Hamas Blocks Pornographic Sites In The Gaza Strip

    May 20, 2008

Hamas has ordered Palestinian telecoms to cut off access to pornographic Web sites in the Gaza Strip, a Hamas government official said.

Telecommunications firm Paltel has agreed to restrict Internet users access to adult Web sites, according to Gaza’s Ministry of Communications.  "The aim of the move is to protect the Palestinian community from cultural pollution and to protect the young generations from the misuse of the Internet through viewing pornographic sites," Hamas government spokesman Taher al-Nono said.

Going against Hamas’s claims, the blocking of the Web sites was not done in cooperation with Paltel but by the threat of force. "We have no information about this whatsoever," one of the company’s senior officials told Israeli newspaper Ma’ariv. "We did not sign any agreement. As far as we are concerned, there is only one
Communications and Information Technology Ministry; it is located in Ramallah and is part of Salam Fayyad’s government."

Palestinian security forces said the decision to block web sites was forced on Paltel’s representatives in the Gaza Strip. "The Hamas government arrested senior directors in Gaza and threatened them so as to force them to cooperate," a defense source in Ramallah has reported.

The move to block adult Web sites was initiated by Yusuf al-Mansi, the minister of communication and information technology in the Hamas government. "We place the entire national and moral responsibility on Paltel’s shoulders," warned Minister al-Mansi. "It will be held responsible for anything that happens to it as a result of its non- compliance."

Reporters Without Borders ranks Palestine at 158 on its press freedom index for 2007 out of 169 countries.