Freedom of the Press 2005

Press freedom is respected in Israel. While newspaper and magazine articles on security matters are subject to a military censor, the scope of permissible reporting is wide and there is a broad range of published material. Editors may appeal a censorship decision to a three-member tribunal that includes two civilians. Arabic-language publications are censored more frequently than are Hebrew-language ones, and Arab-Israeli journalists can be subject to greater restrictions than their Jewish counterparts. Publishing the praise of violence is prohibited under the Counterterrorism Ordinance. Israeli authorities prohibit expressions of support for groups that call for the destruction of Israel.

In January, Israel's state prosecutor's office issued an indictment against the editor of the Arabic newspaper Sawt al-Haq Hurriya, alleging that articles in the paper amounted to incitement to terrorism. During the year, some Arab-Israeli journalists were detained and searched by security forces, including a reporter covering an event at the residence of Israeli president Moshe Katzav and another who was prevented from boarding the Israeli foreign minister's airplane. In May, Israel-in a stated attempt to protect its citizens-barred accredited journalists with Israeli citizenship from entering the Gaza Strip to cover the death and funeral of slain Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin. Also in May, Israeli police arrested British journalist Peter Hounam, who allegedly violated a court order barring interviews of Mordechai Vanunu, an Israeli citizen released from jail in April after serving an 18-year sentence for spying and discussing Israel's reputed nuclear capability. Hounam was freed shortly after his arrest. In August, the Israeli Supreme Court denied a government appeal to uphold a ban on granting press credentials to Palestinians. Israel's Government Press Office earlier ceased issuing press cards to Palestinians on security grounds; the government claimed some Palestinians posing as journalists used the cards to gain entry into Israel to carry out or abet terrorist attacks. In September, Israel deported a British freelance journalist who had been prevented from entering the country because of her political activities with the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), a group sympathetic to Palestinians that operates in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Israel features a vibrant media landscape. Various newspapers and broadcast programs are available in a variety of languages, reflecting a broad range of political viewpoints and religious outlooks. The Israel Broadcasting Authority operates public radio and television services. There are also commercial television networks and radio stations; most Israelis subscribe to cable or satellite television. All Israeli newspapers are privately owned and freely criticize government policy. Internet access is widespread and unrestricted. In March, the Organization of Arab Journalists in Israel called for the creation of an Arabic-language television channel, claiming that Israel's Arab community is underserved by the national media.

[The rating reflects the state of press freedom within Israel proper, not in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, which are covered in the following report on the Israeli-Occupied Territories and Palestinian Authority.]

2005 Scores

Press Status


Press Freedom Score

(0 = best, 100 = worst)
(0 = best, 40 = worst)
(0 = best, 30 = worst)