HEBRON, Occupied Territories: Israeli forces raided Palestinian media offices across the occupied West Bank overnight in what a military spokeswoman yesterday called a “large-scale operation” against “incitement”.
The raids on eight companies came hours after the Israeli government declared it would not deal with an emerging Palestinian unity government that includes Hamas, unless the group made radical changes.
Israeli officials said the raids targeted companies that provide services to Hamas television stations. Notices were posted saying the companies were to be closed for six months.
“Israeli army forces last night raided eight Palestinian production and media companies that provide services to Al-Aqsa and Al-Quds TV channels,” the head of an Israeli defence ministry unit known as Cogat, Yoav Mordechai, wrote on Facebook, referring to Hamas channels.
Israeli officials provided no specific examples of the alleged incitement. At least one of the companies targeted says it provides various services to a range of local and international news media.
The Palestinian National Authority said it condemned the raids “in the strongest terms”.
“Occupation forces committed a blatant aggression and gross violation of all international laws when they stormed Palestinian cities and raided media offices,” PNA government spokesman Yousuf Al Mahmoud said in a statement.
He said the measures were a “clear challenge to the international efforts, especially American efforts, to seek an opportunity for compromise and lay the foundations for peace and security with the agreement of all sides”.
A Palestinian journalists’ union official in the southern West Bank city of Hebron said the offices of three companies providing production services to Hamas television channels were closed and equipment and documents seized.
They were named as Palmedia, Ramsat and Transmedia, a satellite broadcasting facility where two members of staff were arrested, the union official said.
An official with Palmedia told AFP that three of its five offices in the West Bank were closed, including its headquarters in Ramallah as well as in Hebron and Nablus.
Some 50 people were out of work due to the Palmedia closures, he said. The company provides services to a range of local and international media.
“This act threatens Palmedia’s ability to continue its work to provide its services for satellite channels and produce a number of TV shows for several local, Arab and international media outlets,” it said in a statement.
Transmedia executive director Ebrahim Al Hossari told AFP “production companies in Palestine and all over the world provide production services that are more technical than news”.
“We are not a news agency,” he said. “Our work is purely technical and we are not responsible for the content provided by these channels.”
Last week, rival Palestinian movements Fatah and Hamas signed a landmark unity deal aimed at ending a decade-long split.
Israel said Tuesday it would not negotiate with a Palestinian unity government that includes Hamas if the movement does not disarm, recognise the country and renounce violence.
The government statement also demanded that president Mahmoud Abbas’s Palestinian Authority “continue to act against Hamas terror infrastructures” in the West Bank.