Israeli troops swoop on Palestinian TV stations

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The Independent Online

Israeli troops raided two private Palestinian television stations in the West Bank city of Ramallah yesterday, seizing transmitters and other equipment.

The military claimed one of the outlets, al-Watan TV, was a pirate station whose frequencies interfered with legal broadcasters and aircraft communications.

They confirmed that the second raid took place at Jerusalem Educational TV, owned by the Palestinian Al Quds University. The raids were authorised by Israel's Communications Ministry.

Palestinian leaders denounced the raids as acts of aggression and a violation of media freedom.

The Palestinian Prime Minister, Salam Fayyad, visited al-Watan after the raids and said the action undermined his government.

"This is a clear aggression against what remains of the Palestinian Authority," he said, urging international mediators to persuade Israel not to carry out further raids.

Al-Watan's director, Moammar Orabi, said about 30 troops raided its offices before dawn. The station often reports on Palestinian protests against Israeli policies in the West Bank. It is owned by three non-governmental groups, including the Palestinian Medical Relief Society.