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Al-Arabiya's offices in Gaza
Photo: AFP
Bomb shatters al-Arabiya TV office in Gaza
Arabic-language satellite news channel reportedly targeted for saying that Hamas leader and PM Haniyeh had cursed God at opening of government meeting

A bomb exploded in the Gaza Strip offices of a leading Arabic-language news channel late Monday evening, Palestinian eyewitnesses said, causing severe property damage but no injuries.

 

It is widely believed that the Saudi-owned TV channel al-Arabiya was targeted over a report aired last week in which it was claimed that Palestinian Prime Minister and Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh cursed God.

 

"Even if God sets conditions for us, we will reject this," Haniyeh was heard saying in a news footage broadcast on al-Arabiya.

 

Hamas officials said Haniyeh's comments were taken out of contest, claiming he was quoting a Fatah official who had made similar remarks during an interview with Hizbullah's mouthpiece al-Manar TV.

 

They also claimed that al-Arabiya deliberately singled out the remark to slander Haniyeh instead of airing other parts of the conversation he was having with Foreign Minister Mahmoud al-Zahar.

 

Wave of threats  

Demands by the Hamas-led government that the Saudi broadcaster apologize for the report were shunned, prompting a wave of threats against al-Arabiya.

 

Hamas and President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah movement have been locked in a bloody power struggle since the Islamic group won the general elections last year.

 

Hamas has been reluctant to heed calls by the international community that it recognize Israel and renounce violence as preconditions to lift a financial boycott imposed on the Hamas-led government since last Januray.

 

Fatah strongman in Gaza Muhammad Dahlan recently accused the Qatar-based al-Jazeera news channel of being biased for Hamas, charging that the popular outlet is a mouthpiece for the Islamic group.

 

Hamas supporters refer to al-Arabiya TV as 'al-Ibriya', meaning 'the Hebraic' in Arabic instead of 'the Arab' (channel), accusing the news channel of promoting American and Israeli interests in the Middle East.

 

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