Beirut, July 17, 2018–The Committee to Protect Journalists today urged the Israeli authorities to lift a ban on the Palestinian broadcaster Al-Quds TV.
In an order issued under Israel’s counter-terrorism law on July 3, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman declared the Hamas-affiliated broadcaster a terrorist organization and banned its activities in Israel and the Palestinian territories, according to news reports, the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate, and the Palestinian press freedom group MADA Center for Development and Media Freedom.
The reports did not specify what the ban would entail or how Israel intends to implement it. Attempts by CPJ to determine whether broadcasts are still accessible were not immediately successful.
Neither Al-Quds TV nor the Israeli Defense Ministry spokesperson immediately replied to CPJ’s requests for comment made via email and phone.
“Banning media outlets under the guise of fighting terrorism and protecting national security is a common practice in the authoritarian states from which Israel says it wants to differentiate itself,” said CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa program coordinator, Sherif Mansour, from Washington, D.C. “We call on Israeli Defense Minister Lieberman to lift the ban on Al-Quds TV and allow its journalists to work freely.”
Lieberman issued the order based on a recommendation from the Israeli domestic intelligence service Shin Bet and the Defense Ministry’s National Bureau for Countering Terror Financing, according to the reports.
In a statement cited by Israeli media outlets, the Defense Ministry said that Al-Quds TV “is a propaganda wing of Hamas, representing a central platform for distributing the terrorist organization’s messages.”
On the same day the ban was announced, Israeli police summoned the staff of the Palestinian media production company Al-Bishr Promedia, including the director Eyad al-Nael, cameraman Mohammed Jabareen, and reporter Anas Mousa, to a police station in Wadi Ara and Kishon Prison, according to the regional press freedom group Skeyes Center for Media and Cultural Freedom and MADA.
MADA and Skeyes, whose representatives spoke with two of the journalists, said that al-Nael, Jabareen, and Mousa were questioned for several hours about their work as journalists and ties between Hamas and Al-Quds TV, and were not told that Al-Quds TV had been declared a terrorist organization. They were subsequently released without charge.
In October 2017, Israeli forces raided the offices of three Palestinian production companies–TransMedia Palestine, PalMedia and RamSat–that provided production services, facilities, camera crews, and studios to Hamas-affiliated TV channels including Al-Quds, according to CPJ research.