Fatah gunmen on Saturday threatened to shut the offices of the pan-Arab Al-Arabiyah satellite TV station in the West Bank and Gaza Strip after accusing it of "defaming" Palestinian female suicide bombers and their families.
Leaflets distributed by Fatah's armed wing, the Aksa Martyrs Brigades, demanded that the Dubai-based station apologize to the families in particular and the Palestinians in general within 24 hours or else its offices would be closed.
"At a time when the Muslims and Islam are facing a political, intellectual, economic and social offensive by all the forces of evil in the world, Al-Arabiya has aired a scandalous and despicable film that is completely biased in favor of the executioner at the expense of the victims of occupation," the leaflets charged.
"This film depicts female suicide bombers as a group of women suffering from psychological problems and who are under pressure from males. It claims that in order to rid themselves of these problems, these women are prepared to kill themselves. They also claimed that these women were ill- behaved."
The group hailed female suicide bombers for their role in "defending the people and the land," saying they had brought honor to Islam and Muslims worldwide.
The Aksa Martyrs Brigades strongly condemned the documentary and demanded an investigation to find out who had financed it and who was behind it. "If Al-Arabiya does not apologize within 24 hours, we will have to close down their offices in the West Bank and Gaza Strip," the group warned.
Journalists working for Al-Arabiya expressed deep concern over the threats made by the Aksa Martyrs Brigades. "We were not involved in the film," one of them told The Jerusalem Post. "The film was produced by a foreign company and purchased by Al-Arabiya."
Saif Eddin Shaheen, a correspondent in the Gaza Strip for Al- Arabiya, was attacked in 2004 by Fatah gunmen for reporting on the power struggle in Fatah.
Five masked gunmen attacked Shaheen as he was driving to his Gaza City office. During the attack, which lasted about 10 minutes, he was beaten and his assailants fired shots in the air. One of his attackers, who identified himself as a Fatah member, said he would "teach him a lesson in journalism."
Four months earlier, on September 13, 2003 a group of armed men ransacked the offices of the same television station in Ramallah. The Palestinian Authority publicly condemned the incidents and announced the opening of an investigation, but no one was arrested.