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Hamas has been systematically terrorizing Palestinian journalists in the Gaza Strip — most of whom are members of Fatah — for years. They have been subjected to harassment of many varieties, including beatings and arbitrary arrests. On Tuesday, Hamas took the bull by the horns and forcibly shut down the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate offices in the Strip. Armed Hamasniks raided the offices, announced it was closed until further notice, and “summoned” members of the organization for interrogation by the security forces.
One of the heads of the union is pleading with journalists abroad to speak out. “We urge Arab and foreign journalists and human rights activists to intervene with Hamas to stop its repeated crimes against the syndicate and its members in the Gaza Strip,” he said. The International Federation of Journalists has responded to the call. “The action by the Hamas government is a violation of journalists’ rights and a slap in the face of Palestinians who are courageously fighting for their rights and the independence of journalism in appalling conditions,” said IFJ President Jim Boumelha. “We join our affiliate the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate in their strong protest and we support their demand for an investigation into this action.”
But where is the coverage? Silencing the press is no small matter; surely this is worthy of note abroad? Particularly as it is Palestinian voices who are being silenced — where are their friends? All those journalists who came out of the woodwork to put in their two cents in support of the flotilla — surely they are outraged at the subjection of Palestinians to such blatant repression? Speak up!
That’s a little awkward, though, if your real affections lie not with the Palestinian people, but with Hamas. This is an instance where the popular allegiance with the underdog reveals itself to be a nasty fascination with the brute. Hamas is a thug nation, and with most of the international press on its side, what semblance there was of journalistic freedom in Gaza even for Palestinians is largely a thing of the past. This is the full extent of the Guardian’s coverage of the raid:
Hamas security forces have raided and shut down the headquarters of the Palestinian Journalists Union in Gaza.
Union leader Abdelnasser al-Najar said that one of the Hamas officers informed board members that it would be closed until further notice.
The union is dominated by the secular Fatah movement, which Hamas drove out of the Gaza Strip when it seized power in June 2007.
Najar, who is based in the West Bank town of Ramallah, said the raid was the latest in a series of “violations of the rights of the media” in Gaza. Some 25 media outlets have been shut down since the Hamas takeover.
Too bad it wasn’t the Israelis. RIP, Palestinian Journalists Syndicate.Published in