Gaza security launch crackdown on Palestinian media
Published yesterday (updated) 24/01/2013 12:09
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Palestinian human rights groups say internal security
services in the Gaza Strip have stepped up harassment of journalists in the
Gaza Strip over the past 48 hours.
The Palestinian Center for Human Rights distributed a list of media workers
it said had been arrested since Monday and condemned the seemingly
coordinated campaign, which Hamas officials quickly challenged.
According to the PCHR, internal security officers arrested al-Katab
satellite channel employee Ashraf Jamal Abu Khseiwan and journalist union
official Monir Joma al-Monirawi on Monday in Deir al-Balah.
The same day, forces arrested Fatah Youth website employee Mostafa Mohammed
Meqdad and Joma Adnan Shawamra, a journalist who works for al-Hurriya radio,
in the Gaza City area, the group said.
On Tuesday internal security officers arrested Omar Mohammed al-Dahoudi
outside his office in Tal al-Hawa, the PCHR said.
On Wednesday, the group said, security forces detained Hussein Abdul Jawwad
Karsou of the Aswar press website and Abdul Karim Fathi Hejji, after
summoning them to the Ansar military compound west of Gaza City where they
were questioned about their political affiliations. They were released but
given another summons.
Meanwhile internal security officers detained Majdi Abdul Aziz Isleem in
The Palestinian media freedoms watchdog Mada issued a statement Tuesday
highlighting the same cases and confirming details of the abuse, which it
said included confiscation of property and searches.
The statement added that photographer Ashraf Abu Amra was assaulted while
covering a solidarity sit-in on Sunday, and quoted him as saying: "I
received an invitation from the Popular Front political party to cover the
solidarity sit-in with one prisoner of the Popular Front in French prisons
in front of the French Consulate in Gaza City.
"During the sit-in, one of the participants came and began to laugh in front
of reporters, we told him to show respect or to stay away from journalists,
but he began spitting and insulting us. Then, other participants interfered
and dragged him away of us. After the sit-in, he approached me and he beat
me and insulting me in front of everyone".
The Mada statement demanded that the internal security release the detained
journalists and stressed the need to respect freedom of opinion and
expression in the Gaza Strip and refrain from prosecuting journalists.
At a meeting with human rights groups Wednesday in Gaza City, a spokesman of
the interior ministry, Islam Shahwan, said no journalists had been detained
in Gaza recently, a Ma'an correspondent reported.
Shahwan said that his ministry guaranteed freedom of the press, and went on
to claim that recent detainees were charged with recognizable offenses. He
also said they admitted to the charges, the reporter said.
Later, a statement from the interior ministry challenged the rights groups'
accounts. A copy distributed by the PCHR said that "The summons of a number
of persons with different jobs was to question them on certain issues that
threaten the security of the community."
It added: "Those persons are not journalists at all. Even those who work as
journalists use this field as a cover to carry out suspicious acts."
According to the PCHR, interior ministry officials say they will release the
detainees by nightfall.
The group called on the government to respect freedom of expression and
follow correct procedures related to arrests and searches. It also reminded
the government of freedoms guaranteed in the Palestinian basic law.