Masked men assault Arabiya correspondent in Gaza

PCHR strongly condemns the attack this afternoon on Seif al-Din Shahin, Gaza correspondent for the al-Arabiya satellite channel.  A group of unidentified individuals attacked Shahin apparently because of their opposition to recent press reports made by Shahin.  PCHR considers this violent action an attack on the freedom of the press, of opinion, of expression and the freedom to impart and receive information.  PCHR calls upon the Palestinian Authority and the Palestinian Attorney General to conduct a full and fair investigation into the incident and to bring those found responsible to justice in accordance with the rule of law. 

According to preliminary investigations conducted by PCHR, at approximately 13:15 on Thursday, 8 January 2004, Seif al-Din Shahin, 35, was traveling in his car with ‘Emad ‘Eid, correspondent of the Lebanese al-Manar satellite channel.  Shahin and ‘Eid had just left the offices of the al-Arabiya satellite channel in the center of Gaza city.  Five armed individuals, four of whom wore masks, intercepted the car, dragged Shahin from the vehicle and then proceeded to beat him.  The group then escaped.  Shahin was taken to Shifa Hospital in Gaza city.  Medical sources confirmed that he had sustained bruising throughout the body. 

Shahin reported having received a phone call a few days ago, in which an unidentified individual, who claimed to be a member of a political faction, demanded that Shahin not make negative comments about the political group in reports he prepared for the al-Arabiya satellite channel. 

 Shahin has been attacked before because of opposition to his press work.  On 21 December 2001, he was attacked in a similar incident by unidentified individuals.  He was also arrested by Palestinian security services on 6 January 2003, allegedly in response to his TV reports.