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MEE's Gaza reporter interrogated for hours by Hamas officials

Hind Khoudary says male interrogators shouted at her, threatened her with imprisonment and told her to remove Facebook posts
Hind Khoudary reporting from a protest along the Israel-Gaza border (Amnesty International)

Hind Khoudary, a freelance reporter for Middle East Eye based in Gaza, was interrogated for three hours by Hamas officials and threatened with imprisonment, she told MEE on Tuesday.

Khoudary, who also works as a consultant for human rights organisation Amnesty International, is one of several journalists detained by Hamas in recent days following their coverage of protests over living conditions in Gaza this weekend, according to local media and Amnesty.

The 23-year-old, who has reported extensively on the Great March of Return protests for MEE, said she was called in by security forces on Monday morning who said they needed to ask her a few questions about international organisations and would take five minutes.

She went to the foreign affairs media office in Gaza City with her husband, Aysar, and was waiting when a security officials approached her and asked why she seemed so relaxed. She and Aysar were then separated.

Khoudary said she was subjected to three hours of questioning in which four male interrogators shouted at her about her reporting and repeatedly hit the table in front of her where they had laid out copies of her Facebook posts.

She said her interrogators told her she would be imprisoned if she continued her work and asked her to remove her Facebook posts.

In a statement issued late on Monday, Amnesty raised concerns about Khoudary's treatment. 

“The authorities in Gaza have a duty to ensure that journalists and human rights defenders are free to carry out their work without threat, intimidation, or abuse,” said Saleh Higazi, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director.

Hamas responds

In its first public response to the protests, Hamas said it recognises the humanitarian crisis that Palestinians are facing in Gaza, saying that the group itself is suffering like everyone else living in the besieged strip.

Hamas condemned any assault against citizens, expressing regret for any physical or psychological harm suffered by protesters. It also called on security forces to compensate anyone who had been wronged.

"We call on human rights organisations, which we value and respect, to continue their work in supporting citizens in Gaza and remind them of their duties towards all Palestinians, wherever they are, against all forms of abuse," Hamas said in a statement.

"And we stress the right to peaceful assembly and free expression, as it has been the case in the Gaza Strip throughout the past years."