Palestinian PM urged to punish gunmen who attacked TV bureau

Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh waves to his supporters during a Hamas protest against aid cut to the Hamas-led Palestinian government at the Jabalya Refugee Camp in the northern Gaza Strip, April 14, 2006. (MaanImages/Wesam Saleh)

Reporters Without Borders condemned a 5 June 2006 attack on Palestinian national TV installations in the south of the Gaza Strip and urged Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh to put a stop to violence against journalists in the Palestinian territories. Witnesses blamed the attack on gunmen of the Ezzedine Al Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas.

“It is essential that effective measures are taken to ensure the physical safety of journalists,” Reporters Without Borders said. “We call on Prime Minister Haniyeh to do everything possible to shed light on the circumstances of this attack. It is unacceptable that working journalists are treated like this. This violence must not remain unpunished. If it is confirmed that the assailants were Hamas members, the Prime Minister must act accordingly and rein in his party’s activists and supporters.”

Palestinian TV cameraman Bassam Abdallah said: “About 100 gunmen, Al-Qassam members, overran the TV transmission centre at Khan Younes. They fired on material, smashed cameras and beat me as well as bureau chief Ahmed Sager.”

Journalist Mohammed Jouda said: “Hamas men also climbed on to the roof of the building and used automatic firearms to destroy the satellite dishes and transmission equipment.”

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri insisted that Hamas “had nothing to do with the attack.” But the attack came after accusations by Hamas activists that the TV station, which is controlled by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, was biased against the Islamist movement.

In a sign of protest after the attack, some employees placed gags over their mouths, cameramen laid their cameras on the ground and the station suspended its programming for 30 minutes.

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