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Gaza Strip journalist receives death threats; TV station chief held overnight; bail imposed on detained reporter, cameraman

(RSF/IFEX) - RSF calls for the release of Al-Aqsa TV reporter Alaa Al-Titi and cameraman Ossayd Amarneh, held on unknown charges since 5 November 2007 in the West Bank city of Hebron (30 km south of Jerusalem). The organisation is also concerned about death threats received in Gaza by Imad Eid, the head of the Ma'an news agency.

"The situation of journalists continues to worsen in the Palestinian Territories," RSF said. "Both Hamas and Fatah ride roughshod over press freedom and arrest journalists without any justification. How can they work safely in these conditions? We appeal to Mahmoud Abbas and Ismael Haniyeh to act wisely and to call the different Palestinian security services to order."

No charges were presented against Titi and Amarneh when they appeared before a judge in Hebron (Al-Khalil in Arabic) on 20 November. Their families refused to pay the requested bail of 12,000 shekels (2,000 euros), accusing the authorities of "extortion." The two journalists, whose station is affiliated with the Islamist party Hamas, were arrested on 5 November after interviewing the relatives of a Hamas parliamentarian held by the Israeli army.

Mou'taz Al-Kurdi, the head of the television station Al-Amal, was meanwhile released on 10 November, the day after his arrest in Hebron by security forces controlled by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

The death threats against Eid, who is the Gaza Strip correspondent of the Lebanese TV station Al-Manar as well as head of the Ma'an news agency, were made by an unidentified person who called Eid's cell phone on 15 November and referred to the fact that he was a journalist.

Eid told RSF he reported the threat to the police. "I told them I fear for my life, especially in view of the recent abuses against many of my fellow journalists in the Gaza Strip," he said.

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