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Austria arrests director of Gaza-based news agency due to Israel pressure

Mustafa Ayyash, the founder and director of Gaza Now news agency (Photo via social media)

Austrian police authorities have arrested the director of a Palestinian news agency based in the Gaza Strip, which is aligned with the Hamas resistance movement, following spurious allegations and intense pressure from the Tel Aviv regime’s officials.

Gaza Now News Network wrote in a post published on the social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter, that “the occupying Israeli regime is trying hard to prosecute anyone connected to the Palestinian media as part of attempts to silence the voice of wounded Gaza and stop disclosure of the Palestinian nation’s sufferings and the massacres being committed against women, children and the elderly.”

It added, “The latest of such attempts was the prosecution of Palestinian-born journalist Mustafa Ayyash. Austrian police stormed his house, tampered with his personal belongings, confiscated electronic devices, arrested him and his wife, and took him for interrogation.”

Gaza Now noted that the Austrian police hacked its WhatsApp account, which is followed by 300,000 users, and closed it down. They also shut the news network’s Facebook pages and accounts, which are followed by some eight million users.

It underscored that Israeli officials threaten Ayyash from time to time with prosecution and assassination, and hamper the activities of the news network on social media platforms.

This comes as the Israeli military had earlier targeted Ayyash's family and killed scores of his relatives in a series of airstrikes in late November ahead of a temporary ceasefire.

The Permanent Observer of Palestine at the United Nations Salah Abdel-Shafi and Chairman of Hamas Political Bureau Ismail Haniyeh mourned the death of his family.

Back on March 27, US and UK authorities unveiled sanctions against two people and three companies related to Gaza Now over alleged fundraising efforts “in support of Hamas.”

The Treasury Department said in a statement that Gaza Now, whose popular Telegram channel has more than 1.8 million followers, and its founder started fundraising for Hamas after the movement’s Operation al-Aqsa Storm against Israel on October 7.

The US also slapped sanctions against Aozma Sultana, the director of two companies that allegedly gave “thousands of dollars to Gaza Now and advertised Gaza Now as a partner during a joint fundraiser shortly after the large-scale surprise attack.”

Separately, the UK Treasury announced a full asset freeze against two individuals suspected of providing financial support for Gaza Now.

“All funds and economic resources in the UK belonging to or controlled by Sultana and Ayyash have been frozen,” they added.

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