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Israeli troops raid three West Bank news media outlets, seize equipment and shut down TV station; journalist injured covering military operation

(RSF/IFEX) - RSF condemns the raids of three West Bank news media outlets carried out on 12 December 2007 by Israeli troops. One of the outlets, Nablus-based TV station Al-Afaq, had to stop broadcasting because the troops seized transmission equipment.

"The Palestinian Territories do not suffer the same level of violence as Iraq, but they nonetheless continue to be one of the most difficult places in the world for journalists to work," the press freedom organisation said. "The media are defenceless against harassment and violence coming from three sides. The Israeli army, the Palestinian Authority security services and the armed wing of Hamas have all being guilty of press freedom violations in the past three months."

Israeli troops forced their way into Al-Afaq's studios at around 1:30 a.m. (local time) on 12 December. After searching the premises, they seized broadcast equipment, forcing the station off the air. An employee told the Palestinian news agency Maan, "The Israeli soldiers were apparently given orders to close the station because of its support for Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other organisations."

Israeli troops also seized computers and files in raids carried out at around the same time on An-Najah media and Ar-Ruwad media, two news agencies which employ pro-Hamas journalists and which work primarily with "Al Quds", a daily newspaper that supports the Palestinian Authority. The reason for the raids was not known.

In a separate incident, Yacoub Abou Ghalwa, a cameraman employed by the Associated Press news agency, was slightly injured by rocket fragments while covering an Israeli military operation in Rafah, a town in the south of the Gaza Strip.

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