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Local journalists in Gaza Strip

BBC Monitoring

Text of report in English by Palestinian Ma'an News Agency website; subheadings as published

    Bethlehem - Ma'an: In light of the absence of foreign press coverage in the Gaza Strip, the secret stories remain buried and local journalists are afraid to report as they feel their lives are at risk.

    The reporters of foreign agencies in the Gaza Strip are locals and are reticent to be involved in reporting the details of events out of fear that Hamas or Fatah gunmen could turn on journalists in a region where jurisdiction and legal authority are absent.

    The execution of the Fatah militant, Samih al-Madhun, on a public street and without trial left an impact on the residents and eyewitnesses of Gaza, who prefer to remain anonymous.

    Following the takeover of the Palestinian security headquarters in the Gaza Strip, Hamas initiated a campaign against the non-security headquarters, which belong to Fatah, in addition to conducting house-to-house searches of Fatah leaders' homes.

    Fatah leaders and activists in the Gaza Strip alleged in telephone calls with Ma'an that since Friday morning [15 June], Hamas's Al-Qassam fighters and the Executive Force have begun to raid their homes, in search of people "wanted" by Hamas.

    A Fatah activist in Gaza City said that the gunmen ripped up his carpet, looking for a secret shelter or room where Fatah activists could be hidden. Another said that gunmen humiliated him in front of his wife and children, "adopting the conduct and language of the Israeli forces."


Shutting down the media

    News director of Palestine TV, Ahmad al-Uraydi, told Ma'an: "Hamas gunmen seized the headquarters of the Palestinian Broadcasting Corporation (PBC), and abducted the technicians from Al-Aqsa satellite channel, preparing themselves for transmitting from the PBC." Zaki depicted the events as "piracy and vandalism" since the PBC is a Palestinian institution, which has nothing to do with the Hamas-Fatah conflict. [Paragraph as published]

    He added "the Israeli occupation allowed the Iranian press to transmit from Israeli territories while Hamas prohibited the Fatah-affiliated TV and radio stations to transmit."

    Hamas' media outlets said that Fatah activists in the West Bank arrested employees of the Hamas-affiliated TV channel in Ramallah and attacked several Hamas headquarters in different parts of the West Bank.


"Punishment without trial"

    Hamas announced on Friday that they arrested Fatah leaders Jamal Kayid, Tawfiq Abu Khusa, Misbah Bihaysi and Hammuda al-Shaykh. Hamas described the arrestees as criminals who were involved with the "mutiny trend." Observers are worried that Hamas continues to punish its rivals without trials or defence.

    The Fatah leader in the West Bank, Muhammad Abd al-Nabi, said "Hamas is a Taleban-like movement which cannot become civilized." He told Ma'an: "The US occupation in Iraq tried Saddam Husayn in public before he was executed; meanwhile Hamas has appointed itself God's agent on earth and indulge themselves as if it is the Middle Ages."

    He added: "Hamas is seeking a moral legitimacy because they know they cannot manage the Palestinian population without Fatah. For that reason, they brought Khalid Abu Hilal, who is originally a Hamas member and introduced him as a leader in the Al-Aqsa Brigades of Fatah. He was dismissed from Fatah a year and a half ago. Hamas will show remorse and beseech Fatah to help them govern Gaza in the coming weeks or days."

    Palestine TV, which President Abbas transferred to Ramallah in the central West Bank, continued to transmit archive pictures of the deceased Palestinian President, Yasir Arafat. It also continued to discuss a "military coup" in the Gaza Strip and Fatah gunmen accused Hamas of cooperating with the US in order to defeat Fatah.

    The governing director of the PBC, Basim Abu Sumayya, told Ma'an: "We will call Hamas immediately to hand over all the properties of the PBC and compensate for losses."

    Ma'an is attempting to get a detailed response from Hamas leaders to this report.

    Source: Ma'an News Agency website, Bethlehem, in English 1445 gmt 15 Jun 07



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