Hamas authorities in the Gaza Strip are requiring foreign journalists to take on
regimeapproved “sponsors” while in the coastal area, the latest sign the
Islamist group is determined to keep a tight lid on the flow of information from
Terje Carlsson, a freelance Swedish journalist, left
Israel on Sunday for Gaza, first crossing the Palestinian Authority checkpoint
at the border of the Strip and a few hundred meters on, the checkpoint run by
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“They usually check your luggage for liquor, write down your
passport number and ask where you’re staying,” he told The Jerusalem Post
phone from Gaza City.
Carlsson has reported from Gaza at least six times
over the last two-and-a-half years and never experienced problems getting in or
out. But this time, he said, he was denied entry after officials told him his
“fixer” in the Strip had not received prior government approval. (A fixer is a
local person who sets up interviews with officials and residents, helps
reporters take basic security measures and often serves as translator.) After
several hours of wrangling, Carlsson was finally let into Gaza, but instructed
to find a Hamas-approved “sponsor” the next morning.
The reporter said
the demand puts the fixer in a very precarious position.
stories very critical about Hamas – people have told me about things like
drug-smuggling corruption. The local fixers give you a lot of information about
this. They’ll put you in touch with a lot of people who talk about how bad this
“For me this is reminiscent of the Soviet Union; the
authorities are trying to let the fixers know that the only way to make money is
not to be too difficult,” he continued.
“This is a way to tighten the
flow of information.”
could not independently confirm Carlsson’s
Also Monday, Israeli police arrested a Hamas lawmaker who had
been sheltered for more than a year in the International Red Cross offices in
east Jerusalem, Reuters reported, quoting a police spokesman.
Attoun had taken shelter in the ICRC building along with another Hamas
legislator and a former Hamas government minister after Israeli authorities
revoked their Jerusalem residency permits.
The police spokesman and a
security guard at the ICRC building said paramilitary police disguised as
Palestinians had grabbed Attoun at the entrance to the offices and arrested him.
He was taken into custody a day after Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud
Abbas mentioned the men’s case in a speech on his return to the West Bank from
the United Nations, where he applied for recognition of full Palestinian
The other two Hamas men remained inside the ICRC
In a statement issued in June 2010, after Israel ordered them
to leave Jerusalem, the three Hamas operatives wrote: “We, as sons of Jerusalem
have never left it before... we emphasize that we will remain here and never
The ICRC has said it told Israeli authorities that
international humanitarian law prohibited the forcible transfer of Palestinian
residents from their homes, for whatever reason.
The organization also
said it had informed the three Hamas men that ICRC premises had no special
status and the ICRC could not prevent police entering the building to arrest