No one was injured but much of the office’s equipment was destroyed in the attack, for which there has been no official claim of responsibility.
The attack came amid a surge in tension in the past few days between Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, and Fatah led by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, which has its stronghold in the West Bank.
Palestine TV, which is part of the Palestinian Authority-run Palestinian Broadcasting Corporation (PBC), stopped operating in the Gaza Strip after Hamas took control there in 2007, but partially resumed operations in 2011.
“We call on the relevant Palestinian authorities to identify those responsible for this attack,” said Sophie Anmuth, the head of RSF’s Middle East desk. “Journalists must be able to work independently and must stop being victims of the rivalry between the different factions in the Gaza Strip.”
“Hamas has full responsibility for the destruction,” PBC chairman Ahmad Assaf told journalists in the West Bank. But Salama Maarouf, the head of the Hamas information office, said it supported Palestine TV’s management in Gaza City and was monitoring efforts to identify those responsible for the attack.
Palestinian Authority spokesperson Youssef al Mahmoud meanwhile condemned “groups fomenting chaos” and “little revolutionaries,” without specifying whether he was referring to Hamas supporters or to Fatah’s former leader in Gaza, Mohammed Dahlan, who is an Abbas rival.
As a result of the rivalry between the different Palestinian factions, journalists in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank are subject to frequent harassment and are often summoned for interrogation.
They are also exposed to Israeli military abuses, which RSF referred to the International Criminal Court last year when two reporters were shot dead by Israeli soldiers and many were wounded during protests on the border between Gaza and Israel. In the West Bank, Israeli soldiers arrested in 2018 about twenty journalists, among whom more than ten are still in administrative detention today.
The Palestinian Territories are ranked 135th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2018 World Press Freedom Index.