Since Hamas came to power in January 2006, journalists have faced the usual shooting from Israelis and, more recently, have been victims of fierce clashes between supporters of the Islamist Hamas and El Fatah, which supports President Mahmoud Abbas.
The August 2005 Israeli military withdrawal from Gaza raised hopes of better working conditions for journalists in the Palestinian Territories, but the split between Hamas and El Fatah set off a new wave of violence. The correspondent of the French daily Libération, Didier François, was wounded on 17 December 2006 in shooting in Gaza, which was the centre of this fighting.
Dozens of Palestinian journalists, labelled either pro-Hamas or pro-Fatah, were physically attacked. Reporters from public media were attacked while covering Hamas events. The offices of the public news agency WAFA were ransacked in September and equipment destroyed. The agency was attacked several times during the year after faction leaders and Hamas prime minister Ismael Haniyeh accused it of putting out El Fatah propaganda.
About 100 armed members of Hamas’ Ezzedin al Qassem Brigade stormed the TV transmission centre of the public Palestine Broadcasting Corporation (PBC) in Khan Yunis, in the southern Gaza Strip, in June, fired at equipment and attacked staff. Media supporting smaller factions were also attacked, such as the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP)’s radio station Sawt al Chaâb, whose studios were destroyed on 1 November and its only transmitter smashed.
Foreign journalists were also targeted. Six were kidnapped on 1 January and two Belgian reporters narrowly escaped being seized in Khan Yunis. All were freed after being held for between a few hours and several days. Two US journalists of Fox News, Steve Centanni and Olaf Wiig, were seized in Gaza on 14 August and held for two weeks by an unknown group which demanded the release within three days of all Muslims held by the United States.
The government failed to investigate these kidnappings but Reporters Without Borders considered that in most cases they were not political but the work of individuals or isolated groups seeking publicity or sometimes jobs.