July 20, 2004

Vicious Circle


CNN reports: Palestinian prime minister says Gaza in 'chaos'.

Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Ahmed Qorei said Monday that Gaza was in "chaos," as two officials claimed to be chief of general security in Gaza and the West Bank. Meanwhile, Palestinian President Yasser Arafat, facing an unprecedented challenge to his power, said nothing. [...]

[Qorei] first announced his resignation Saturday after demanding greater power to revive Mideast peace efforts and to end turmoil and poverty gripping Gaza. Arafat refused Qorei's request for additional powers and verbally rejected his resignation. [...]

Sunday violence in Gaza included the burning of Palestinian intelligence offices in Khan Yunis by Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades -- a military offshoot of Fatah that Israel and the U.S. State Department considers to be a terrorist organization. The group also released people that the security services had been holding and stole weapons stored at the intelligence offices. Cars around the building were set afire.

Palestinian demonstrators exchanged gunfire Sunday with security service guards outside the Palestinian Authority's intelligence headquarters in Rafah in southern Gaza. Palestinian hospital sources said 10 people were wounded in the fighting that continued late into the night. Protesters complained corruption has characterized Arafat's leadership at the helm of the Palestinian Authority.

And The London Telegraph reports: Arafat forced to demote cousin as crisis deepens.

UPDATE: This Globe And Mail article reports that Arafat is resorting to censorship to conceal the chaos: Defiant Arafat reasserts grip on power. (Via James Taranto)

But the most troubling aspect of Mr. Arafat's reassertion of control was a warning to Palestinian journalists to cease all coverage of the kind of street protests that rocked the Gaza Strip and some West Bank cities last weekend. Reporters have also been threatened with severe punishment if they depict clashes between rival groups in the Gaza Strip, such as the gunfight in Rafah that injured 12 people on Sunday.

The ban effectively prevents international news outlets from covering these events, since they depend on Palestinian photographers, reporters and editors to produce news footage and written copy for broadcasters, print media and wire services.

The last time such threats were issued was in September of 2001, when Palestinian reporters were forced to suppress images of huge street celebrations in Nablus and Bethlehem after the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington. International news bureau chiefs for wire services including Reuters and Associated Press were warned that their cameramen would be in danger if their footage was broadcast in the West.

Posted by Forkum at July 20, 2004 12:03 AM