in +972, “Israel’s military censor prohibited the publication of 363 news articles in 2018, more than six a week, while partially or fully redacting a total of 2,712 news items submitted to it for prior review. According to the data, provided in response to a freedom of information request filed by +972 Magazine, Local Call, and the Movement for Freedom of Information, the censor barred more news stories from publication in 2018 than in almost any other year this decade.”

“The number of stories published with censor intervention also spiked, as the percentage of censored stories in 2018 was higher than in every year since 2011. Only 2014 — the year of Israel’s last war in Gaza — saw similarly substantial censorship of the press, when the IDF Censor partially or fully redacted 3,122 news stories, and completely barred 597 of them from being published.”

“The spike in censorship compared to 2017 is significant: in the last year, the IDF Censor prevented the publication of 92 more articles than it did in the year prior, while it partially or fully redacted an additional 625 stories. Over the past eight years, the censor has prohibited a total of 2,661 news stories from seeing the light of day.”…

“In recent years, the censor has tried to expand the scope of its power to review information prior to publication into the online world, including by notifying independent blogs and digital publications, like +972 Magazine, that they must submit certain articles for review. (Read more about censorship and +972.)”

“While legal criteria defining the IDF Censor’s mandate are both strict and quite broad, the decision of which stories to submit for review remains in the hands of editors at Israeli media outlets. In 2018, journalists submitted 10,938 stories for review, fewer than in the previous year (11,035). The decline in the number of stories filed, coupled with the rise in the censor’s intervention, could indicate that editors are learning what is or is not of actual importance to the censor, leading them to be more selective in what they file. Alternatively, the decline may be a result of media outlets publishing fewer articles on security-related issues.” (more…)

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