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Hamas reinforces control over Gaza media, introduces new accreditation system

Hamas reinforces control over Gaza media, introduces new accreditation system

Hams has announced a new system of accreditation for all telecommunications companies, Internet service providers, broadcast media and news agencies based in the Gaza Strip, which has been controlled by it since June 2007, Reporters sans Frontières (RSF) has reported.

Yusef Al-Mansi, the Hamas government’s minister of communication and information technology, told Paris-based RSF that the aim of his directive, issued on October 13, was “simply to regulate the work of the media in accordance with the law in effect since 1996.”

“This decisions seems above all to be motivated by Hamas’ desire to control the press,” RSF reacted. “The Islamist party is trying to give itself the tools that allow it to legally ban news media that show too much support for the Palestinian Authority.

“After closing the state-owned Palestinian Broadcasting Corporation, banning distribution of the pro-Fatah newspapers Al-Hayat Al-Jadida and Al-Ayyam and arresting dozens of journalists, the Ismael Haniyeh government is going one step further by issuing this highly questionable directive. The Palestinian Authority is no better, as news media affiliated to Hamas are no longer allowed to work in the West Bank.

“One of the results of these coercive measures imposed by Hamas is to force Palestinian journalists to censor themselves. They are also helping to delay the return of foreign journalists, who pulled out of the Gaza Strip after British journalist Alan Johnston’s abduction. Pluralism and media diversity are threatened by this kind of decision.”

The communication ministry’s directive has been greeted with concern by media owners in the Gaza Strip. Shahdi Al-Kashif, the head of the Ramattan news agency, told RSF that the political motives were much more important than the legal aspects.

“Journalists are caught in a game of reprisals between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority,” he said. “Hamas is now asking us to register with the Gaza Strip government, while the Palestinian Authority bans any contact with this government, which it dissolved.”

In a separate development, Hamas security services arrested three journalists - Yusef Fayad and Akram Al-Louh, who work for the daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, and online reporter Hani Ismael - at their homes in the central Gaza Strip town of Deir Al-Balah on October 12 and took away their computers. They are still being held without charge.

Date posted: October 15, 2008 Last modified: May 23, 2018 Total views: 376