BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- A Palestinian media group on Tuesday criticized both Hamas and Ma'an Network following the closure of Ma'an's Gaza office and the television network's decision to end its work in the coastal territory.
The Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedom "demands the canceling of ... (the) closure decision in Gaza, and the reopening of their offices immediately, where the closure continued for more than two months, which led Ma'an ... to conduct (a) harsh and unusual step to halt the work of its office employees there yesterday."
MADA said that a decision by Hamas to reopen the Gaza City bureau could end the problem and lead to the return of journalists to their work, stressing that the media group was also "absolutely against any actions against journalists who have no guilt in the closure decision."
The decision by Gaza's public prosecutor to close the media offices on July 25 was "illegal" and a "clear violation" of Palestinian Basic Law and the Printing and Publications Law, MADA said.
"We renew our call again for freedom of expression respect in Palestine, and not to involve journalists and the media outlets in the internal Palestinian differences, where they have been suffering from serious violations since the beginning of the division in mid-June 2007," the group added.
Ma'an Network announced Monday that it would stop working in the Gaza Strip as it seeks to recoup financial losses from the Hamas government's July closure of its Gaza City office.
Ma'an said that the Hamas government had seized control of its office and equipment in the weeks since the closure and it could therefore no longer justify paying expenses toward the operation.
On Tuesday, Ehab al-Ghussein, a spokesman for the Hamas-run government in Gaza, said the Hamas government is ready to absorb former staff "until they find another work opportunity."
He added: "Instead of complying with initiatives by several journalists from different directions suggesting that Ma'an rectify its course, which has seriously moved away from professionalism, the news agency continues with its immoral conduct by abusively firing its employees."