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Al-Jazeera targeted after publishing documents detailing Palestinian-Israeli negotiations

(MADA/IFEX) - On 26 January 2011, four Palestinian youths, one of whom was armed, raided the offices of the Pal Media Agency and proceeded to destroy the agency's property. The same day, unknown individuals opened fire in front of the home of the agency's director, Hasan Altiti. The two incidents took place in Nablus city, in the West Bank.

Al-Jazeera TV had rented the studio from Pal Media on 26 January to interview an academic, Dr. Abdul Sattar Qasim. The political analyst had discussed Al-Jazeera's recently released documents, "The Palestine Papers".

In a statement to the Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA), Altiti said: "The office was raided at about 3:15 PM, immediately after the completion of the broadcast. The assailants asked about Dr. Qasim and about me, but I was absent; then they started to destroy some of the equipment in the office: a computer, the studio camera, a printer, and some glasses. Then they fled. At 12:30 AM unknown individuals fired a gun in the air in front of my house."

In another incident, a group of young Palestinians tried to raid Al-Jazeera's TV office in Ramallah on 24 January. The act was apparently in response to the recent publication by Al-Jazeera of documents about the negotiations between the Palestinians and Israelis over the past ten years.

Walid Alomari, the director of Al-Jazeera's TV office in the occupied Palestinian territories, told MADA that the youths tried to attack the office but were intercepted by Palestinian police. He expressed his warm thanks for the role that the Palestinian police played in addressing the issue. Alomari also said: "the people have the right to object to Al-Jazeera's publication, but they have no right to attack (the channel)."

Al-Jazeera TV began publishing "The Palestine Papers" on 23 January via the "Alhasad Alekhbari" program, in addition to launching a new website called "transparency - Al-Jazeera". The site contains about 1,600 documents and consists of more than 6,000 pages detailing the Palestinian-Israeli negotiations of the last ten years.

Al-Jazeera's decision to publish documents has sparked angry reactions from the Palestinian leadership, which has accused Al-Jazeera of falsifying facts and of incitement against the Palestinian Authorities. The Deputy Minister of Justice in the Palestinian Authority said on the morning of 27 January that he had begun preparations to study the possibility of a lawsuit on behalf of the Palestinian Authority against Al-Jazeera TV.

MADA condemns the raid against Pal Media Agency and the shooting in front of the house of its director in Nablus. MADA also expresses its appreciation for the role of the Palestinian police in preventing the attack against Al-Jazeera's office in Ramallah, and stresses the need for the authorities to protect media outlets.

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