Fatah and Hamas renew violent face-off

Threats against reporters, editors also intensify over the past few weeks.

fatah gun 298.88 (photo credit: AP)
fatah gun 298.88
(photo credit: AP)
Hamas and Fatah forces engaged in armed clashes again on Monday as an explosive device was detonated in the northern Gaza strip, next to the residence of a Fatah operative, though no one was injured, Israel Radio reported. Clashes were renewed on Sunday, when Hamas activists shot a Palestinian Preventative Security Service officer in Gaza, and a Hamas operative was shot and seriously wounded by Fatah operatives.
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Threats against Palestinian reporters and editors have also intensified over the past few weeks, prompting some of them to keep a low profile or to go underground. The threats coincide with growing tension between the two rival groups and armed clashes in the Gaza Strip over the past week. Earlier this month, the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate said seven Fatah-affiliated journalists in the Gaza Strip had received threats by e-mail, phone or fax - made in Hamas's name - to harm or kill them for their coverage. Some of the journalists told The Jerusalem Post that they were taking the latest threats very seriously and called on the Palestinian Authority security forces to protect them. "We have been receiving death threats almost every day over the past month," one reporter in Gaza City said. "The threats are coming from both Hamas and Fatah." Most of the journalists who were targeted were accused of biased reporting on the Hamas-Fatah confrontation. Others said they received threats from various branches of the PA security forces. On Thursday night, PA security officers beat Bassam Abdullah, a cameraman working for Palestine TV. The attack took place as Abdullah and other reporters tried to cover clashes between PA policemen and militiamen who sabotaged dozens of greenhouses in the former settlement of Morag in the southern Gaza Strip. During the confrontation, PA policemen prevented local reporters and cameramen from entering the area, accusing them of "inciting" against the PA, one of the reporters said. "They apparently did not want the world to see that the gunmen had destroyed some of the greenhouses," he added. The Palestinian Journalists Syndicate issued a statement strongly condemning the attack on the cameraman and called on the PA to launch an investigation. "We urge all our colleagues to contact Abdullah to express solidarity with him," the statement said. "We also urge the Palestinian Ministry of Information to assume its responsibilities and to defend the freedom of the media." Last month Gaza-based journalists declared a one-day strike to protest against similar assaults on their colleagues outside the office of Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh. The journalists complained that policemen stationed outside Haniyeh's office beat them when they arrived to cover a meeting. On Sunday the Gaza-based electronic magazine Donia al-Watan said it had received threats from a group affiliated with Hamas. Earlier this year unidentified gunmen went on a rampage inside the offices of the Fatah-affiliated magazine. "Soon we will destroy your Web site," said a message sent to the magazine by a group calling itself "Hamas's Anti-Terror Unit.""We have warned you in the past about publishing lies on your trivial site. We will strike with an iron fist against anyone who defames our warriors." The threat is apparently linked to a number of anti-Hamas stories and articles published by Donia al-Watan in recent weeks. The magazine has also received similar threats from Fatah groups in the Gaza Strip. Hamas officials denied that their movement was behind the threats, saying they did not rule out the possibility that Fatah elements were trying to drive a wedge between Hamas and Palestinian journalists. Aziz Dweik, speaker of the Hamas-dominated Palestinian Legislative Council, sent a letter to Haniyeh, asking him to launch an investigation into the threats against the magazine. "We urge you to preserve the freedom of the media, which is sacred for us," he wrote.