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Israel Drops to 92nd on Press Freedom Index

In an annual ranking of press freedom, the advocacy group Reporters Without Borders has dropped Israel from 86th to 92nd place, above Lebanon, but below Benin.

In a report published online, the group cited two reasons for the fall: “Firstly, Haaretz reporter Uri Blau is facing a possible seven-year jail sentence for possessing classified documents and his source, Anat Kam, was sentenced to three years in prison on 31 October. Secondly, on 21 November, parliament approved a media bill on first reading that would drastically increase the amount of damages that can be awarded in defamation cases.”

The group also noted that while “Israel enjoys real media pluralism,” military censorship would prevent the country from being ranked in the top 50.

In 2009, Reporters Without Borders highlighted Israel’s “free fall” from 46th to 93rd after the military offensive, Operation Cast Lead, saying that Israel had “begun to use the same methods internally as it does outside its own territory,” adding that illegal arrests of journalists and military censorship also posed a threat.

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