Hamas bans distribution of Palestinian dailies in Gaza Strip

July 28th, 2008 - 10:03 pm ICT by IANS  

Gaza City, July 28 (DPA) The de-facto Hamas administration in the Gaza Strip has banned three major West Bank-based Palestinian dailies in the salient, a statement by the Hamas-run interior ministry said Monday. The Palestinian Journalists Union in the West Bank said the Hamas police in Gaza prevented the three newspapers, Al-Quds, Al-Ayyam and Al-Hayat al-Jadida, from being distributed after they arrived in the enclave.

The ministry said it blocked their distribution in the Gaza Strip because of what it described as their unfair coverage of a bombing attack on a Hamas car Friday.

Five Hamas militants and a child were killed in the Friday night car bombing, which has since sparked a new wave of tensions between the radical Islamic movement ruling Gaza and the rival Fatah party of West Bank-based President Mahmoud Abbas.

Hamas had accused Fatah of being behind the blast. The three dailies, on the other hand, had quoted Fatah officials as saying than internal disputes within Hamas were behind the bombing.

Hamas cracked down on Fatah after the attack and the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights says that more than 160 Fatah members in the Strip have been arrested. The Hamas police also stormed the offices of the official Wafa news agency and arrested Saturday a cameraman working for Germany’s ARD television channel.

Fatah’s West Bank spokesman Ahmed Abdel Rahman said Hamas activities in the Gaza Strip had undermined all hopes of reconciliation between the two movements.

They have been at loggerheads since Hamas defeated Fatah in the January 2006 parliamentary elections in the Palestinian autonomous territories. The tensions came to a head a year ago when Hamas gunmen routed forces loyal to Abbas to seize control of security installations in the Gaza Strip.

Abbas retaliated by pulling Fatah out of a Hamas-led unity government and by sacking Hamas leader Ismail Haniya from his post of premier. Haniya has refused to accept his dismissal and continues to serve as de-facto prime minister in Gaza despite it.

Abbas had said in Cairo Sunday that Egypt would be coordinating talks between the two rival Palestinian groups, for the first time since they severed all ties as a result of the June 2007 Gaza takeover.

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