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Union chief condemns Hamas media crackdown

Aug. 18, 2013 12:08 P.M. (Updated: Sept. 15, 2013 11:11 A.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- Head of the government employees union Bassam Zakarneh on Sunday condemned Hamas for violating press freedoms in Gaza.

The union head slammed the Islamist movement for targeting news agencies and journalists who had published stories about Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.

Hamas security forces have organized rallies against Ma'an News Agency in Gaza and have instructed officers to detain journalists, Zakarneh added.

He urged international organizations to intervene to protect Palestinian journalists in Gaza.

On Saturday, dozens of people demonstrated outside Ma'an News Agency's Gaza bureau to protest the agency's coverage of events in Egypt and Gaza.

Head of the Palestinian journalists syndicate Abdul-Nasser Najjar told Ma'an that Hamas had ordered the demonstration against Ma'an, saying the Islamist group aims to terrorize media institutions and suppress media pluralism.

Ma'an's Gaza bureau has been closed since July 25.

The attorney-general in the Hamas-run government ordered the closure after Hamas officials accused Ma'an of deliberately publishing "false news reports seeking to incite against Gaza."

The attorney general in Gaza said Friday that the closures of Ma’an Network and al-Arabiya are temporary, but he accused both outlets of disseminating information "unprofessionally."

Gaza officials have not indicated when the offices will be reopened.
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