Israel closes media network in Jerusalem's Old City
JERUSALEM - Agence France-Presse
Israeli police officers detain a Palestinian man outside Damascus Gate in Jerusalem's Old City, Friday, March 30, 2012. AP photoIsraeli police on Monday closed down a Palestinian media network, comprising an Internet radio station and news service, on its launch day in Jerusalem's Old City, the editor-in-chief told AFP.
"Today we were planning to launch Huna al-Quds, an online multimedia network focusing on Jerusalem from our headquarters in Aqbet al-Khaldieh in the Old City," Mohammad Abu Arqub told AFP.
"The event was to take place simultaneously in Jerusalem and Ramallah via Skype." The Huna al-Quds network (Arabic for "This is Jerusalem") is a media initiative comprising radio, television and online news, which was put together by Al-Quds University's institute of modern media.
But just minutes before the launch, more than a dozen Israeli police entered the building, locked the office doors and showed an order in Hebrew, signed by the internal security minister, barring the launch event on the grounds that it was a "Palestinian Authority" event. "They cut off the Skype call, asked for IDs and arrested Ali Rweished and Muhannad Izhiman," he said, referring to two officials from Al-Quds University.
Police spokeswoman Luba Samri confirmed the incident, saying the network's launch violated a ban on any official Palestinian Authority activity in the city.
"Police closed an office in the Old City according to an order signed by the internal security minister over its intention to launch a network under the auspices of the PA, which is against Israeli law," she told AFP.
"Two people were arrested -- one of them was released, while the second is still under investigation." In a statement, Al-Quds University said it was "an independent institution, neither administered nor governed by the Palestinian Authority" which, since 1996, had been recognised by Israel as an independent NGO.
"The University condemns this action as a violation of principles and agreements which protect free speech, academic freedom, and the freedom of the press," it said, indicating it was the second time in just over a month that Israel had closed down one of its media networks.
On February 29, Israeli troops raided Al-Quds Educational TV and Watan Television, seizing computers and broadcasting equipment.
The Israeli army refused to comment on the pre-dawn raid, which briefly put a halt to broadcasts from both stations.