JERUSALEM - Palestinian journalists who last week met with their Israeli colleagues and an IDF spokesman in Tel Aviv have come under fire from both Hamas and Fatah.
The trip was arranged by the non-profit Israel advocacy group The Israel Project, whose Web site described the group as “an international non-profit organization devoted to educating the press and the public about Israel while promoting security, freedom and peace.”
The journalists met with Maj. Avichai Edri, head of the Arabic-language branch of the IDF Spokesman’s Office.
Three of the journalists – Lana Shaheen, Mueen al-Hilu and Abdel Salam Abu Askar – are from the Gaza Strip, while another two are from the West Bank.
They now face expulsion from the Fatah-controlled Palestinian Journalists Syndicate on charges of promoting normalization with Israel.
The syndicate decided to establish a committee to question the journalists who went to Tel Aviv about their motives and the identity of the party behind the invitation.
The syndicate is also planning to hold an emergency meeting next week to discuss punitive measures against Palestinian journalists who defy a ban on normalization of relations with Israel.
Hamas has also condemned the Palestinian journalists as “collaborators.” Hamas officials claimed that some of the journalists were known as supporters of Mohammed Dahlan, a former Fatah security commander in the Gaza Strip.
Several Hamas-affiliated groups said that the journalists who visited Israel would be put on a “black list” – a sign that they would be boycotted by their colleagues and the government institutions.
One of the groups, the Democratic Press Association, called on the journalists to “repent” and express publicly apologize for visiting the “Zionist entity and meeting with Zionist reporters.”
It described the journalists’ visit to Tel Aviv as a “despicable and harmful” act, saying it came at a time when the “Zionist occupation army was killing Palestinians. This visit does not represent the positions and morals of Palestinian journalists.”
Wisam Afifeh, editor-in-chief of Hamas’s Al-Resalah newspaper, said that condemnations were not enough. He called on all Palestinian journalists to “disown” and “distance” themselves from the journalists who were invited to Tel Aviv.
Ahmed Daloul, a Palestinian journalist from the Gaza Strip, also launched a scathing attack on the same journalists, accusing them of embarking on an “adventure” aimed at normalizing ties with Israel.
“These journalists did not leave the besieged Gaza Strip to receive education or medical treatment or to defend their cause, but to tour Tel Aviv and meet with Zionist journalists,” he said. “The climax of their visit was a meeting with an Israeli army spokesman.”
Daloul added: “It’s really a tragedy that these people call themselves Palestinian journalists. By getting involved in normalization [with Israel], they dealt a blow to their people and colleagues, whose image has now been tarnished.”
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