Hamas agrees to release journalists after protests

Gaza group claimed journalists had plotted to foil attempts to achieve reconciliation between the Islamist movement and Fatah.

Hamas supporters rally in Hebron 370 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Hamas supporters rally in Hebron 370
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Following a wave of protests, Hamas agreed Monday to release a number of Palestinian journalists and bloggers who were detained last week in the Gaza Strip.
Hamas claimed that the journalists and bloggers had plotted to foil attempts to achieve reconciliation between the Islamist movement and Fatah.
Ehab al-Ghissin, spokesman for the Hamas government, said that Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh ordered the release of the detainees “despite the sensitivity of the case.”
Hamas security sources claimed that the detainees were part of a network that operated in the Gaza Strip on instructions from ousted Fatah operative Muhammad Dahlan.
Dahlan, a former security commander in the Gaza Strip, was expelled from Fatah last year after a disagreement with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
Dahlan supporters recently disrupted a Fatah-sponsored rally in Gaza City marking the 48th anniversary of the faction’s first terror attack against Israel.
Dahlan, who has been living in the United Arab Emirates since his expulsion from Fatah, has since been waging a smear campaign against Abbas and several top Fatah leaders.
He is an elected member of the Palestinian Legislative Council. Abbas had also signed an order stripping him of his parliamentary immunity.
Last week, Hamas detained six journalists and bloggers in the Gaza Strip after raiding their homes and confiscating computers and documents.
The crackdown drew sharp condemnations from the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate and a number of human rights organizations.
Some of the detainees were arrested for posting comments on Facebook criticizing Hamas.
The journalists denied allegations that the detainees had acted on instructions from Dahlan or any other official or party. The journalists and bloggers were arrested because of their political views and not for conspiring against Hamas or Palestinian reconciliation, they stressed.
The detainees have been identified as Ashraf Abu Khsaiwan, Majdi Islim, Omar al-Dahoudi, Munir Juma’ah, Mustafa Migdad and Juma’ah Shomar.
The families of the detainees said that their sons went on a hunger strike over the weekend to protest their incarceration.
Meanwhile, Hamas accused PA security forces of arresting six of its supporters in the West Bank over the past 24 hours.
Hamas said most of those arrested had recently been released from Israeli prison.