The ongoing dispute between Fatah and Hamas has brought about a crackdown on media in both the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.
Several media offices have been shut down over the past few days, raising concerns about media freedom in the Palestinian areas.
Palestinian security forces in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip have taken measures against media outlets and journalists.
The media war is also affecting foreign outlets. Palestinian journalist Sawah Abu Seif, a cameraman with the German ARD television channel, was arrested by Hamas forces in Gaza over the weekend on suspicion of Fatah activities.
There are fears he is being subjected to torture. ARD has closed its offices in Gaza in protest, until Abu Seif is released safely.
“Events such as this seriously affect the international media’s ability to cover Gaza,” the Foreign Press Association in Israel said of his arrest.
The three main Palestinian newspapers, Al-Hayyat Al-Jadida, Al-Ayyam and Al-Quds, all of which are aligned to some degree with the Palestinian Authority, are not being distributed in the Gaza Strip.
Two journalists, Mu’stafa ‘Sabri and’Alaa A-Titi have been arrested in the West Bank.
The Palestinian Authority in Ramallah is banning distribution of two Hamas newspapers, A-Risala and Filistin, in the West Bank, the Hamas-run Al-Aq’sa television channel reported.
The media war is part of the ongoing conflict between Fatah and Hamas. Hamas won the legislative elections in January 2006 and took over the Gaza Strip in a violent coup in June 2007, further heightening tension with the Fatah movement.
Since the takeover, there has been a de facto separation between the Gaza Strip, which is dominated by Hamas and has its own Hamas government, and the West Bank, which has a government backed and recognized by the West.
The government in Ramallah is denying it is stifling media freedom and maintains any measures against journalists are for security purposes.
The Hamas government in the Gaza Strip says journalists there are not being arrested because of their journalistic work.
A spokesman for the Hamas government told Al-Jazeera the three West Bank newspapers which were not being circulated in Gaza were constantly adopting contradicting narratives and language and that the decision to ban the papers was political.
He also accused the official Palestinian news agency WAFA of “distributing false and inaccurate stories” and of using language that offended the people and causes division in society.
Armed Hamas members stormed WAFA offices in Gaza on Saturday, effectively shutting down their operations there.
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