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Continued and unwarranted closure of two TV stations in Gaza

The Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA) expresses its concern about the continued closure of Ma'an agency and Alarabiya TV offices in the Gaza Strip since 25 July, as well as the prosecuting of journalists and bloggers, which increased after the dismissal of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi and after the events at Rabaa al-Adawiya and al-Nahda in Cairo. The arrest of journalist Thaher Alshamali was the most recent in Ramallah, and in Gaza, blogger Hazem Salamah was called in for interrogation.

General Director of MADA Mousa Rimawi stated that the continued closure of Ma'an and Alarabiya takes us back to the dark, first months after the Palestinian internal division in mid-June 2007, which witnessed the closure of media outlets' headquarters in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, the prohibition of media outlets from working, and the prevention of newspaper distribution, in addition to large prosecutions of journalists.

“We thought that we had passed that stage, especially after the breakthrough that has occurred in the status of media freedoms during the past year and a half, but the return of tension to the relationship between Fatah and Hamas and the recent events in Egypt cast a dark shadow over freedom of expression in Palestine, and led to the deterioration of press freedom in the last two months," said Rimawi.

The Attorney General's adviser in Gaza, Ismail Jabr issued an order on 25 July 2013 to close the offices of Ma'an and Alarabiya in the Gaza Strip on a temporary basis under the pretext of the "fabrication of news and the spreading of rumors not based in truth which threatens national peace and harms the Palestinian people and their resistance".

Rimawi stated that the continued closure of the offices and prosecution of the journalists is a breach and violation of media freedoms and articles 19 and 27 of the Palestinian Basic Law.

In addition, the decision to close was temporary, but the duration was not specified, which allows for the closure to last for months or years. This prompted MADA to call for the offices to be reopened immediately, to enable the journalists and their media outlets to work freely and safely, to end the prosecution of journalists, whether in Gaza or the West Bank, and to allow the re-printing and distribution of newspapers in both areas.

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