MADA condemns attacks against journalists in Gaza Strip

PNN/Ramallah- 19/6/2018

The Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA) strongly condemns the attacks on journalists and participants in the sit-in held on Monday (18/6/2018) in Saraya Square in Gaza City to demand an end to the internal Palestinian division and demands and pay the salaries of Gaza employees that were cut off.

MADA calls for the formation of an independent commission to investigate these attacks and publish the results of its findings and hold all involved parties accountable.

According to more than one source and eyewitness who were present at the scene, groups of people affiliated with Hamas movement that governs the Gaza Strip (dozens), arrived to Saraya Square wearing black/ blue shirts with white caps and scarfs (Palestinian Kuffieh)  while carrying batons and infiltrated the demonstrators, Broke the sit-in platform and loudspeakers, and beat the participants and dispersed them.

At least eight journalists, including cameraman Rashad al-Omssi and correspondent Waseem Mekdad, both works for the Khabr press agency, were attacked and beaten and their cameras were destroyed. Journalists, Sherine Hamed Khalifa, NahedKhalil Abu Arbeed and Muthanna al-Najjar, Abd al-Rahman al-‘Abadla and ‘Izz al-Din Abu’ Aisha, were all prevented from covering, their mobile phones were confiscated and some of the material captured were deleted.

Journalist Sherine Khalifa  posted on her personal facebook page on this matter “While me and journalist Nahed Abu Arbeed were present to cover the event, a person who identified himself as a detective came to us and asked us to open our mobile phones in front of him and to delete the pictures we took to witness the smashing of the sit-in platform and said, when you are allowed to cover and capture photos in West Bank you will be allowed to cover here, when I told him that my mobile has personal pictures, the person accompanying him replied: “We will bring you a woman to search your mobile and delete the pictures.””

Mada Center calls for holding all perpetrators accountable including all those who participated or were involved in these attacks, including the official bodies responsible for the security of the citizens and the protection of their rights to demonstrate and express their opinion, MADA expresses its grave concern over the seriousness of these attacks and the responsibility of officials who are hiding behind groups of “Civilians” to attack journalists and demonstrators, MADA also confirms that the announcement of the absence of police and security personnel in the arena (where the sit-in), does not exempt the police and security services from the direct responsibility for the occurrence of such attacks that appear to be willful and intentional whose role should be providing protection to demonstrators, even if we excluded the assurances from eyewitnesses that the perpetrators of these attacks are affiliated with the Hamas movement, which controls the Gaza Strip.