The non-profit Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has condemned Israel’s move to shut down two Palestinian TV stations in the West Bank city of Ramallah.
About 30 Israeli soldiers raided the offices of the privately owned news broadcaster al-Watan TV in Ramallah on Wednesday morning. Israeli forces also attacked al-Quds Educational Television, a project of al-Quds University which broadcasts children’s educational programs.
The troops confiscated the stations’ transmitters, computers, and other equipment.
"We urge Israel to return all confiscated equipment and permit the broadcasts to resume," said Mohamed Abdel Dayem, CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator. "This issue can be resolved without shutting down the broadcasters or confiscating their equipment."
The Israeli army said they had "repeatedly warned both stations that they were using frequencies that violated Israeli-Palestinian agreements and that interfered with communications and transmissions systems in Israel."
The Palestinian Authority (PA), however, dismissed the charges and denied receiving warnings from Israeli authorities, insisting that the stations "complied with legal requirements and the authority’s agreements with Israel."
Acting Palestinian Authority Chief Mahmoud Abbas also referred to the move as a blatant attack on freedom of information and opinion and said that the freedom of information was guaranteed by international conventions,
Palestinian caretaker Prime Minister Salam Feyadh also joined dozens of journalists in a demonstration staged in Ramallah to protest the raid.
"This is part of the aggressive policy of the Israeli occupation that it practices daily against the Palestinian people," Feyadh said.
In November 2011, Israeli police stopped the Hebrew broadcasts of the Israeli-Palestinian Radio All for Peace, saying that they were operating without a license.
In January, the CPJ wrote a letter to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, expressing alarm over the deterioration of press freedom in Israel and the clampdown on journalists in the occupied Palestinian territories.