IFJ Calls for End to Media Clampdown in Gaza

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has today accused the Hamas administration in the Gaza strip of a major clampdown on journalists, targeting especially members of its affiliated organisation, the Palestinian Journalists' Syndicate (PJS).

The Federation joined the PJS in calling for the immediate release of six journalists who were arrested by Hamas security forces.

"The climate of sheer brutality and ruthless intimidation targeting media in Gaza has again shown that Hamas is no friend of press freedom," said Jim Boumelha, IFJ President. "These journalists are being held with no charges against them while their families and colleagues live in fear of raids and arrests. They should be released immediately and their families left in peace."
According to the PJS, Hamas security operatives began arresting journalists, especially PJS members, on Sunday when they raided their homes rounding up six of them in two days. They include Abdul Karim Hajji, Hussein Abdel-Gawad Karsou' and Bassam Darwich who were arrested on Sunday followed by their colleagues Ashraf Abu Khasewan of Deir al-Balah and Mustafa Mekdad held since Monday evening.

Security forces also arrested family members of Jumua' Abu Shoumer, correspondent of al Hurrya radio in Gaza, to force him to turn himself in, added the PJS.

The Syndicate accused the Hamas authorities of working with pro-Hamas journalists to undermine its work on building unity among journalists in Gaza and strengthening their standing among their colleagues in the region, including within the Federation of Arab Journalists (FAJ). The PJS, which took part in the recent FAJ Congress, believes that Hamas' recent actions belie an attempt to frustrate on-going efforts to achieve national unity which are expected to be concluded soon in the signing of a reconciliation pact and the forming of a national unity government.

The IFJ fully backs the PJS's strong opposition to political interference in journalists' affairs and calls on all political forces to respect media independence.

"We commend our colleagues in Gaza for opposing any attempt to dice and create divisions among journalists," added Boumelha. "The PJS has made tremendous strides in promoting professional journalism and they have our unwavering support."

For more information, please contact IFJ on +32 2 235 2207

The IFJ represents more than 600.000 members in 134 countries