In an indication of an escalating attack on Palestinian journalists and media outlets, Israeli occupation forces invaded, attacked and shut down the Palestinian satellite channel Palestine Today (Filasteen al-Yom) as well as its broadcasting company, Trans Media, and arrested three Palestinian journalists.
In the early dawn hours of Friday, 11 March, Israeli soldiers stormed the headquarters of Palestine Today in El-Bireh, seizing equipment and computers and arresting two journalists present in the office, Mohammed Amr of al-Khalil and Shabib Shabib of Nablus, both of whom were taken to Beit El settlement. The home of Farouq Elayyat in Bir Zeit, the director of the channel in the West Bank, was simultaneously invaded by Israeli occupation forces, who arrested him and seized his belongings. They were among 33 Palestinians seized overnight by Israeli occupation forces.
Occupation forces also attacked Trans Media, which provides broadcasting services to Palestine Today, seizing their electronic and broadcasting equipment.
The Palestinian journalists syndicate denounced the attack on Palestine Today and Trans Media and the arrest of the three journalists, saying that these attacks are part of ongoing Israeli crimes against journalists and the Palestinian media, reflecting the bankrupt approach of the Israeli settler government. It urged Arab and international journalists’ unions to condemn these actions and pressure Israel.
The attack on Palestine Today came only one day after the Israeli cabinet approved Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s plan to shut down Palestinian media outlets under the pretext of “incitement.” In response to this action, the Palestinian journalists syndicate had said that the “war against journalists came in response to the demands of the Israeli settlers and the extremist right-wingers, who had been calling for the closure of Palestinian radio and TV stations. The attempt by the Israeli government to label the Palestinian press with incitement and as fuelling hate will not succeed because the Israeli government is the party which practices incitement and hate through the Israeli mass media.”
This comes after the 94-day hunger strike of Palestinian journalist Mohammed al-Qeeq, in protest of his administrative detention – imprisonment without charge or trial. Al-Qeeq’s case highlighted the struggle of imprisoned Palestinian journalists; there are at least 18 journalists in Israeli jails.
Israeli occupation forces accused Palestine Today of being affiliated to the Palestinian political party, Islamic Jihad, and therefore being a “prohibited organization”; Israeli right-wing media also expressed frustration that Palestine Today continued to broadcast, because it is distributed on Arabic-language satellites and has additional offices and broadcasting centers in Gaza, as well as in Lebanon, where hundreds of thousands of displaced Palestinian refugees continue to live in refugee camps.