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Palestinian security denies attacks on journalists in West Bank

BBC Monitoring

Text of report in English by independent, non-governmental Palestinian Ma'an News Agency website

Bethlehem, 28 November: Palestinian security services said on Wednesday that Hizb Ut-Tahrir were responsible for the confrontations which erupted in Palestinian cities across the West Bank on Tuesday during anti-Annapolis rallies. The security services said the rallies were organized without the consent of the Palestinian [National] Authority.

Thirty-seven-year-old Hisham Barad'i was shot and killed during a demonstration in Hebron.

The security services detained hundreds of protestors in Hebron, Nablus, Bethlehem and Ramallah. They also attacked Palestinian journalists and media crews, including assaults on the director of Watan TV, Mu'ammar Urabi, Al Jazeera correspondent, Wa'il Shuyuki and IMEMC photographer Ghassan Bannura.

A spokesperson from the security committee in Hebron accused Hamas of taking advantage of the rallies for political gain and incitement against the Palestinian [National] Authority and its leaders. "More than a hundred riot! ers were arrested and after interrogation it was revealed that more than 30 of them were affiliated to Hamas," he said. He said that 15 officers had been injured in the demonstration in Hebron, where they were pelted with stones and bottles. He also accused Hizb U-Tahrir of organizing rallies without applying for the required permits from the Palestinian security services.

Palestinian security in Bethlehem said that some of the hundreds of demonstrators, who took to the city's streets, were carrying clubs and knives.

"The rumours of assaults on journalists during coverage of the demonstration were completely false, as the general commander gave strict directives to the security officers to avoid opposing journalists and to give them enough space to do their duty as they should. If any of the journalists was harmed, it was only accidental during confrontation with the demonstrators," the commander of Bethlehem security added.

IMEMC photographer, Ghassan Ban! nura, suffered a fractured arm and severe injuries to his leg, after h e was badly beaten by security services in Bethlehem, as he photographed the demonstration.

Source: Ma'an News Agency website, Bethlehem, in English 1354 gmt 28 Nov 07



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