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Israeli authorities threaten to raid Palestinian TV station

Israeli authorities sent a letter dated 24 April 2014 to Wattan TV, a Palestinian TV station based in Ramallah, calling on it to stop broadcasting immediately or action will be taken against it.

Director of Wattan TV Muammar Orabi told the Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA) that Watan TV's lawyer expressed fear of a possible raid on the station's headquarters but stressed that they will not halt broadcasting as the letter was not deemed legal noting that the station is licensed officially by the Palestinian Ministry of Communications and Information Technology.

"We brought experts in the field of frequencies and they assured us that the frequencies do not pose a threat to their security as they claim, their allegations are incorrect, their goal is to obstruct the Palestinian media institutions' work which constitutes an infringement on the right to freedom of expression,” said Orabi.

Israeli forces raided Wattan TV on 29 February 2012 and confiscated equipment worthy of $USD 300,000 in addition to the station's archives since 2002. They also raided the station in 2002 and confiscated all its archives since its establishment in 1996.

For his part, MADA's general director Mousa Rimawi stressed the need for international solidarity with Wattan TV and Palestinian media outlets in general, which face serious violations at the hands of the occupation.

Sheraa TV in Tulkarem city was forced to stop broadcasting last February after received numerous threats from the Israeli authorities, because they claimed the TV broadcasting disturbs the "Ben-Gurion" airport near the city of Al-lid as well as Israeli communications services.

Sheraa TV Director Mohamed Zeidan told MADA that at the time they consulted a number of technicians from the Palestinian Ministry of Communications and Al-Najah University, who confirmed that the devices do not cause any interference. After they presented the Palestinian Liaison Center with proof certificates, the IOF dropped its claims and said that the broadcasting was interfering with an Israeli TV station's broadcasting instead.

The TV station's administration changed its frequencies and began broadcasting recently again, Zeidan said the financial losses incurred by the station as a result are around $USD 24,400, which include "the price of new equipment and the new frequencies, in addition to the losses of the ads due to the closure since February."

MADA expresses its deep concern regarding the work of Wattan TV and the safety of its employees if the Israeli forces raid its headquarters or take any further action against it.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
What other IFEX members are saying
  • Israeli army issues raid threat to Palestinian TV station

    “The letter is the umpteenth threat couched in violent language from the Israeli army against Wattan TV, even though the station has complied with a request from the High Court of Justice last December to obtain a new broadcasting frequency from the Palestinian telecommunications ministry,” said Lucie Morillon, Reporters Without Borders head of research.

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