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Journalists covering march attacked by security forces

(MADA/IFEX) - Ramallah, 31 March 2011 - Despite promises by Interior Minister Fathi Hamad to halt all attacks against the media last week, a group of journalists were the subject of attacks on 30 March 2011 while covering a march on the occasion of Land Day. The situation further raises concerns about freedom of expression in the Gaza Strip, which has seen a rash of violations against journalists in the last month.

Wajeh Al-Najar, a correspondent for WAFA agency, told MADA that police officers from the Hamas-led government attacked and dispersed people gathering in Aljundi Almajhoul square, on the pretext that they did not have a permit to march. Police also detained Al-Najar for seven hours; he was finally released after signing a pledge not to cover any "unlicensed" marches.

Al-Arabia correspondent Wissam Yasin was also attacked by police officers after she refused to leave the square. One of the officers broke her mobile phone while she was covering a march from Alazhar University to the square.

Iyad Taha, a reporter for Sawt Alwatan radio, said that he was beaten with batons by a group of people in civilian and military clothes in the Alsaraya area. One of them sprayed him in the face with a yellow substance which caused him to have difficulty concentrating and breathing. His colleague, Muhamad Alhasomi, took him to a nearby hospital.

Alhasomi, who works for the Alhuriyeh Center for Media, told MADA that he was at the march near Al-Quds Open University, where he saw Hamas security personnel attack protesters and journalists covering the march, beating them severely with batons. He said that he too received bruises on his back, shoulder and left hand.

MADA condemns these recent attacks on journalists as a flagrant violation of freedom of expression. The organisation calls for an inquiry into the incidents and for all those responsible to be held to account.
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