Hamas on Wednesday banned the distribution of three Palestinian newspapers in the Gaza Strip.
The decision came hours after Israel decided to allow the three newspapers, which are published in Jerusalem and Ramallah, to enter the Strip.
The newspapers stopped distributing in Gaza after the closure of the border crossings following Hamas’s violent takeover of the area three years ago.
However, the Israeli government recently decided to allow the three newspapers – Al-Quds, Al-Ayyam and Al-Hayat al-Jadida – to reach the Gaza Strip once again.
The decision was taken as part of the government’s initiative to ease a series of restrictions imposed on the territory.
The three newspapers were supposed to reappear in the Gaza Strip on Wednesday morning. However, Hamas policemen stationed at the Palestinian side of the Erez crossing confiscated all the copies.
Hamas claimed that the newspaper editors did not apply for permission to sell in the Gaza Strip.
Al-Quds, the largest Palestinian daily, is privately owned, while the other two belong to the Palestinian Authority. All three newspapers serve as mouthpieces for the PA and Fatah.
The Fatah-controlled Palestinian Journalists Syndicate in the West Bank condemned the Hamas move and called for lifting the ban.
The syndicate said it was “inconceivable” that a Palestinian government
had banned the distribution of the newspapers, especially after Israel
had given permission to allow them into the Gaza Strip.
It added that the entry of Palestinian newspapers into the Gaza Strip
was one form of “breaking the blockade” imposed on the Gaza Strip.
Hamas’s decision would only “solidify” divisions among the Palestinians
and “harm the social fabric of Palestinian society,” the syndicate said.