Hamas bans popular TV talk show

'Red Line' talk show addresses legal issues of current situation in Gaza.

Hamas takes control 298. (photo credit: AP)
Hamas takes control 298.
(photo credit: AP)
The Hamas Ministry of Information on Wednesday ordered the Ramattan News Agency and Media Services to stop broadcasting a popular TV show that dealt with the current situation in the Gaza Strip. The agency had been recording and broadcasting the show on behalf of Fatah-controlled Palestine TV ever since Hamas took control over the Gaza Strip. Palestine TV, which has since stopped broadcasting for the Gaza Strip, is now using its Ramallah studios only. But like most stations, Palestine TV has been forced to use the services of Ramattan, the largest agency for television productions in the Gaza Strip. On Wednesday morning, the Ramattan staff received a letter from the Hamas Ministry of Information instructing the agency to stop broadcasting the talk show, which is called Red Line. The program is presented by Palestinian author and journalist Hassan al-Kashef, a former director-general of the PA Ministry of Information. Hamas justified the decision to drop the talk show by claiming that the fate of Palestine TV in the Gaza Strip had yet to be decided following the latest developments there. The last show, which was aired last Wednesday, dealt with the legal issues pertaining to Hamas's violent takeover of the Gaza Strip and the role of the Palestinian security forces in imposing law and order. Three Palestinian lawyers working for different human rights groups who appeared on the show were critical of Hamas's performance in the Gaza Strip. Kashef, who lives in the Gaza Strip, said no one from Hamas informed him of the decision to drop his show. He said the order was sent to Ramattan, which relayed it to the heads of Palestine TV in Ramallah. The decision to ban the talk show comes only days after Hamas banned the distribution of Fatah-controlled newspapers in the Gaza Strip. Hamas justified the ban by accusing the newspapers, which are published in east Jerusalem and Ramallah, of inciting against Hamas. Tawfik Abu Khoussa, deputy chairman of the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Journalists Syndicate, strongly condemned the decision to prevent the airing of the talk show. "The Hamas authority in the Gaza Strip is pursuing a policy of systematic intimidation and repression against the freedom of expression," he said. "Hamas is trying to hide its crimes in the Gaza Strip by imposing restrictions on the work of journalists and terrorizing them." In another development, Hamas's military wing, Izzadin Kassam, on Wednesday issued an ultimatum to the PA security forces in the West Bank to release all Hamas detainees or face attacks. A man who identified himself as Abu Jaheem (Father of Hell) on Wednesday told the Bethlehem-based Maan news agency Hamas will use rockets and explosives to attack the headquarters of the security forces. The man claimed to be speaking on behalf of an armed Hamas group in the northern West Bank. He also claimed responsibility for Tuesday night's explosion outside the PA's central prison in Nablus, where scores of Hamas detainees are being held. No one was hurt in the attack. Kamal al-Sheikh, commander of the PA police in the West Bank, warned Hamas against targeting his men or PA security installations. "We will chase them wherever they go," he said Wednesday. "We won't allow them to harm any of our men. Hamas is not above the law in the West Bank."