RSF has learned that Hamas issued the ban today in response to a report broadcast by Al Arabiya on 12 July that contained lies, according to Hamas. Al Arabiya’s two correspondents in the Gaza Strip have been notified of the ban.
The Al Arabiya report said several members of Hamas had been arrested for allegedly working for Israel and a Hamas military officer commander had fled to Israel. The Hamas interior ministry issued a statement the same day accusing Al Arabiya of “deceit,” of publishing “fabricated information” and of “spreading rumours and lies.”
“Hamas must lift this ban and allow the journalists employed by Al Arabiya to work freely and in fully pluralistic manner,” said Sabrina Bennoui, the head of RSF’s Middle East desk. “The political differences between Hamas and the Saudi authorities do not in any way justify a blanket ban on journalists working for this TV channel or any other media outlet, regardless of its political position.”
Al Arabiya has been officially banned in the Gaza Strip since Hamas took control of its government in 2006. Although it does not have a bureau, it had nonetheless been tolerated since Israel’s “Pillar of Defence” military operation in Gaza in 2012, and local journalists, including the two correspondents, had been able to cover major events for the channel.
Palestine is ranked 137th out of 180 countries and territories in RSF's 2020 World Press Freedom Index.