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Palestinian factions condemn arrest of Fatah members, TV cameraman

BBC Monitoring

Text of report by London-based newspaper Al-Hayat website on 12 August

[Report by Fathi Sabbah in Gaza]

Several Palestinian forces, factions, and organizations have denounced the arrest of some Fatah Movement activists, including two movement leaders in the northern Gaza Strip, by elements of the Executive Force of the Interior Ministry of the deposed National Unity Government headed by Isma'il Haniyah. They strongly denounced the Executive Force's arrest of Ra'id al-Kafarinah, a television cameraman of the independent Ramattan News Agency, and his detention for two hours before releasing him and warning him that he would be summoned again in the coming days.

It was noteworthy that the Palestinian Journalist Bloc, which is part of the Hamas Movement's Journalists Union, has also issued a strong condemnation, describing the attack on Al-Kafarinah as a "reprehensible incident" and stressing its "total rejection of all practices and actions targeting workers in the information field under any circumstances and for any reason.! "

Local sources told Al-Hayat that the Executive Force assaulted by beating scores of participants in the wedding celebration of a member of the Na'im family in Bayt Hanun, in the northern Gaza Strip, affiliated with the Fatah Movement.

The sources added that relatives of Dr Basim Na'im, the health minister in the Haniyah government, were singing songs that praised Samih al-Madhun, a leader of the pro-Fatah Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades. Elements of the Al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of the Hamas Movement, killed Al-Madhun on 14 June, the day when the Hamas Movement seized control of the Gaza Strip after inflicting a military defeat on the Fatah Movement and its security services. They said that elements of the Executive Force arrested 20 youths, including two leaders of the local Fatah Movement branch in the area.

The sources said that elements of the Executive Force opened fire in the air when a procession of women, which included the mothers and siste! rs of the detainees and other women, besides men and youths, came out to protest against their detention and to demand their release. The Executive Force assaulted them, inflicting various wounds on some of them.

Cameraman Al-Kafarinah transmitted scenes of these events via the Filastin [Palestine] Satellite Television Station in Ramallah that supports President Mahmud Abbas. The transmission of these scenes filmed by the cameraman of the Ramatan Agency took place according to a work agreement between the satellite television station and the agency. Several factions, forces, and human rights organizations have condemned these attacks.

In a statement it issued yesterday and a copy of which it sent to Al-Hayat, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine called on the Hamas Movement leadership "to compel the Executive Force to stop carrying out actions that harm and damage the interests of our people," noting the recent rise in the tempo of such actions. The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine maintained, "The continu! ation of arrests and the terrorization of the citizens are rejected actions," and denounced the arrest of Al-Kafarinah.

In a statement it issued and a copy of which it sent to Al-Hayat, the Palestinian National Initiative said that the arrest of Al-Kafarinah "represented a violation of the freedom of opinion and expression and the freedom to report the facts. It represented an attempt to influence events and direct them to serve one of the sides in the existing political struggle."

The Palestinian National Initiative called for "the need to provide protection to the citizens and the journalists against attacks and not to violate their personal rights and freedoms."

In a statement a copy of which it sent to Al-Hayat, the People's Party maintained that these incidents confirm, "The Executive Force was going ahead with its actions in an attempt to impose military rule on our Palestinian people."

Member of the Party's Political Bureau Walid al-Awad said,! "These practices send rejected messages whose aim is to instil fear i n the hearts of the citizens in an attempt by Hamas to perpetuate the fait accompli in the Gaza Strip."

The Arab Liberation Front called on the Executive Force "to stop the policy of violence and political detention against the citizens in the Gaza Strip."

The Conscience Institution for Human Rights denounced the attacks on the citizens at the wedding celebration and said in a statement a copy of which it sent to Al-Hayat that what happened "represented a serious violation of the right for peaceful assembly and freedom of opinion." It denounced the arrest of Cameraman Al-Kafarinah, which is considered a "violation of the freedom of journalism." It called on the Executive Force to stop violating human rights.

Meanwhile, the Executive Force has denied that the arrests took place against a political background. It said in a statement yesterday that some of the participants in the wedding celebration held near one of the centres of the Executive Force "opened f! ire and threw stones at a position of the Executive Force ..., prompting Executive Force elements to go to the scene, inquire about the perpetrators, and arrest several gunmen who disturbed public order." It noted, "The investigation with them is continuing, based on the idea that no one is above the law."

The Executive Force added that it would not permit "a return to security anarchy," saying its patience "is about to be exhausted towards this group, which is violating the law and the ethics of our people."

It stressed that it would not allow the corrupt trumpets to create disorder among the people in the Gaza Strip and would impose security by the force of law. It would not arrest anyone against organizational background. It arrested these people because they violated the law and disturbed public order and not because they were Fatah cadres, as some have tried to portray them.

Source: Al-Hayat website, London, in Arabic 12 Aug 07



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