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'PA, Hamas systematically abuse Palestinian journalists'
By LAHAV HARKOV
06/04/2011
Human Rights Watch cites attacks on reporters, Gaza man detained after finding man Hamas claimed was killed by Israelis was alive.
 
The Palestinian Authority and Hamas systematically abuse Palestinian journalists, according to a Human Rights Watch report released Wednesday.

"Severe harassment by Palestinian Authority and Hamas security forces targeting Palestinian journalists in the West Bank and Gaza has had a pronounced chilling effect on freedom of expression," Human Rights Watch said, calling on the PA and Hamas to "hold their security forces to account for systematic, severe abuses."

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Human Rights Watch recounts cases of torture, beatings and arbitrary detainment of journalists by security forces in a 35-page report titled No News is Good News.

Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch said in a statement that "Palestinian security forces are becoming notorious for assaulting and intimidating journalists who are just trying to do their jobs."

"Both the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and Hamas in Gaza need to end these blatant attacks on free expression," Stork added.

In one reported case, Hamas security forces detained an Al Quds radio reporter and attacked him "in a morgue where he had reported on a man, supposedly killed by Israeli military attack, who was discovered still to be alive."

"The majority of abuses against journalists in both the West Bank and Gaza have been related to tensions between the PA and Hamas," according to Human Rights Watch's report. On March 19, Human Rights Watch reported, 15 Hamas security men raided Reuters offices in Gaza, smashing computers and beating journalists during demonstrations in favor of Hamas-Fatah unity

The PA detained independent journalists suspected of working for Al Jazeera, which the PA has accused of being pro-Hamas.

The Center for Development and Media Freedoms, a Palestinian rights group, said that the number of attacks on journalists, arrests and confiscations of equipment rose by 45 percent in 2010.

Human Rights Watch's report says that "abuses by Hamas in Gaza as well as by Israeli military forces throughout the occupied Palestinian territories will be the focus of future reporting."
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