Israeli troops raid Palestinian TV stations


Staff members of a 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 overnight, seizing computers and broadcasting equipment, employees told AFP on February 29, 2012.



The New York Times reported that Israeli troops raided two Palestinian television stations in the occupied West Bank on Wednesday morning, confiscating hard drives and documents.

The two stations, al-Watan and Al Quds Educational Television, were located in Ramallah, and officials from Israel's Communications Ministry worked with soldiers to remove equipment and documents.

Reuters reported that the Israeli military claimed the stations' transmitters were interfering with air traffic communications and the stations had been repeatedly asked to stop using those frequencies. A spokesman for the military stated that, "Soldiers accompanied Communications Ministry officials to the pirate stations ... a number of transmitters were seized."

The Palestinian Authority said it had received no warnings, and added that the stations were not guilty of any violations, reported The Times. Lucy Nusseibeh, the director of the Institute of Modern Media at al Quds University, which operates one of the stations, told The Times, "We are an educational television station, which puts on Sesame Street, anti-smoking programs and broadcasts to help integrate handicapped children into the community," adding that she had never heard of any complaints or warnings.

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While visiting the al-Watan station, Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said the raid undermined his government, stating, "This is a clear aggression against what remains of the Palestinian Authority," according to the Associated Press.

Al-Watan frequently reports on Palestinian protests against Israel in the West Bank. Mustafa Barghouti, head of the Palestinian Medical Relief Society, one of the three NGOs that co-own al-Watan, 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," according to the AP.

Tensions between Israel and the Palestinian Authority have been heightened in recent weeks after diplomatic talks failed to progress, reported Israeli newspaper Haaretz. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said he planned to clarify Israel's position on various issues and would once again approach the United Nations Security Council and General Assembly to seek official recognition.

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