RAMALLAH, West Bank (Reuters) - Israeli soldiers raided two Palestinian television stations in the occupied West Bank on Wednesday, seizing transmitters the military said were interfering with air traffic communications.
Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad visited one of the stations, Watan TV in Ramallah, and said the Israeli operation was “oppressive and monstrous” and violated “all international laws”.
The Israeli military said Watan TV and Alquds educational television, which is also based in Ramallah, had been asked repeatedly by Israel to stop using frequencies that cut into Israeli wireless communications and air traffic control bands.
“Soldiers accompanied Communications Ministry officials to the pirate stations ... a number of transmitters were seized,” a military spokesman said.
Ramallah is the seat of the Western-backed Palestinian Authority and Israeli troops man checkpoints on the edges of the city, just north of Jerusalem.
Fayyad said the raid represented an attack against “what is left of the Palestinian Authority’s status in the West Bank”, an apparent reference to Israel’s overall security control of the territory, which it captured in a 1967 war and where it has built more than 120 settlements.
Palestinians are seeking to establish a state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Ahmed Milhem, a Watan TV employee, said the station, owned by local non-governmental organizations, broadcasts news and cultural and political programs. He said the raid lasted some three hours.
“They seized computers, broadcast equipment and administrative files,” Milhem told Reuters by telephone. “The station is now off the air.”
Alquds television said it expected to receive replacement equipment later in the day and begin broadcasting again.
Reporting by Ali Sawafta and Jihan Abdalla, writing by Ori Lewis