Palestina - Journalists under attack and union offices targeted (2012)

Reports stated that Gaza government police had detained journalists and then ordered them to sign a pledge to «abide by law, order and conventions» following their arrest at a January protest in support of the Egyptian rallies. Member of the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate (PJS) General Secretariat Tahseen Al-Astal said the journalists and others who were detained refused to sign the paper, saying they had broken no laws, but added that the group was eventually compelled to sign a paper promising to abstain from taking part in unlicensed protests. Six journalists were also assaulted by Gaza government police.

In March, the authorities banned members of the PJS from traveling to and from Gaza. At least 20 journalists were attacked, beaten and had their documents confiscated as security forces targeted media for their coverage of a rally calling for unity between Hamas and the Fatah movement. Several media offices were also ransacked and the authorities imposed a ban on the PJS board members. The PJS organised a demonstration in the West Bank, to protest against the attacks on Gaza based journalists and the ban on its board members. The Hamas government in Gaza was also accused of systematic attacks on the media after dozens of journalists were subjected to assaults by Gaza security forces who also targeted media offices, including those of Reuters and other international media groups.

In October, the PJS reported that security forces escorted a group of Palestinian journalists to the union’s offices, where they seized phones and ordered the staff out, claiming to be the new executive body of the syndicate. These journalists are said to have received support from the Journalists’ Block, an organisation of media workers affiliated to the Hamas movement. However, the group has denied any involvement in the take- over but confirmed their support for the action against the PJS leadership.

In early December, five journalists were detained in Gaza. The government denied those detained were journalists and accused them instead of being «security agents» for the West Bank administration. Several were later released. Conflicts between journalists undermine principles agreed in a reconciliation deal between the Gaza and West Bank governments in May.

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