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Hamas cracks down on Gaza media outlets

July 25, 2013|By Rushdi abu Alouf
  • A Palestinian worker carries a cooking gas cylinder in Gaza City this month.
A Palestinian worker carries a cooking gas cylinder in Gaza City this month. (Adel Hana / Associated Press…)

GAZA CITY -- Hamas authorities in the Gaza Strip shut down two Arab media offices Thursday, accusing them of spreading falsehoods about the Palestinian territory's increasingly rocky relationship with the new military-led Egyptian government.

In a statement, Hamas said it had shuttered the Gaza bureaus of the Dubai-based pan-Arab news channel Al Arabiya and the Bethlehem-based Maan News Agency. Hamas officials said the closures were temporary "until the proper legal measures are taken."

The militant Islamist group has controlled Gaza since 2007 and has strong ties to Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, which fell out of power in a recent military coup.

The crackdown comes after the two media outlets published reports that some leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood movement fled to Gaza after the Egyptian military ousted the country's first freely elected president, Mohamed Morsi, this month. The reports attributed the information to Israeli press reports and undisclosed sources.

Hamas has seen its relations with Egypt suffer since the military takeover. Hamas had close ties with Morsi, a longtime Muslim Brotherhood member before becoming president, but Egypt's military has never trusted Hamas, accusing it of fostering terrorism in the Sinai region and sending fighters to help Morsi's allies.

Since the the military takeover, border access through the Rafah crossing to Egypt has been restricted, and many smuggling tunnels providing construction materials and other supplies to Gaza have been destroyed by Egyptian soldiers, according to the United Nations.

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Abu Alouf is a special correspondent.

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