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Palestinian TV station raided by Israeli soldiers, suspended for one year for alleged terrorism

(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders calls for the reopening of Afaq TV, a Palestinian commercial TV station based in the West Bank city of Nablus which Israeli soldiers closed on 10 July 2008 for one year on the grounds that it was a "terrorist" media outlet. The station has stopped broadcasting and seals have been place over its entrance.

"Palestinian journalists must be allowed to enjoy the same freedom and ability to work as their Israeli counterparts," Reporters Without Borders said. "Israel's arbitrary measures against media in the Palestinian Territories are unacceptable and unworthy of a democracy. The military must put a stop to this policy of censoring Palestinian media."

Israel Defence Forces personnel placed seals over the entrance to Afaq TV and announced that it was being suspended for a year for being "a terrorist organisation media" after carrying out a raid on 10 July and seizing equipment and files.

Afaq TV director Issa Abu el Izz told Reporters Without Borders he was outraged. "We are an independent media outlet and, regardless of what the Israeli military says, we have never given our allegiance to any political movement, whether Hamas or any other," he said. Izz has two weeks to file an appeal to the Israeli authorities.

Israeli soldiers previously carried out a raid on Afaq TV's headquarters in Nablus in December 2007, searched the premises and seized broadcast equipment, thereby forcing it off the air. The station had not been able to resume broadcasting until 1 March.

A commercial station, Afaq TV has been broadcasting in the Palestinian Territories for 13 years.

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