Hamas in Gaza: Minimal coverage of serious freedom of press violations

This is a cross post by Just Journalism

Scattered references in British media to allegations that Hamas has committed serious violations of freedom of press, including threatening to throw a Reuters journalist out of a window.

On Saturday, there were widespread allegations that Hamas had committed serious violations of freedom of press within the Gaza strip. These included detaining foreign journalists, confiscating their equipment, and, in one case, entering the Reuters office, beating a journalist with an iron bar and threatening to throw another out of a window.

The Reuters report on the attack describes the attack vividly:

‘Several armed men entered Reuters’ office in Gaza on Saturday, threatened employees with guns and took away a video camera, apparently after they spotted a reporter filming a demonstration from the building. The men struck one Reuters journalist on the arm with a metal bar and threatened to throw another out of the window of the high-rise block. The group, which numbered about 10 men, smashed a television set and other equipment before leaving.’

While Hamas has denied involvement in the attack, the men reportedly told the Reuters staff that they belonged to the internal security services of the group. Similar interventions allegedly occurred at the offices of CNN, and the Japanese news agency NHK.

These incidents occurred while pro-unity protests were occurring in Gaza, with journalists apparently targeted for trying to cover the demonstrations. As the Palestinian news agency Ma’an reports:

‘Journalists covering demonstrations in Gaza City said Hamas authorities were taking unprecedented measures against press. Cameras and recording equipment have been confiscated and data erased, journalists said.’

Despite the seriousness of these allegations, there has been limited coverage in the British press.

‘Israel retaliates after Hamas mortar attack’, by Dina Kraft in the Financial Times, was the only article to describe how security forces had entered the office and seriously intimidated the journalists there,  including  the threat to throw one of them out of a window:

‘The Reuters office was ransacked, employees were beaten and intimidated – one worker was even threatened that he would be thrown out of a window, according to a statement by the Foreign Press Association, an organisation representing foreign news correspondents and outlets covering Israel and the Palestinian areas.’

The Daily Telegraph and The Independent also included references in their wider Gaza coverage to journalists being detained and attacked  while reporting protests. The Guardian, The Times and the BBC News website have omitted to give any coverage to the issue.

The allegations of Hamas targeting journalists come after a week of accounts of violence by the Islamist group. As Just Journalism recently reported, Hamas security forces were accused ofassaulting students in a university, as well as demonstrators calling for reconciliation between the governments of Gaza and the West Bank.

See also: Hamas in Gaza: Protesters seek shelter in UN compound

See also: Coverage of Palestine unity protests underplays reports of violence

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