Hamas really are an ungrateful lot. Foreign journalists could not be more cooperative. Already predisposed to seeing Palestine as the victim and Israel as the aggressor the articles on the conflict seem to be always biased in Hamas’s favour. When Hamas store weapons and fire rockets at Israel from inside hospitals, schools, and mosques the press dutifully report that the terrible Israelis attacked hospitals, schools, and mosques which are not legitimate military targets. When Hamas damages with rockets an Israeli power station that supplies power to both Israel and Palestine, the media dutifully report that the terrible Israelis have cut off power to Palestine.
Despite this Palestine friendly coverage, Hamas is restricting the work of foreign journalists in the Gaza Strip.
The Foreign Press Association (FPA) in Israel issued a statement that it is “concerned about restrictions being imposed by Hamas officials on the work of foreign journalists in the Gaza Strip.” Issues raised by the FPA include intrusive questioning of reporters, refusal of entry and residence permits, and permits conditioned upon not working with certain locals.
In parts of the very long statement that I have not reproduced in full, there are also complaints against Israel and repeated denials from the media that their reporting is biased against Israel.
The Foreign Press Association is concerned about restrictions being imposed by Hamas officials on the work of foreign journalists in the Gaza Strip.
Several of our members have complained of intrusive questioning on entry and when applying for residence permits. In a few cases, foreign reporters have been refused permits, given permits of untenably brief duration, or told their permits were conditional on not working with specific Palestinian colleagues.
We appreciate Hamas officials’ readiness to discuss these issues at a recent meeting with FPA representatives. We urge them to uphold their stated commitment to allowing the foreign press to work freely in Gaza, where until recently reporters were allowed to work with relatively few restrictions. We hope they will follow through on their pledges to grant one-year entry permits to foreign journalists, which would be an important step in the right direction…22nd August 2016.
…On Thursday, FPA member Heidi Levine, a photographer for SIPA Press, was detained by Hamas security men for more than three hours before she was allowed to leave Gaza. As she exited, Hamas security told her she was banned from the territory, claiming her work “reflects badly on Gaza.” They provided no examples of the work that allegedly upset them.
The FPA strongly condemns the thuggish behavior of the Hamas security and the implication that Hamas should judge what is or isn’t acceptable coverage of Gaza. Unfortunately, this incident is not isolated. A number of FPA members have reported being forced to undergo uncomfortable questioning by Hamas security forces while entering or exiting Gaza in recent months.
We call on Hamas to end these practices immediately and urge the group to give journalists unfettered access in and out of Gaza. May 19th 2016
The Foreign Press Association is deeply disturbed by demands from Hamas in Gaza that news organizations with armoured cars in the territory pay an excessive fee to register them for use.
In the past, authorities in Gaza applied the same fee for armoured cars as they do for other vehicles with the same size and type of engine, namely 2,100 shekels a year for a diesel vehicle. Hamas officials are now impounding foreign news organisations’ armoured cars and demanding 4,000 shekels a year.
In July last year, representatives from the FPA met with Hamas officials in Gaza, including the deputy minister for transport, and it was agreed that the usual 2,100 shekel fee would be applied, with the deputy minister citing the PA’s own Transport Ministry legal guidelines. That agreement is not being respected.
We call on the Hamas authorities to respect their own laws and previous commitments. News organizations are prepared to pay the legal fee to operate vehicles on Gaza’s roads, but will not submit to excessive fees that appear to have no basis in law.
…On Sunday, a New York Times video journalist was attacked and lightly injured by an angry mob of Palestinian youths following a demonstration in the city of Hebron. A car attempted to box in the journalist’s vehicle, which was clearly marked with a “press” sign in the windshield. He also yelled in Arabic that he was a journalist. But in an unprovoked attack, the youths banged on the car and smashed the front and back windshields and threw rocks into the car, including one that struck him in the face. After the journalist managed to speed away, the car chased him for several minutes as he searched for Palestinian police. It only backed off when he turned into an Israeli military checkpoint. Although the incident occurred in Palestinian-controlled territory, Palestinian security forces were nowhere in sight. The Foreign Press Association calls on the Palestinian security forces to do their utmost to protect journalists at this sensitive time and uphold their stated commitment to freedom of the press. 13th October 2015