Five journalists arrested by Palestinian security services

RAMALLAH, Palestinian Territories: Palestinian security forces have arrested five journalists from local media outlets, including one affiliated with Hamas, a journalists' union and official media said on Wednesday.

Security forces arrested the five journalists from different Palestinian media in the West Bank in recent days, the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate said.

Official Palestinian news agency Wafa cited an unnamed security source confirming four journalists had been arrested, saying they were accused of "leaking sensitive information to enemy groups".

It said the issue was "under investigation".

The Palestinian Authority run by president Mahmud Abbas is based in the West Bank, while Islamist movement Hamas controls Gaza.

The two factions have been unable to reconcile in a decade and are often at loggerheads.

Abbas has been seeking to increase pressure on Hamas in recent weeks, including by cutting public sector salaries and payments for electricity in the Gaza Strip.

The syndicate condemned the arrests, calling for media to be spared the fallout from the split between the Palestinian factions.

In 2016, Freedom House classified the media environment in the West Bank and Gaza as "not free", ranking it below Iraq and Zimbabwe and level with Russia. — AFP