Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniya
Reporters Without Borders welcomes the Hamas government’s decision to let the Bethlehem-based Ma’an News Agency reopen its Gaza City bureau. Hamas government closed it in July after it quoted Israeli sources as saying Hamas
was providing refuge to Muslim Brotherhood officials who had fled Egypt.
“This decision is important for freedom of information in the Gaza Strip even if it just constitutes a return to normal,” Reporters Without Borders said. “It is positive, but it only rescinds a closure order that was arbitrary and unacceptable.”
Reporters Without Borders regrets that no decision has so far been taken on the reopening of the Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya TV’s Gaza City bureau, which was closed at the same time.
“Palestinian journalists must be able to cover sensitive subjects without being threatened or pressured by the authorities, political parties or armed groups,” Reporters Without Borders added.
The Ma’an News Agency bureau’s reopening was announced on 16 November after a meeting between the Gaza Strip’s prime minister, Ismael Haniyeh, and the representatives of various Palestinian factions, which did not, however, include Fatah. Ma’an News Agency general director Raed Othman welcomed the decision and said the bureau would resume operating as soon as its staff were allowed back into their offices.
When Gaza Strip prosecutor-general Ismail Jaber closed the Ma’an News Agency and Al-Arabiya TV bureaux on 25 July, he accused them of “fabricating news and disseminating false rumours and baseless reports that threaten civil peace and undermine the Palestinian people’s resistance.”