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Israeli forces raid, shut down Palestinian media offices

Palestinians check the entrance of Transmedia company after it was closed by the Israeli army in the West Bank city of Hebron, 18 October 2017
Palestinians check the entrance of Transmedia company after it was closed by the Israeli army in the West Bank city of Hebron, 18 October 2017

REUTERS/Mussa Qawasma

This statement was originally published on madacenter.org on 18 October 2017.

The Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA) strongly condemns the Israeli Occupation Forces' (IOF) escalated attacks against Palestinian media outlets and media freedom in Palestine.

The most recent attack included the shutting down of three media production companies and their branches in Ramallah, Nablus, Hebron, and Bethlehem. Israeli forces stormed their headquarters, destroying and confiscating equipment in an attempt to silence the Palestinian media through these severe attacks and discriminatory policies.

These media companies have been operating for years and do important work by providing media services to numerous TV channels and Palestinian and other Arabic and foreign media outlets.

A wave of attacks by the Israeli occupation forces at dawn on Wednesday, 18 October 2017, consisted of storming into media offices, and confiscating and destroying equipment. In total, 10 headquarters and offices of the companies Pal-Media, Trans Media and Ramsat were shut down, in the cities of Ramallah, Hebron, Bethlehem and Nablus. A total of 94 journalists and other staff are employed by these media outlets.

Furthermore, the director of Trans Media in Hebron, Amer Al-Ja'bari, was arrested, along with the managing director of the same company, Ibrahim Al-Ja'bari.

The Israeli Occupation forces implemented and carried out these serious and massive attacks simultaneously, as dozens of soldiers stormed the headquarters of the three companies, confiscated their contents and loaded them onto trucks. Moreover, the main entrances to these companies were closed, with metal panels being installed at the front doors of the headquarters and the media offices. Military orders were hung on the doors, stipulating that the offices in question would be shut down for six months, on allegations of "practicing incitement" according to the closure orders.

Ibrahim Bishara Alhusari, the financial manager of Trans-media, reported to MADA that, "Israeli occupation forces stormed the Trans Media headquarters in the Al-Quds Bank building in Al-Bireh, at around 2 am today (18 October). They confiscated equipment from the office, which is used for television broadcasting, including cameras, editing equipment, lighting equipment, and audio devices worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. Soon after their withdrawal, we headed to the headquarters of the company and found that the doors were shut with iron panels suspended over top, and a posted closure order for Trans Media for six months on the pretext that it provides services and facilitates the work of institutions that incite terrorism. It should be noted that we provide a huge service to various media outlets such as Palestine Today, TRT Turkish Arabic and English, AlGhad Al Arabi, the Arab channel, Orient, in addition to foreign channels such as the BBC."

He also added "at the same time as they stormed the headquarters of the company in Albireh, they also stormed other branches of the company in Nablus and Hebron, besides confiscating several pieces of equipment and issuing the shut down order... the IOF summoned the director of the Hebron office, Amer al-Ja'bari, and administrative director Ibrahim al-Ja'bari, on the phone, claiming that they did not want to break into the office, and arrested them. Afterwards they headed to Amer's house and confiscated his mobile phones."

Mahmoud Naji Zakarneh, who works in photography and editing in Ramsat, informed MADA that "the company's headquarters in Nablus and Ramallah have been raided, all equipment and all media items have been confiscated, and iron panels have been installed on the front door with a closure order issued by the military for a period of six months”.

He added, "it is hard to estimate the value of what was confiscated, although they listed all the items and equipment that was confiscated on the entrance [of the office] which was shut down for six months."

Similarly, the IOF stormed its offices of Pal-Media located on the ninth and tenth floors of the Palestine tower in Ramallah, as well as its other offices located in Bethlehem, Nablus and Hebron, and confiscated most of its equipment. The front door was shut and covered with metal panels. A closure order issued by the military was posted on its front door, stating that it was being shut down for six months and warned of consequences if it failed to comply. Pal-Media provides media services to several channels including Alquds, Russia today, Al-Mayadeen, Almanar and Syria.

We at the Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA) are gravely concerned about the drastic violations which we see as a new harsh blow to the media profession and media freedom in Palestine generally. It is an attempt to silence the Palestinian media by shutting down these media offices, and forcing them to incur huge loses and prosecution under allegations and the pretext of incitement. Considering the physical violations and assaults that Palestinian journalists are exposed to in the field, we hereby call on all media and human rights international organizations to put real pressure on the Israeli Occupation Authorities: urge them to reopen all these media outlets, provide reparations for the losses incurred and return all confiscated items and equipment, and to put an end to all violations that target media freedom and hold all perpetrators accountable.

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