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November 19, 2007

Hamas Further Curbs Press

In Hamas' latest move to treat journalists "with dignity," the group is demanding that journalists working in the Gaza Strip carry a Hamas-issued press card. The AP reports:

Gaza's Hamas rulers issued an edict Wednesday banning journalists from working in the coastal strip unless they submit to sweeping press restrictions, and it said it would soon impose new restraints on public gatherings. . . .

Gaza's Interior Ministry said journalists who do not hold Hamas-issued press cards would not be allowed to work in the territory.

News organizations have resisted getting the cards because that entails submitting to restrictions which include a vague ban on stories that "cause harm to national unity" or do not uphold "national responsibilities."

The restrictions were first enacted in 1995 when Fatah was in power, and that group used the rules to crack down on Hamas.

"The government will not allow any reporter or photographer to work unless they get the press card," said a statement on the Interior Ministry's Web site. "This decision came after the rally of the Fatah movement in which dozens of cameramen and photographers were observed, not working for any media organization, but using these cameras for political parties and for personal reasons."

After the restrictions were issued, Hamas police briefly detained a Palestinian cameraman for Germany's ARD TV. . .

The Tel Aviv-based Foreign Press Association, representing foreign journalists in Israel and the Palestinian areas, condemned what it called "harassment of Palestinian journalists in Gaza by Hamas security forces."

In a statement, the association also objected to the new rules. "The authorities in Gaza are urged to respect press freedom and to allow all journalists to pursue their work without intimidation or interference," it said.

Posted by TS at November 19, 2007 05:00 AM


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