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Israel classified Aqsa TV as a terrorist organization

Ramallah, 10/12/2014: The Israeli occupation authorities released yesterday Al-Aqsa TV  correspondent in Ramallah Mustafa Al-Khawaja on 10,000 NIS (approx. 2,544 USD) bail. He was arrested on 20/10/2014 and detained for 50 days.

 

Khawaja told MADA that during his detention he was interrogated about his work at Al-Aqsa TV and accused of "incitement against Israel and promotion of terror ideas" through his work for the channel. During his trial yesterday, the general prosecutor claimed that since 1/10/2014 Al-Aqsa channel is considered by Israel as a “banned terrorist organization” and that therefore working for the channel is prohibited. However, this had never been announced officially and nobody knew about it. Khawaja’s lawyer tried to refute this charge during the process, arguing that the channel has been working for about eight years. Khawaja was eventually released on bail, pending the completion of his trial.

 

This is perhaps the first time that a media outlet is classified as a terrorist organization. The fact that Al-Aqsa channel belongs to Hamas does not give the Israeli occupation authorities the right to classify it as a terrorist organization since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which celebrates its 66th anniversary today, guarantees freedom of expression for all. Besides, the work of Al-Aqsa channel is subject to Palestinian law and not to the Israeli one.

 

Al-Aqsa channel and its staff have been a long-time target of the Israeli occupation authorities. On 20/11/2012, Israeli forces deliberately killed photojournalists Hossam Salameh and Mahmoud Komi, alleging that they were working for the "Hamas terrorist" movement. During the latest war on the Gaza Strip, the Israeli army shelled and destroyed three Al-Aqsa facilities under the same pretext.

 

As recalled by Reporters Without Borders, the expert committee formed by the International Criminal Court’s for the former Yugoslavia to assess NATO bombings in 1999 specified that a journalist or media organization is not a legitimate target merely because it broadcasts or disseminates propaganda.

 

Israel, which has been excelling in issuing orders and military decisions meant to suppress freedom of expression and the media in Palestine since its occupation of 1967, continues to insist on pursuing such an approach. This is extremely serious since the court's decision can constitute a judicial precedent to further suppress media freedoms in occupied Palestine through occupation military courts. The Israeli example can also be used by other dictatorial regimes throughout the world which may start classifying media outlets as "terrorist organizations” to justify their persecutions of journalists.

 

MADA condemns the classification of Al-Aqsa TV as a terrorist organization, and calls the international community to put pressure on the Israeli authorities to rescind its decisions and stop all its violations of freedom of expression in Palestine. More generally, MADA demands an end to all media freedoms violations in Palestine, which have escalated dramatically this year.