The International Federation of Journalists today accused the Hamas group in Palestine of "flagrant violation of press freedom" after militants seized Palestinian newspapers.
The IFJ joined the protests of the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate which condemned the seizure near the Beit Hanoon crossing of the Palestinian newspapers including copies of al –Quds ,al-Ayyam and al-Hayat al-Jadeeda.
"The seizure of newspapers by political activists is a flagrant violation of journalists rights and press freedom," said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. "It flies in the face of respect for democracy which Hamas tries to present to the outside world."
The IFJ supported the comments of Naim Toubassi, President of the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate and a member of the IFJ Executive Committee who said the action aggravates the already difficult situation in the region.
"The political crisis is made worse when violence and censorship replaces the peoples' right to know," said White. "This is the latest example of intimidation and pressure on journalism."
The IFJ says that since the Hamas takeover of Gaza there has been targeting of media and journalists, the offices of the Syndicate have been raided and some journalists have had to flee for their lives. Nevertheless, the IFJ is supporting efforts to strengthen the rights of journalists in the area and has launched a programme of work to help the Syndicate develop its activities.
"It's time for the Hamas leadership to end this pressure on journalists and to return to some version of pluralism and respect for free expression that will allow space for peace and reconciliation among Palestinians," said White.