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Press freedom group 'shocked' after Israel raids

April 4, 2012 8:59 P.M. (Updated: April 5, 2012 2:18 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Reporters Without Borders said Wednesday it was shocked by Monday's raid by Israeli security forces on a Palestinian media network set up by Al-Quds University in East Jerusalem.

“With this illegal intrusion into the premises of media organizations in illegally occupied and annexed Palestinian territory, Israeli forces have once again flouted international law with impunity,” Reporters Without Borders said.

“They are doing all they can to prevent the establishment of a free and independent Palestinian media in occupied Palestinian territory, in East Jerusalem in particular.”

The group demanded that the network be allowed to reopen.

Israeli forces raided the Jerusalem office of the university media institute on Monday, shutting down the launch of an online media network and detaining employees.

Plainclothes police shut down the launch in the al-Khalidiya neighborhood of Jerusalem's Old City, and confiscated equipment and files, network director Harun Abu Arrah told Ma'an.

Two employees -- Adel Ruished and Mohannad Izheman -- were detained.

The group also deplored the arrest by Israeli troops of Muhammad Anwar Muna, a 30-year-old Palestinian reporter for the news agency Quds Press. It is his fourth arrest, RSF said.

'Both unacceptable'

Other press freedom groups condemned the raid as well as the recent string of arrests by the Palestinian Authority, slammed by journalist groups as media intimidation.

“We are concerned that the investigation tactics used recently by both Israel and the Palestinian Authority serve to demoralize the media and dissuade journalists from reporting independently,” said Anthony Mills of the Vienna-based International Press Institute.

“The detentions of journalists by both Palestinian and Israeli security forces, and the seizure of journalists’ equipment, are unacceptable in societies that claim to uphold democratic principles.”

In late February, Israeli forces raided the university institute's Al-Quds Educational TV in Ramallah-district Al-Bireh and confiscated its broadcasting equipment, claiming it was interrupting legal broadcasting.

The same day, Israeli forces also raided Watan TV's newsroom in Ramallah and seized transmitters.

Human Rights Watch on Tuesday also criticized the raids in East Jerusalem and Ramallah.

The arrests of workers involved in the launch violate international free speech standards, the group said, and HRW urged Israel not to prosecute employees it detained.

"Israel should immediately return the materials it arbitrarily confiscated to the Watan and Al Quds Educational television stations and stop harassing them," said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at HRW.
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