By Carolyn Abdenour
Impunity Watch Reporter, Middle East
RAMALLAH, Palestine – Before dawn on Wednesday, 29 February, about 30 Israeli Defense Force (“IDF”) troops seized transmission equipment, documents, and computers during raids at two private Palestinian TV stations. Palestinian officials asserted the raids violated media freedom. Palestinian Prime Minster Salam Fayyad stated the raids were “oppressive and monstrous” and violated “all international laws.”
IDF raided the Ramallah-based Jerusalem Education TV, a station owned by the Palestinian Al-Quds University, and al-Watan TV, a suspected pirate TV station. Israel’s Communications Ministry initiated the raids claiming the frequencies from the stations interfered with aircraft communications at Ben-Gurion International Airport and legal broadcasters throughout Israel.
Moreover, the Israeli ministry stated the broadcasting frequencies violated Israeli-Palestinian agreements. IDF spokesperson further reported the raids occurred after the stations ignored several warnings from Israel’s Communication Ministry to stop broadcasting. He also asserted the IDF legally confiscated the items.
After the raids occurred, the Palestinian Authority emphasized that it did not receive these warnings and that the stations did not violate agreements.
Director of the Institute of Modern Media at Al-Quds University, the operator of the TV station, Lucy Nusseibeh urged, “We have all our licenses through the Palestinian Ministry of Communications and are in constant touch with them. I never heard anything about Israeli complaints or warnings.”
Ms. Nusseibeh reaffirmed the station is “an education television station, which puts on ‘Sesame Street’, antismoking programs and broadcasts to help integrate handicapped children into the community.”
During his visits to the raided TV stations, Mr. Fayyad said the raids undermined his government and called upon the international community to persuade Israel to cease these raids. He added, “This is a clear aggression against what remains of the Palestinian Authority.” Mr. Fayyad promised to provide both stations with replacement transmitters.
Al-Watan, owned by three non-governmental associations, frequently airs Palestinian protests in the West Bank against Israeli policies. Mustafa Barhouti, legislator of the station’s part-owner Palestinian Medical Relief Society, said, “This is an act of repression of the freedom of the media in Palestine, and of repression of the popular resistance that we believe in.”
Al-Watan’s station director Moammar Orabi recalled an IDF officer told the employees to “say hello to Khader Adnan,” the Palestinian prisoner protesting his detention with a two-month hunger strike. A worker at the raid stated the raiders “became very angry when they saw Khader Adnan’s photo hanging on our office wall.”
Mr. Fayyad added, “This piracy and raids on Palestinian media institutions are reminiscent of practices by the occupations forces in the beginning of the second intifada, when they stored and vandalized many Palestinian media institutions, including Palestine TV, Palestine Radio as well as Watan TV.”
For further information, please see:
Daily Times – Israel Raids Palestinian Television Stations – 1 Mar 2012
Arutz Sheva – IDF Raids Two Ramallah Pirate TV Stations – 29 Feb 2012
New York Times – Israel Troops Raid Two Palestinian TV Stations in the West Bank – 29 Feb 2012
The Times of Israel – IDF Raids Ramallah TV Station – 29 Feb 2012
The Times of Israel – IDF Shuts Down Pirate TV Stations In Ramallah – 29 Feb 2012