Palestinian Territories - Journalists at centre of heated exchanges between Fatah and Hamas



    MONTREAL, March 14 /CNW Telbec/ - Journalists are being used to an
unprecedented degree by the main political factions in the Palestinian
Territories and around 10 have been arrested since the start of the year. The
media are at the centre of the dispute between the Islamist party Hamas,
controlling the Gaza Strip and President Mahmoud Abbas' party, Fatah, in the
West Bank.
    "Relations between the press and the two rival ruling parties are very
tense throughout the Palestinian Territories," Reporters Without Borders said.
"Both journalists affiliated to one or other of the parties and those who
claim to be independent are being targeted in the duel between Fatah and Hamas
leaders, who often claim to be defending press freedom when settling political
scores. Political leaders and media representatives must get together to seek
a way to defuse the tension."
    Various journalists associations affiliated to Fatah or Hamas have spoken
out in recent days about press freedom violations in the Gaza Strip and the
West Bank. Spokespersons for both parties have also issued statement blaming
their political adversaries for the violations.
    In the meantime, journalists are paralysed by threats and acts of
intimidation by politicians. In the latest example, Amer Nawaf of the Ramattan
news agency was arrested in the West Bank city of Ramallah on 12 March. The
Palestinian Authority's security forces accused him of being a member of
Hamas. He was freed the next day without being charged.
    In the Gaza Strip, a court sentenced two journalists with the pro-Fatah
daily Al-Ayyam on 6 February to six months in prison for libel.
    Click here (http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=25440) to read the
chapter on the Palestinian Territories in this year's annual report on press
freedom worldwide, which Reporters Without Borders issued on 13 February.




For further information:

For further information: Katherine Borlongan, secretary general,
Reporters Without Borders, (514) 521-4111, Cell: (514) 258-4208, Fax: (514)
521-7771, rsfcanada@rsf.org

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