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August 11, 2014

Defending Hamas, Jodi Rudoren Suggests Foreign Press Association Spreads "Nonsense"

A New York Times reporter is apparently unhappy with with the Foreign Press Association's criticism of Hamas.

In response to today's FPA statement that slams "the blatant, incessant, forceful and unorthodox methods employed by the Hamas authorities and their representatives against visiting international journalists," Jodi Rudoren, the New York Times bureau chief in Jerusalem, tweeted:

It is unclear which and how many reporters Rudoren has met. Presumably she didn't have a chance to meet with Radjaa Abu Dagga, a French-Palestinian reporter who documented Hamas's harassment in an article for Liberation.

Blogger Elder of Ziyon managed to translate an excerpt from the article before Abu Dagga, apparently unconvinced that his treatment at the hands of Hamas was "nonsense," asked Liberation to pull his article.

Correspondent Radjaa Abu Dagga for years divided his time between Paris, where his wife and son live, and Gaza, where his parents live and where he works. On 18 June, when he wanted to cross the Rafah border, an officer banned his way and took his passport like all Palestinians trying to cross into Egypt that day.

After four blocked attempts to leave Gaza without explanation over weeks, the Palestinian journalist was summoned by the security services of Hamas on Sunday. "I received a call from a private number. They summoned me to Al-Shifa Hospital in the Gaza City center," explains Radjaa. He carried with him his two phones, his press card and a small camera.

A few meters from the emergency room where the injured from bombings are constantly flowing, in the outpatient department, he was received in "a small section of the hospital used as administration" by a band of young fighters. They were all well dressed, which surprised Radjaa, "in civilian clothing with a gun under one's shirt and some had walkie-talkies." He was ordered to empty his pockets, removing his shoes and his belt then was taken to a hospital room "which served that day as the command office of three people."

A man begins his interrogation: "Who are you? Who do you call? What are you doing?" "I was very surprised by the procedure," admits Radjaa, who showed him his press card in response. Questions came. They asked if he speaks Hebrew, he has relations with Ramallah. Young Hamas supporters insistently ask the question: "Are you a correspondent for Israel?" Radjaa repeated that only works for French media and a chain of Algerian radio.

It was then that the three men delivered this message: "This is yours to choose. We are an executive administration. We will carry the message of Qassams. You have to stay at home and give us your papers. " Stunned to be covered by the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, Radjaa tried to defend himself and especially to understand why such a decision was taken against him. In vain. "It is impossible to communicate with these people," laments the journalist.

He is not the first to undergo this kind of pressure and combatants in front of him did not hide. "They are enraged against the presidency and accused me of collaborating with Mahmoud Abbas," he says. Reporters Without Borders confirms that this is not an isolated case. The organization has indeed been alerted by the threats of Hamas against Palestinian and foreign journalists for their professional activities.

Norwegian journalist Paul Jørgensen yesterday appeared to corroborate Abu Dagga's account. According to Google's translation from the original Norwegian, Jørgensen discusses "strict orders" from Hamas not to document the terror group's violence, and points out that several reporters have been kicked out of Gaza for reporting in a way that displeases the group.

It is hard to believe Rudoren was unfamiliar with Abu Dagga's (widely discussed) article. She certainly knows of it now, as several people brought it, and Jørgensen's comments, to her attention on Twitter. Nonetheless, the Times reporter has yet to clarify for her Twitter followers that the FPA's statement might not be "nonsense" after all.

Posted by GI at August 11, 2014 01:16 PM


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