Hamas Arrests Journalists, Restricts Freedom of Speech

Several journalists were arrested in their homes yesterday by Hamas security forces. A number of other reporters were summoned for interrogation by Hamas security authorities, and were arrested afterwards.

Though Hamas did not elaborate as to why any of the journalists had been arrested, most of the journalists are affiliated with Fatah.

In one case, Hamas security officers raided the home of Juma’a Abu Shomar, who works for the Voice of Freedom radio station, detained his father and uncles, and demanded that Abu Shomar hand himself in. Hamas also arrested Muneer al-Munairawi, Administrative Director of the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate in the Gaza Strip, as well as journalists Ashraf Abu Khsaiwan and Mustafa Migdad.

Prior to this wave of arrests, Hamas security forces also arrested reporters Abdel Karim Hijji and Hussein Abdul Jawwad after summoning them for interrogation.

Hamas security forces

Stock: Hamas security forces

The PLO’s Information and Culture Department condemned the crackdown on the journalists in the Gaza Strip and called on Hamas to release them immediately. The department described the arrests as a serious assault on freedom of speech and human rights.

This is yet another incident in a long line of incidents in Hamas’ efforts to limit the freedom of press and intimidate journalists stationed in the Gaza Strip.

Two months ago, in the Hamas Cabinet meeting in Gaza, Hamas decided to ban Palestinian journalists from working “with all Zionist media and journalists.”

In March 2012, three journalists were attacked by Hamas’ security forces while reporting during a massive wedding in Gaza City. One journalist was punched in the face and chest, and later detained in a dark cell for one hour, half-naked.

In March 2011, Hamas raided the headquarters of CNN, Reuters and Japanese broadcaster NHK, in Gaza, due to their coverage of Hamas members violently dispersing a small demonstration in Gaza City.

Hamas, while doing its best to prevent critical and honest reporting in Gaza, runs its own media sources. The Al-Aqsa and Al-Quds TV stations, both run by Hamas, airing news talk, children’s shows, and religiously inspired entertainment, all promoting violence and hatred. To see for yourself, go to our list of top seven clips from seven years of Hamas’ Al-Aqsa TV.

Sources: Jpost, PNN