Gaza: Hamas reopens Palestinian news agency

A Palestinian news agency closed down in the Gaza Strip for allegedly fabricating reports regarding Hamas and their support for pro-Morsi Egyptian Islamist groups is to reopen after four months.

The decision to allow work once again at the offices of Ma’an News Agency, the largest independent TV, radio and online media group in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, was the result of a meeting between the Hamas leader President Haniyeh and those of Palestinian factions on Saturday. According to Khaled al-Batsh, leader of the Islamic Jihad Movement, the meeting was called by Haniyeh to deliberate issues in the Gaza Strip, including potential reconciliation among Palestinian political factions. The Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah movement was not represented at the meeting.

A spokesman for Hamas, Ehab Ghissin, stated that Haniyeh “gave his instructions for the Ministry of Information to open the agency’s bureau” as long as Ma’an abides by professionalism and accuracy in its work.

The office of Ma’an was closed down in July after publishing reports suggesting Hamas was involved in supporting terror groups opposed to Egypt’s new regime. Citing Israeli sources the article stated the Hamas government gave refuge to fugitive leaders of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood in a Gaze hotel. After the meeting President Haniyeh spoke of the importance of a positive relationship between Egypt and Palestine, emphasising that Hamas is a national movement that does not depend on external organisations.

The decision to reopen the news office in Gaza was welcomed by Ma’an General Director, Raed Othman. “Ma’an aims to provide its media services to all Palestinians everywhere,” he said, adding that the news organisation will attempt to increase its activity in the area in the coming weeks.

The Saudi Arabian news channel Al-Arabiya was also shut down for the same reason and at the same time as Ma’an. Despite discussion during Saturday’s meeting to reopen Al-Arabiya too, the organisation remains closed in the Gaza Strip. The news channel has openly stated it was in favour of the removal of President Morsi from power.