Hamas bans ‘seminar’ on role of media and Palestinian prisoners

Hamas often bans conferences and protests organized by its political rivals in the Gaza Strip, especially Fatah.

A Palestinian prisoner, convicted of security offences against Israel, looks out of his cell at Nitzan jail (photo credit: REUTERS/NIR ELIAS)
A Palestinian prisoner, convicted of security offences against Israel, looks out of his cell at Nitzan jail
(photo credit: REUTERS/NIR ELIAS)
Hamas has banned a seminar on the Palestinian media’s role in highlighting the issue of Palestinian security prisoners held in Israeli prisons.
In response, the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Journalists Syndicate (PJS) called on Palestinian journalists and media outlets to boycott Hamas.
The seminar, which was organized by the PLO’s Abdullah al-Hourani Center for Studies and Documentation, was supposed to discuss the role of the Palestinian media in “activating” the issue of the prisoners.
Hamas often bans conferences and protests organized by its political rivals in the Gaza Strip, especially Fatah.
Hamas security officers notified the directors of the center on Wednesday of the ban under the pretext that the organizers had failed to ask for a permit to hold the symposium.
Eyad al-Bazam, spokesman for the Hamas-controlled Interior Ministry in the Gaza Strip, said the event was banned “because it did not follow the routine legal procedures.” The organizers, he said, should have notified the security forces in advance of their plan to hold the seminar.
Sources in the Gaza Strip said the event was banned because Hamas suspected that representatives of its rivals in the Fatah faction were behind it. They pointed out that a group called the Fatah Prisoners Committee was supposed to participate in the event.
In addition, the sources added, members of PJS were scheduled to take part in the seminar.
The PJS strongly condemned the Hamas ban, dubbing it an “arbitrary measure that contradicts the basic rights of freedom of expression and peaceful gatherings to support the case of our heroic prisoners in occupation prisons.”
The PJS called on Hamas to halt its practices and to keep the issue of the prisoners away from the dispute between Hamas and Fatah.
The Hamas decision undermines the “just case” of the Palestinian prisoners, the PJS charged. “The decision reflects Hamas’s desire to impose its own agenda on the media and union arenas in the Gaza Strip,” it said in a statement.
Urging all Palestinian civil society institutions to take a stance on the Hamas move, the PJS called on local journalists and media outlets to boycott Hamas and its media organizations until it “apologizes for its blatant violation of the Palestinian Basic Law, which safeguards freedom of expression.”
Wednesday’s move on the part of Hamas is yet another sign of the continued rivalry between the movement that has been ruling the Gaza Strip since 2007 and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah faction.
The Hamas decision coincided with renewed efforts by Egypt to persuade the two rival factions to end their dispute and agree to the formation of a Palestinian unity government.
Hamas and Fatah leaders are currently visiting Cairo for talks with Egyptian intelligence officials on ways of ending the rift and achieving “national reconciliation.”
The Egyptians are expected to host a joint meeting of the Hamas and Fatah officials in Cairo this coming weekend, according to sources close to the two sides. The Egyptians are exerting heavy pressure on the two parties to reach agreement on the implementation of the Egyptian brokered Hamas-Fatah reconciliation accord that was signed in Cairo in October 2017.


Tags Fatah media