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Israel raids Ramallah TV stations

Feb. 29, 2012 9:10 A.M. (Updated: March 1, 2012 7:32 P.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- 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 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.

"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.

Lucy Nusseibeh, director of the Institute of Modern Media, which houses Al-Quds Educational TV, said they were "in shock" over the raid.

"Frankly, even if the Israeli army did want our transmitter, there was absolutely no need to attack the university campus in the dead of night and start smashing down doors, or intimidate our poor security guard," she said in a statement.

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.

They had been asked to cease their broadcasting "which significantly interrupts other legal broadcasting stations," an army spokeswoman told Ma'an. "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."

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.

"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.
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