Rights Groups Condemn Attacks on Gaza-Based Journalists

21.03.11 – 11:23| PNN – Palestine News Network

New York/Ramallah – PNN – Over the weekend Palestinian security forces of the Hamas government in Gaza attacked journalists and raided bureaus of agencies.

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The New York based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) condemned Hamas forces attacks on media agencies across Gaza on Saturday after covering protests organized by the March 15 Youth Coalition. On Saturday police officers raided the bureaus of Reuters, CNN and the Japanese NHK, taking taps and assaulting staff members.

CPJ said in a press statement that security officers also threatened to throw a Reuters employee from the window of the office after protesting the raid.

“Today’s attack on media offices and working journalists in Gaza is a brazen attempt to censor the news,” said Mohamed Abdel Dayem, CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa program coordinator. “Hamas must understand that violence against media, who are the eyes and ears of the people, will only erode its own legitimacy – both domestically and internationally.”
On Monday the Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA) expressed concerns over the escalated attacks on journalists in Gaza in the past week.

On Sunday al-Watan Voice radio correspondent Nasr Abu Alfoul was assaulted while covering a youth protest in Gaza City’s Square of the Unknown Soldier.

“While I was covering events from the yard I was approached by three members of the police that wanted to arrest me, I told them that I was live on air, but they didn’t listen and took me by force to a room near the yard.”  Abu Alfoul told MADA. He added, “They accused me of providing [Ramallah] with information. I denied the accusation so they beat me severely with sticks and batons; then after two hours they released me after coercing me into signing a pledge of commitment to public order.”

MADA say that Palestinian women journalists were also harassed by security services on Sunday.  Alhayat Aljadedah newspaper correspondent Nufouth Al-Bakri said that members of Internal Security followed her while she was covering the events in Square of the Unknown Soldier, where they tried to force her to leave the area and attempted to confiscate her camera.

Al-Bakri told MADA: “They were focusing their attacks on the women journalists and women demonstrators yesterday, and they tried to force all of the journalists from the region; they were pushing and cursing us using obscene language”.

The attacks over the weekend follows Hamas security forces’ attacks on journalists covering Tuesday’s March 15 youth protests demanding democracy and national unity. A journalist was also stabbed by a Hamas supporter on that day.


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