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July 24, 2014

Hamas Targets Journalists in Gaza for Intimidation

Via the Jerusalem Post, journalists in Gaza are being threatened about how they might choose to report things.

Several journalists from around the world reported seeing rockets fired from civilian areas in Gaza in recent days, and received threatening tweets in return accusing them of "informing" the IDF.

...

@longitude0 wrote: "You are a cretin. Are you working for the IDF" and "in WWII spies got shot."

Financial Times Jerusalem Bureau Chief John Reed reported seeing "two rockets fired toward Israel from near al-Shifa hospital, even as more bombing victims were brought in."

Shifa, in Gaza City, is the main medical facility in the Strip.

In response, @Saritah_91 tweeted: "We'll hold you responsible if Israel uses your tweet to bomb the hospital & then justify it."

A hospital called al-Shifa, huh?

This rang a bell, because I had just began reading this report from the French paper La Liberation about a French/Palestinian reporter telling his own story of being intimidated by Hamas.

Here's a (clumsy) translation of the start of it.

[Headline:] "You must leave Gaza as soon as possible and stop working"

EYE WITNESS Palestinian journalist Radjaa Abou Dagga, reporter for "West France," and former contributor to "Liberation," recounts the attempts at intimdiation by Hamas.

... Radjaa Abou Dagga split his living for years between Paris, where he lives with his wife and son, and Gaza, where he lives with his parents and where he works. On June 18, when he wanted to cross the border at Rafah, an officer blocked his passage and kept his passport like they do with all of the Palestinians who try to cross from Egypt these days [that is, since Egypt blockaded the southern Gaza border].

After four weeks blocked from Gaza with explanation, the Palestinian journalist was summoned by the Hamas security service this last Sunday. "I received a call from a private number. It summoned me to the hospital Al-Shifa, in the middle of Gaza City," Radjaa explained. He brought with him his two telephones, his press card, and his little camera.

By the way: Yes, he's saying the Gaza internal security police keep their offices at a hospital in Shifa. Or at least they arrange interrogations there.

"ARE YOU A REPORTER FOR ISRAEL?"

A few meters outside the emergency room where the wounded from the bombings flowed past endlessly, he was met in the outpatient offices, "a little section of the hospital used as administration" by the group of young fighters. "They were very well dressed," said a surprised Radjaa. "Dressed in civilian clothes, with a pistol under their shirt and some having walkie-talkies." They ordered him to empty his pockets, take off his shoes and belt, and then he was called to a room in the hospital which served for the moment as the command offices of three people.

A man dressed to the nines began the interrogation: "Who are you? What is your name? What are you doing?"

"I was very surprised by their method of operation," said Radjaa, who showed the interrogator his press card as a response. The questions ran together. Everyone asked him then if he spoke Hebrew, if he had relations with Ramallah. The young partisans of Hamas interrogated him tenaciously: "Are you a reporter for Israel?"

Radjaa repeated that he worked only for French media and an Algerian radio channel.

It was then that the three men delivered him this message: "It's your choice. We are the local council. We're relaying to you the message of Qassam. You must remain at your house and turn over your passport."*

Stunned to be targeted by the brigades Ezzedine al-Qassam, the armed branch of Hamas, the armed branch of Hamas, Radjaa tried to defend himself and even just to understand why such a decision had been taken against him. In vain. "It's impossible to communicate with these people," the reporter said with bite.

...

"IT'S FOR THE BEST"

The man who seemed to be in charged relaxed finally and hit him with this**: "It's for the best that you leave Gaza as soon as possible. I don't want to see you here, you shouldn't leave your house anymore and you should stop working." It was explained to him that it was too dangerous for him to remain now in his hometown....

The messagers from Qassam wanted nothing misunderstood: "You are shut down." **

It was too late for him to leave the town, so he decided to sleep at the offices of a local press bureau. At ten at night, he received a call from the landlord telling him that he had to leave that place too -- apparently he'd gotten the word from Hamas.

But Radjaa convinced him to let him sleep the night.

Then, he got his ass out of there.

Incidentally, they also accused him of being some kind of agent of Mahmoud Abbas, the leader of Hamas' rival/partner Fatah.

And remember: this guy's a Palestinian who lives part of the year in Palestine.

* I assume that by "donner tes papiers" they mean "turn over your passport."

** I don't know if they're saying "hit him with this statement" or physically hit him. I'm inclined to think it's the former, or they'd've made a bigger deal out of it.

*** I'm a bit iffy on this "you are shut down" translation.

Update: Apparently the intimidation is complete.

If you click on the link now, it only reads:

Cet article, qui décrivait les tentatives d'intimidation à l'encontre du journaliste palestinien Radjaa Abou Dagga, correspondant de «Ouest France» et ancien collaborateur de «Libération», a été dépublié à sa demande.
This article, which described the attempts at intimidation against the Palestinian journalist Radjaa Abou Dagga, reporter from "France West" and former contributor to "La Liberation," has been removed at his request.

Mr. Dagga's parents still live in Gaza.

Thanks to David for pointing this pull-down out.


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