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Political tension continues to take its toll on journalists in Gaza and West Bank

(RSF/IFEX) - 6 August 2010 - There has been a new wave of harassment and violence against journalists in the occupied Palestinian Territories as the political tension between Hamas and Fatah continues to take its toll on the media. In one of the latest cases, Ahmed Fayadh of the Aljazeeranet news website was beaten by police yesterday in Khan Yunis, in the southern Gaza Strip.

"The climate is becoming more and more unbearable for the media," Reporters Without Borders said. "Not a week goes by without flagrant press freedom violations in the Gaza Strip or the West Bank. It is becoming increasingly common for journalists to be made to pay for the political rivalry between Hamas and Fatah. We urge the leaders of the Palestinian Authority and the Hamas government to act responsibly."

The press freedom organisation added: "The Gaza authorities must order an independent investigation into the attack on Ahmed Fayadh and punish the police officers involved. At the same time, the Palestinian Authorities must lose no time in releasing Dr. Farid Abu Duhair and the journalist Mohamed Anouar Miny, who were arrested arbitrarily. The journalists Amer Abu Arfa and Tareq Abu Zeid must also be freed without delay."

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Heavy-handed raids

In the West Bank, five employees of the Palestinian Authority's customs department and ministry of communications and information technology went to the offices of the radio Mazaj FM bureau on 4 August and confiscated the transmitter. They claimed they had a warrant to do this, but did not show it.

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When the staff refused to comply, the police were summoned to enforce the order. Nablus TV employees who filmed the raid were manhandled. Their cameras were seized and the footage was deleted.

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Arbitrary arrests

Members of the Palestinian Authority intelligence services went to the home of Dr. Farid Abu Duhair, the head of the Nablus bureau of the newspaper Ennajah, at around 11 p.m. on 2 August and took him away for questioning. Officials did not explain the reasons for the arrest of Duhair, who has often criticised the Palestinian Authority in his articles. He is still being held.

A week earlier, the Palestinian Authority security forces arrested online journalist Mohamed Anouar Miny at his Nablus home for unknown reasons on 27 July, just two days after his release from administrative detention in Israeli prisons, where he was held for 11 months. The security forces searched Miny's home at the time of his arrest, and seized his ID card.

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