Hamas condemned for violence, assaults on journalists

A media watchdog has condemned terrorist group Hamas for incidents of "violence and intimidation against journalists" covering events in the Gaza Strip.

According to the US-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), at least four reporters attempting to cover peaceful protests in the area were "physically assaulted and obstructed" by Hamas security forces on Wednesday.

One reporter for the Palestinian News Agency WAFA said he was detained and beaten for a five-hour period. Another had his camera confiscated.

According to the CPJ, Hamas warned journalists before the protests that coverage of "unauthorised demonstrations" would not be tolerated.

Hamas press spokesman Hassan Abu Hashish denied carrying out any form of "physical assault, verbal abuse, or humiliation" against journalists, but went on to promise an end to such harassment.

Mohamed Abdel Dayem, the Middle East co-ordinator for the CPJ, said: "These latest assaults on media in Gaza are yet another blatant attempt to suppress coverage of demonstrations in Gaza.

"The statement by Hamas's press office is an implicit admission that it has repeatedly engaged in violence and intimidation against journalists."

He added: "We call on Hamas to now carry out its pledge to end harassment of media and release all detained journalists immediately."

In October the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) condemned Hamas for violating journalists' rights and "targeting journalists who wish to promote solidarity and unity" after it shut down the offices of the Palestinian Journalists' Union in the Gaza Strip.

    Last updated: 4:05pm, April 1 2011