By DIAA HADID
Associated Press Writer
¶ GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) _ An Israeli reporter who traveled by boat to Hamas-ruled Gaza last month, defying her country's blockade of the territory, returned to Israel Monday after Hamas officials told her to leave because of security concerns.
¶ Amira Hass, an award-winning writer for the Israeli daily Haaretz, crossed into Israel on Monday afternoon. She said Hamas officials did not provide details about the alleged dangers to her safety.
¶ Hass defied her country's ban on Israeli citizens entering Gaza, in place since the outbreak of Israeli-Palestinian fighting in 2000. The danger to Israelis was highlighted after Palestinian militants, including those from Hamas, captured Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit in a cross-border raid in 2006. Schalit remains in Hamas custody.
¶ Israel also maintains a blockade on Gaza, imposed after Hamas seized power there last year.
¶ Hass arrived in Gaza on Nov. 8 on a boat carrying pro-Palestinian activists who are trying to draw attention to hardship in Gaza as a result of the border closures. Israel let the boats through, but on Monday turned back a Libyan freighter that was to deliver 3,000 tons of humanitarian aid to Gaza.
¶ Hass said she had hoped to stay in Gaza until January.
¶ Shadowy Gaza groups have kidnapped reporters in the past. However, no journalists have been kidnapped since Hamas seized power.
¶ Security officials from Hamas accompanied Hass while she was in Gaza. Hass said she did not request Hamas escorts.
¶ Hamas spokesmen were not available for comment on Monday.
¶ Hass, known for her sympathetic coverage of the Palestinians, is well known in the Gaza Strip. She wrote a book about Gaza and lived in the territory for several years. She currently lives in the West Bank town of Ramallah.
¶ Hass is the recipient of several awards for her reporting, including from the United Nations in 2003.