Gaza journalists warned away from Fatah event

Several Gaza journalists received anonymous overnight phone calls warning them not to cover upcoming events planned by the Fatah movement, fueling fears that the territory's Islamic Hamas rulers were trying to quash coverage of their rivals. Reporters for at least five local and foreign news outlets received calls late Sunday and early Monday warning them to stay away from events planned by Fatah to celebrate the 43rd anniversary of the veteran Palestinian movement's establishment. The reporters asked that their names be withheld because they feared retribution from Hamas, which seized power in Gaza in June after routing Fatah fighters loyal to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. A Fatah rally scheduled for Tuesday has been banned by Hamas, which repeatedly has cracked down on Fatah activists and harassed journalists covering pro-Fatah events since the Gaza takeover. Officials in the Hamas-run interior ministry in Gaza blamed Fatah for the calls, saying Fatah leaders in the West Bank were trying to embarrass the Islamic group. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because the ministry has not released an official response. Ibrahim Abu Al-Naja, one of Gaza's most prominent remaining Fatah leaders, said the movement would not hold a major rally Tuesday, and would make do with smaller gestures like setting off fireworks and lighting candles in the windows of pro-Fatah homes. Some 70 Fatah activists were arrested or went underground over the past few days, Fatah officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they feared arrest. Hamas denied those charges, saying no political arrests had been made. Hamas police raided Fatah's central office in Gaza City and seized posters, flags and computer hard disks, Fatah leader Ahmad Hillas said at a press conference Monday. "I want to say clearly and honestly: No one, no power will prevent us or stop us from commemorating this anniversary," Hillas said.