Gaza Journalists Protest Hamas Arrest Attempt

Posted: 8/26/2007 10:18:00 AM
Author: Associated Press
Source: This article appeared on the Jerusalem Post website on August 26, 2007.

Note from Librarians for Fairness to the American Library Association: Here's a situation that you should be loudly protesting about.

Gaza Journalists Protest Hamas Arrest Attempt
by Associated Press

Dozens of Palestinian journalists staged a sit-in rally Sunday in front of the Journalist's Union in Gaza City to protest an attempt by Gaza's Hamas rulers to arrest a colleague.

Late Saturday, Hamas gunmen tried to arrest Agence France Press reporter Sakher Abu El Oun, but left the scene at the urging of Hamas political leaders after a group of reporters alerted by Abu El Oun formed a human chain around his home and blocked them from entering.

The arrest attempt came a day after Hamas beat a group of journalists covering a demonstration protesting the group's rule in the Gaza Strip. Abu El Oun, who heads the Gaza journalists' union, harshly criticized the Hamas crackdown.

While publicly proclaiming its commitment to a free press, Hamas appears to be growing intolerant of the media, with harassment of reporters increasingly common.

At Sunday's rally, journalists called on Hamas to respect freedom of the press. Some held signs, one reading: "The Israeli occupation failed to deter journalists and so will the [Hamas] Executive Force."

"We refuse all forms of oppression designed to conceal the facts on the ground," said Shmas Odeh, a union leader.

The Foreign Press Association, which represents the foreign media in Israel and the Palestinian territories, condemned the Hamas harassment.

"This kind of dangerous infringement of professional journalists pursuing their duties is unacceptable," it wrote in a statement. "We urge the relevant authorities in Gaza to allow the proper functioning of the free press. There can be no excuse for any attempt to limit this freedom."