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Gaza court issues gag order over killing of Hamas leader amid heightened security measures

March 27, 2017 7:21 P.M. (Updated: March 28, 2017 2:53 P.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- The attorney general of the Hamas-run government in the besieged Gaza Strip issued a gag order on Monday banning publication of any information about the ongoing investigation into the killing of Hamas leader and former prisoner of Israel Mazen Fuqahaa in Gaza City on Friday, which Hamas has branded as an assassination by Israel.

According to the order by Attorney General Ismail Jabir, media outlets -- including “new media” and activists in seeming reference to social media networks -- are forbidden from quoting unidentified sources or Hebrew-language news outlets regarding the case, with the office of the Attorney General and Gaza’s Ministry of Interior being the only sources authorized to comment on the case.

Any breach of the order would prompt legal procedures and possible punishment, the order added.

The gag order was reminiscent of Israeli policies imposed on Israeli media over sensitive judicial cases.

The Gaza Ministry of Interior relaxed its strict closure of border crossings on Monday after stark restrictions on all of the Gaza Strip's land and sea borders on Sunday and a fierce security crackdown across the besieged coastal enclave seeking to apprehend the individuals responsible for Fuqahaa’s death.

Ministry spokesperson Iyad al-Buzm said in a statement that starting Monday until further notice, passage for medical patients, family members of Palestinian prisoners traveling to visit their relatives in Israeli prison, women of all ages, boys under the age of 15, men above the age of 45, and three Palestinian Authority ministers would be allowed to leave the Gaza Strip through Erez, while entering Gaza from Israel would be allowed for all.

The age restrictions mirrored the limitations imposed by Israeli authorities on Palestinians seeking to enter Israel and occupied East Jerusalem.

Fuqahaa was shot with four bullets to the head in front of a residence in southwestern Gaza City on Friday night, with Hamas officials saying the assassination was carried out with a silenced gun by assailants who were “collaborating” with Israel. Hamas has yet to provide proof to support the accusation.

The well known Hamas leader was from the northern occupied West Bank district of Tubas, and served nine years out of a life sentence in Israeli custody before he was released in 2012 as part of Gilad Shalit prisoners exchange deal. He was then exiled to the besieged Gaza Strip.

The majority of the nearly two million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip are sealed inside the coastal enclave due to the continuation of a near-decade long military blockade imposed by Israel and upheld by Egypt on the southern border.
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