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APC member 7amleh – The Arab Center for the Advancement of Social Media launched the report “Connection Interrupted” in English and Arabic. It details the Israeli control over the Palestinian ICT infrastructure in the West Bank and Gaza and its impact on the digital rights of the Palestinian people.
Since the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories in 1967, Israel took complete control of the ICT infrastructure and sector in the West Bank and Gaza, impeding development and blocking the establishment of an independent network, instead making Palestinians entirely dependent on the Israeli occupation authorities. In defiance of the Oslo Accords, which stipulate that Israel must gradually transfer control over the ICT sector to the Palestinians, Israel has tightened its control over the Palestinian ICT infrastructure, resulting in severe violations of Palestinian digital rights.
This digital occupation has resulted in the creation of a severe ICT gap between Palestinians and the rest of the world, violating several human rights including their right to access economic markets. Additionally, Israel’s continuous control over the ICT infrastructure has enabled Israel to monitor all Palestinian online activity, violating their right to privacy and in many cases cooperating with social media companies to censor Palestinians online, a violation of their right to freedom of expression. The report reminds us that third-party states have a responsibility to ensure that their policies do not recognise or support the illegal Israeli occupation and its practices and instead ensure that Israel abides by its international obligations as an occupying power.
The report concludes with recommendations for an independent Palestinian ICT sector, including access to infrastructure and spectrum frequencies, an immediate stop to illegal surveillance and monitoring of the Palestinian population, and for Israel to adhere to its responsibilities and duties as an occupying power. Israel and social media and ICT companies must respect and further Palestinian human rights including digital rights.