Hamas bans Palestinian Authority daily for ‘incitement’

The decision to ban the newspaper was taken by the Hamas-controlled information and interior ministries.

By
May 30, 2019 05:14
2 minute read.
Gaza

A Gaza man reads a newspaper, featuring the Israeli election on its front page, in Khan Younis, March 18.. (photo credit: IBRAHEEM ABU MUSTAFA / REUTERS)

Hamas has decided to ban the distribution of the Palestinian Authority daily newspaper Al-Hayat Al-Jadida in the Gaza Strip because of “incitement and fomentation of discontent” among Palestinians.

The decision to ban the newspaper was taken by the Hamas-controlled information and interior ministries.

A senior Hamas official accused the PA daily of violating some of the laws of the Palestinian press and publications, specifically Article 37 regarding professional standards and objectivity.

The official said that the Hamas authorities recommended that the newspaper be banned from distribution in the Gaza Strip.

Founded in Ramallah in 1995, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida is an official PA newspaper run by senior Fatah officials. In the past, Hamas also banned the east-Jerusalem daily Al-Quds from the Gaza Strip.

A magistrate’s court in Gaza is expected on June 10 to look into the Hamas request to ban Al-Hayat Al-Jadida. The court issued a summons for the director-general of the Ramallah-based newspaper, Majed al-Rimawi, to attend the hearing.

The decision is apparently linked to the newspaper’s coverage of the protests that erupted in Gaza in March over economic hardship. Hamas accused the PA and its ruling Fatah faction of being behind the protests, which were seen as a revolt against the rulers of the Gaza Strip.

The Gaza-based Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA) condemned the decision to ban Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, and said it constitutes a blatant and unjustified violation of the freedom of the media. The center pointed out that Hamas was accusing the newspaper of “publishing provocative material that encourages violence, hatred and sedition.”

Tahseen al-Astal, deputy chairman of the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate, told the Qatari-owned The New Arab media outlet that the decision was a flagrant violation of the freedom of the media and freedom of expression.

Calling on Hamas to rescind its decision, al-Astal warned that the ban would further deepen divisions among the Palestinians, specifically between Hamas and the PA.

Fatah also denounced the ban, saying it reflects the Hamas “policy of tightening its grip on the media and distorting the truth.”

In a statement issued in Ramallah, Fatah said that Hamas’s crackdown on the Palestinian media “comes within the framework of a dangerous vision and assault on freedom of expression.”

Fatah pointed out that the official PA media was “biased in favor of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, who reject the Hamas rule. Hamas continues to suppress media institutions and journalists.”

Palestinian journalists in Gaza told The Jerusalem Post that Hamas was also considering taking punitive measures against the PA-controlled Palestine TV for its alleged role in instigating violence and inciting against the Hamas rule.

They said that Hamas leaders in Gaza were outraged by a recent report on Palestine TV that accused Hamas of stealing tons of meat donated by Saudi Arabia to the residents of the Hamas-ruled coastal enclave. Hamas has strongly denied the charges, saying the meat was being distributed to impoverished families.

In an editorial, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida said that it was not surprised by the Hamas ban. “Hamas is seeking to rid itself of the crisis resulting from its irresponsible policies,” it argued. “Hamas will prevent our newspaper from entering the Gaza Strip, but how will it prevent its presence in cyberspace? This is how the Muslim Brotherhood has always been acting; they always fear the truth and resort to fabrication and fraud.”


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