Abbas condemns IDF raid of Ramallah TV stations

IDF says raid was prompted by the stations' use of unauthorized frequencies, which endanger flight routes over Ben Gurion Airport.

IDF soldiers patrol during a raid 390 (R) (photo credit: Abed Omar Qusini / Reuters)
IDF soldiers patrol during a raid 390 (R)
(photo credit: Abed Omar Qusini / Reuters)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday strongly condemned a pre-dawn IDF raid on two TV stations in Ramallah, calling it a “flagrant assault on freedom of expression and media.”
IDF soldiers and officials from the Communications Ministry who raided the stations, Watan and Jerusalem Educational, confiscated transmitters and other equipment.
The IDF said that the raid was prompted by the station’s use of unauthorized frequencies, which endanger flight routes over Ben-Gurion Airport.
The PA rejected the charges, insisting that the raid was part of an Israeli campaign to crack down on the Palestinian media.
This was not the first raid of its kind.
In the past, the IDF confiscated transmission equipment belonging to a number of private radio and TV stations in Ramallah and other West Bank cities for the same reason.
In 2002, IDF soldiers raided the same two TV stations and confiscated transmitters that disrupted communications at Ben-Gurion Airport.
During Wednesday’s raid, the IDF briefly detained four employees who were inside the Watan TV station offices.
“This act of piracy and invasions of Palestinian media institutions reminds us of the occupation forces’ practices at the beginning of the second intifada,” PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said during a tour of the offices of Watan.
Fayyad said that the Palestinian response to such raids should be immediate so as to allow the TV stations to resume their broadcasts “today before tomorrow.”
Voicing his government’s readiness to help the targeted stations go back on air, Fayyad accused Israel of seeking to undermine “what’s left of the Palestinian Authority’s stature.”
Fayyad held the Quartet members – the US, EU, UN and Russia – responsible for Israeli “transgressions” against the Palestinians, adding that Wednesday’s raid was in violation of international law and Israeli commitments in accordance with agreements signed between the two parties.
Abdel Nasser Najjar, chairman of the Fatah-affiliated Palestinian Journalists Syndicate in the West Bank, denounced the raid on the two stations as an “Israeli crime against the Palestinian media.” Israel’s goal was to prevent the truth from reaching the world through the Palestinian media, he said.
Muammar Orabi, director of Watan TV, described the raid as an act of “sabotage.”
He said that the confiscation of equipment belonging to the two stations was a severe blow to the Palestinian media.
“We are not the first or last to be targeted by the Israelis,” Orabi said. “This is part of a systematic policy by the occupation forces against Palestinian journalists and media organizations.”
The PA Ministry of Information accused Israel of resorting to “media terror” in a bid to conceal the truth.
“The raid and the theft [of equipment] once again exposes the true face of occupation,” the ministry said in a statement.