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Hamas imposes travel ban on IFJ safety trainer in Gaza

(IFJ/IFEX) - In a strongly worded letter, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today accused the Hamas administration in Gaza of sabotaging the Federation's safety training for Palestinian women journalists. The letter to Prime Minister Ismael Haneya followed the decision of Hamas to ban the IFJ safety trainer in Gaza, Sami Abu Salem, from travelling to Cairo to deliver a training session marking the International Day of Women.

“We consider this initiative to be crucial for the welfare and safety of Palestinian women journalists who are daily exposed to dangers that may even threaten their lives,” said the letter signed by IFJ President Jim Boumelha, describing the ban as “an appalling callous act for your administration to have prevented Mr. Abu Salem from travelling to Cairo to deliver the training.”

According to the Palestine Journalists' Syndicate (PJS), an IFJ affiliate, Abu Salem was questioned about the reasons for his travel to Cairo. He was then asked to get permission from the Government Press Office (GPO), something the PJS said was never required of him before when he crossed the border.

The story took another twist when the director of the GPO in Gaza, Salamah Marouf, told the journalist that his office does not issue permissions for journalists to travel abroad. He suspected that somebody had filed a complaint against Salem for identity theft.

The IFJ rejected this allegation as a lame excuse to justify the ban and warned the Hamas administration over the journalist's rights.

“The IFJ holds your government responsible for protecting his right to travel, work and help other journalists,” the letter added.

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