Palestinian Authority Claims Ban on Hamas TV in West Bank Due to ‘Incitement Against Israel’
The Palestinian Authority has ordered media providers to cease the distribution of all materials by Hamas’ official channel in the West Bank, Israel’s Army Radio reported on Monday.
According to the report, PA security forces moved to ban the channel, called Al-Aqsa TV, over incitement to violence against Israel.
Still, the channel will continue to broadcast from its studios in the Gaza Strip, which is de facto ruled by Hamas.
Hamas officials have openly declared support for the recent spate of stabbing and other terrorist attacks against Israelis, with Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh calling the violence the “Al-Quds intifada.” Al-Quds is the Arabic name for Jerusalem; “intifada” is the common term for a violent uprising against Israel.
According to a report by The New York Times earlier this month, Al-Aqsa TV has been providing “wall-to-wall coverage” of the recent wave of violence gripping the West Bank, especially the area between Jerusalem and Hebron.
“All of Al Aqsa’s programming these days is devoted to chronicling the stabbings, vehicular attacks and clashes with Israeli forces that have surged in the West Bank, Jerusalem and other Israeli cities since the start of October,” said the report.
The report also noted that while Hamas has encouraged the violence in the West Bank, it has moved to restrict terror groups in its own Gaza Strip from engaging in violence against Israel, including the firing of rockets from the coastal enclave.
Itamar Marcus, who runs the Israel-based watchdog organization Palestinian Media Watch, told The Algemeiner on Monday that the claim the PA was shutting down Al-Aqsa TV because of incitement was “clearly not the real motivation.”
After all, he said, “The PA and Fatah in particular have been incessantly glorifying the killers and glorifying the terror and promoting terror as well.”
“The PA is more fearful of Hamas than they are of Israel in many respect,” said Marcus, referring to the 2007 Hamas purge of the PA and its ruling Fatah Party from Gaza, following Palestinian elections that Hamas won.
“They know what Hamas did in Gaza and they know that if Hamas had the opportunity they would do the same thing: a military takeover in the West Bank as well,” explained Marcus.
“The PA has security cooperation with Israel, so that Israel can go into the Palestinian cities and independently fight Hamas, which Israel does for its own security needs, but which the PA is thrilled about,” he said.
Marcus said he did not think barring Hamas media from the West Bank would likely rein in the wave of terrorism, though.
“Since the PA itself is a major source of terror promotion, and Fatah is a major source of terror promotion, I think that if they stop watching Hamas television, they’ll start watching PA television and getting the same effect,” he said.