West Bank: Israeli forces close down television and arrest 3 media workers

Israeli forces closed West Bank Ramallah-based TV station Palestine Today and arrested its manager as well as 2 media professionals on 11 March over allegations of inciting violence. The International Federation of journalists (IFJ), which represents 600 000 journalists across the globe, stands by its affiliate the Palestinian Journalists Union (PJS) in condemning this brutal attack against free press and ask for UN immediate reaction to the escalation of attacks against the press in the occupied territories.  

On Friday, Israeli forces raided the offices of Palestine Today in Ramallah over allegations of inciting violence against Israel and its citizens and ordered its closure. The decision follows the Israel security cabinet decision’s on 10 March to close down Palestinian media accused of incitement. The station’s director Farouk Alyat, 34,  photo-journalist Mohammed Amr and  technician Shabib Shabib were arrested.

Media company "Trans-Media" based in the city of Bireh was also closed. Media reports that Palestine Today, which has offices in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, continued to broadcast to the West Bank via its Lebanese transmitters.  

PJS condemned the wave of violence that has been targeting journalists in the past years in the occupied territories and points at  the closure of several local radio stations a few months ago in al-Khalili city. The union is aware of additional written warnings ordering the closure of other media companies. “Since the beginning of 2016 there has been more than 40 Israeli violations against journalists and media organisations,” said PJS in a statement.  “We are very concerned about the conditions under which media professional ought to work on the ground.”    

PJS fears that the latest repressive measures taken by Israeli forces form part of the government’s intention to shut down Palestinian radio and television stations under the pretext of incitement against Israeli occupation.

“We cannot tolerate these continuous attacks from Israeli authorities to muzzle Palestinian press,” said IFJ President Jim Boumelha. “Incitement of terror is a dangerous accusation to make against a media and a decision to close it down cannot occur without due process. We call on the UN High Commissioner for human rights and the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression to investigate violations of press freedom in Palestine without delay.”

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The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 139 countries

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