Khaled Abu Toameh
The Jerusalem Post
March 28, 2011 - 12:00am

Hamas policemen used force to disperse the protesters, who were calling for an end to the dispute between the Islamist movement and Fatah. The rallies were part of a Facebook campaign organized by Palestinian youth on March 15.

At least eight journalists were beaten by the Hamas police officers during the rallies.

Some had their cameras and laptops confiscated, while others were taken into custody and made to sign a document pledging to refrain from covering such events in the future.

Later, Hamas security personnel raided the offices of a number of media organizations and confiscated equipment and documents. Among the offices targeted were Reuters, CNN and a Japanese TV network.

One of the female journalists, Samah Ahmed, complained that a Hamas policeman in military uniform stabbed her in the back as she tried to leave the al-Katiba Square, where pro-unity protesters were staging a sit-in strike.

She said that she and another female journalist, Asma al- Ghoul, were later also beaten with clubs before they were taken to detention.

“At the police station, they continued to beat us and curse us,” Ahmed told the Palestinian news agency Aswar Press. “When they realized that I was bleeding from the area where I was stabbed, the police interrogators sent me to hospital.”

A number of Palestinian women journalists complained on Sunday that they had been beaten and tortured by Hamas security forces in the Gaza Strip.

They said the assaults occurred in recent days when they and their colleagues tried to cover pro-unity rallies in different parts of the Gaza Strip.

She added that the Hamas police officers who accompanied her to the hospital forced the medical team to admit her under a different name and to list her as a victim of a traffic accident.

Jihan al-Sirsawi, another woman who works as a journalist in the Gaza Strip, said that the police officers who attacked the demonstrators beat her severely.

“They used electrical shocks against us,” she said. “They beat me so strongly that I lost consciousness and fell to the ground. I woke up only 15 minutes later.”

Two more female journalists, Manal Khamis and Dima al-Lababidi, also complained that Hamas policemen had beaten them up during the demonstration. Khamis said that the policemen confiscated her mobile phone and attacked her physically. Al- Lababidi accused the Hamas policemen of hitting her on the back with an iron chair.

The two said that the Hamas security officers also set fire to a tent that was being used by the journalists in the square.

The Hamas government last week apologized for the attacks on some of the journalists and promised to launch an investigation. The apology came during a meeting between representatives of the journalists and the Hamas Interior Minister.


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