Gaza Strip and Westbank

Basic Data

Gaza Strip and Westbank

Official Country Name: Gaza Strip and West Bank
Region (Map name): Middle East
Population: 1,132,063(GS); 2,020,298(WB)
Language(s): Arabic, Hebrew, English
Literacy rate: N/A

Gaza Strip and the West Bank or the Palestinian Autonomous Areas are beleaguered portions of land filled with a people who have been fighting for autonomy against seemingly insurmountable odds.

Prior to the September 1993 Oslo Accords, the Palestine Authority (PA) had no broadcasting stations. They relied on the goodwill of other countries for broadcast time. After Oslo the Palestine Broadcasting Corporation (PBC) was established in outlying apartment building in Ramallah and oversees both radio and television.

Oslo accorded the PA one medium-wave and 10 FM radio frequencies. Sawt Filastin (The Voice of Palestine or VOP) is its flagship program. Pirate broadcasting is widespread with a 1998 estimate of 10 stations operating; the same number as officially licensed frequencies. Despite the allotted official frequencies PA media have suffered hits from Israeli military and a 2000 estimate suggests that the PBC is operating one AM station on 675 kHz with no FM or short-wave frequencies in operation.

Initial television service begin in 1995. In 1999 PBC was able to reach all areas using 11 low-power transmitters. Palestine TV is operated from both Gaza and Ramallah and there is also a Palestine Satellite Channel. Both are run by the PBC. PBC uses commercial sponsorship and receives funding from the PA to help it toward solvency. Its programming consists primarily of local interest issues. There are also at least nine other private television stations.

Newspapers include: Akhbar an-Naqab , Al-Quds ( Jerusalem ), Al-Ayaam al-Arabi , Al-Haria ( Liberation ), Filastin ath-Thawra ( Palestine Revolution ); and weeklies Al-Hadaf , Al-Hayat al-JadidahAl-IstiqlalAl-Ayyam , and Al-Watan Ar-Risala ( Letter ). There are also three periodicals: weekly Filastin ( Palestine ) and Palestine Report, and the monthly Shu'un Filastiniya ( Palestine Affairs ). Supporting these endeavors the Palestinian Journalists' Union and the Palestine News Agency, Wikalat Anbaa' Filastiniya (WAFA), that offers news in Hebrew, French, and English.

As of 1999, 23,520 people were connected to the Internet with eight Internet service providers in operation.

The Palestine Security Services and the PA have been involved in numerous arbitrary jailings, beatings, and detainment of journalists, censorship and other limitations of freedom of the press.


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Clint B. Thomas Baldwin

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