Wednesday 29 February 2012


Staff member of the local private television station "Watan", look at the damage caused after Israeli troops raided this and another Palestinian television station in the West Bank city of Ramallah. Israeli troops raided two Palestinian television stations in the West Bank city of Ramallah overnight, seizing computers and broadcasting equipment.

During Operation Cast Lead, among the first targets of the Israeli military were the communications stations of Palestines.  Under trumped up allegations, once again, Israel strikes to destroy communications between the people of Palestine. 

Considering that Israel is just itching for another opportunity to spill Palestinian blood, and set on a path of provocation to draw response or retaliation from the people of this besieged territory, one can draw many conclusions from this action. 

Or, one can be oblivious and really believe the official Israeli party line.

February 29, 2012

Israeli forces raided two Palestinian television networks early Wednesday in Ramallah and briefly detained four employees, journalists said.

Soldiers confiscated computers used by editors and reporters in local private station Watan TV’s newsroom and general offices as well as administrative and financial files, the network said.

Troops also raided Al-Quds Educational TV in Al-Bireh and confiscated its broadcasting equipment, the head of its TV department Haroun Abu Irreh told Ma’an.

“They came at 2:00 am (0000 GMT) and took around 30 computers and all the transmitters. The station is totally shut down,” Watan’s editor in chief, Ali Daraghmeh, told AFP.

“One of our guards tried to stop the army, but they told him they had official orders to close the station.”

Haroun Abu Arra, director of Quds Educational TV, said troops raided his station shortly afterwards.

“At 3:00 am (0100 GMT), the Israeli army entered the television station’s office and took all the transmitters, and the station is now unable to broadcast,” he said.

“This attack is nothing but piracy under a policy of systematic attack targeting Palestinian media organizations and journalists,” Watan TV said in a statement.

The network “deplores this aggressive behavior against an efficient and effective media organization,” and said it will restore the stolen equipment and transmitters and to try to resume broadcasts.

An Israeli army spokeswoman said soldiers were accompanying an operation by the country’s communications ministry, which had determined that the networks were broadcasting illegally.

She claimed the raids came after “multiple requests” from the Israeli communications ministry to the two stations to halt operations.

“IDF (Israel Defence Forces) soldiers accompanied an operation of the ministry of communications to close two pirate television stations in Ramallah,” she said.

“This station significantly interrupts other legal broadcasting stations and interferes with aircraft communications.”

“During the operation and in accordance with law, the communications ministry confiscated several transmitters.”

“Illegal broadcasting interfered with aircraft communication, which is very, very dangerous.”

No one at the communications ministry was immediately available for comment.

But Palestinian telecommunications minister Mashour Abu Daqqa angrily rejected the claims, saying Israel had failed to make any official complaint through the proper channels to the Palestinian Authority.
“They are liars,” Abu Daqqa told AFP. “If there is any problem, we have an Israel-Palestinian coordination committee and we discuss any problems regarding frequencies all the time.

“We didn’t receive anything through this committee and we believe that the Israeli army wants to change realities on the ground, ignoring all the committees formed.”

Daqqa said the stations were both registered with the International Broadcasting Union and broadcast on legal frequencies.

Moammer Orabi, Watan’s director general, said there were no warnings before the raid took place.

“It was a surprise. We still don’t know why they confiscated the equipment and shut down the station, even though we work in areas belonging to the Palestinian Authority and we have a licence from them,” he said.

Abu Irreh of Al-Quds Educational TV called the events of Wednesday morning “harassment to media and education stations and a way to shut the mouths of media and reporters.”

Palestinian lawmaker Mustafa Barghouti condemned the raids in a statement.

“This act is not only a violation of human rights and humanitarian law,” he said, “but also a breach of the agreements that forbid the Israeli military forces from entering or carrying out operations” in Area A.

Employees walk in a studio at the television station "Watan" after Israeli raid.

“We will campaign worldwide to repel the Israeli aggression,” he said.

Watan TV identified the four employees who were detained as head of production Abdul Rahman Thaher, correspondent Hamza Salaymeh, graphics expert Ibrahim Milhim and broadcaster Ahmad Zaki.

They were released after several hours, the network said.

The raids were condemned by Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, who visited Watan’s offices after the raid, describing it as “a new and very dangerous Israeli escalation against the Palestinian Authority.”

Journalists said they would hold a demonstration in Ramallah’s central square later on Wednesday to protest against the raid.

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