Hamas Shuts Al Arabiya, Maan, Other Media Offices in Gaza

Gaza-based production company shut for 'collaboration with Zionist media,' Al Arabiya and Maan for reporting 'false news,' Hamas says.

Gaza's Hamas rulers closed the offices of three media companies, including the Saudi-owned Al Arabiya television and Palestinian news agency Maan, on Thursday, employees and a Hamas spokesman said.

Al Arabiya and Maan employees said Hamas security personnel had arrived at their offices with an order from the attorney general to shut down immediately and a Hamas spokesman said the step was temporary, until an investigation was concluded.

"The attorney general received complaints, including from the Ministry of Information, that Al Arabiya and Maan reported false news, fabrications and lies," said Hamas government spokesman Ehab Ghsain.

Ghsain did not single out any news reports, but Hamas officials have in the past few days criticized coverage by Al Arabiya and Maan of the Islamist group's tense relations with Egypt's new rulers as "damaging" to the Palestinian people.

Maan and Al-Arabiya were accused of biased coverage of the events in Egypt, and a senior Maan editor told Haaretz that the decision was made due to the translation of an article that opposed the Muslim Brotherhood taken from American and Israeli press.

The ousting by the Egyptian army of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi by the army has dealt a blow to Hamas, which is an offshoot of Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood.

The Egyptian military has cracked down on tunnels used to smuggle goods and arms into Gaza from Egypt since Morsi's fall, choking the flow of goods into the Israeli-blockaded enclave.

Hamas has rejected suggestions that Gaza militants might be helping their counterparts in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, where Egyptian security sources say radical groups have been launching almost daily attacks on Egyptian forces.

Apart from Al Arabiya and Maan, Ghsain said the office of a Gaza-based production company called Lens was shut for "collaboration with Zionist media." An employee of Lens said it had been contracted to report for a new news channel based in Israel.

Maan is based in the West Bank where U.S.-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, a rival of Hamas, heads the Palestinian Authority, which has limited self-rule in the territory.