Monday, March 21, 2011
Hamas Mugs Journalists - Again
Violence erupted in and around Gaza on Saturday, as Hamas security forces roughed up demonstrators and journalists, and five people were wounded in cross-border fighting.
Security forces stormed the offices of international news organizations after the violent break-up of a small demonstration in Gaza City on Saturday, witnesses said. Journalists covering that event were roughed up, they said.
They raided the offices of CNN, Reuters and Japanese broadcaster NHK, all in the same building where international news operations are located.
Reuters bureau chief for Israel and the Palestinian territories, Crispian Balmer, said one employee was beaten with an iron rod and another was threatened with being thrown out the window. He said a camera was confiscated but was later returned. A TV and a computer keyboard were destroyed by the security forces.
The forces forcibly entered the CNN office, demanding to see whether there was any television equipment and asking if anyone had been shooting video footage from the office.
NHK Jerusalem bureau chief Disuke Iijima said videotape had been confiscated.
And, surprisingly, from Ma'an:
A Palestinian journalist in the Gaza Strip said Saturday that she received threats of violence from Hamas authorities over her participation in demonstrations.
The journalist told Ma'an that Hamas police threatened her and her son if she wrote anything on Facebook or her blog about the pro-unity protests that have been dispersed violently throughout Gaza in recent days.
She said authorities sent the head of her family a text message saying, "We will kill her the next time she blogs against us or uses Facebook to organize anything ... If you won't do it, we'll do it for you."
The journalist, who requested anonymity due to fear of reprisal, said she was detained and that while in jail, police referenced her son by name and indirectly threatened to take action against him over her work.
"I deactivated my Facebook account and can't write anything on my blog" due to the threats against him, she told Ma'an by phone from Gaza, adding that Hamas security was following her.
Other journalists told Ma'an that authorities were taking unprecedented measures against press in the wake of the demonstrations. Cameras and recording equipment have been confiscated and data erased.
"The situation for journalists is really terrible; it's unbelievable," she said. "In the past they treated people from Fatah like this but now they are targeting ordinary civilians, including journalists."
She added: "This is the first time I'm afraid to use my name."
Interestingly, CNN and Reuters were silent when Hamas attacked other journalists only two days earlier.
Outside of press associations, I have yet to see any condemnation of Hamas for these acts.
Elder of Ziyon