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Israel raids Palestinian TV stations

Staff members of a local private television station “Watan”, look at the damage caused after Israeli troops raided this and another Palestinian television station in the West Bank city of Ramallah overnight, seizing computers and broadcasting equipment. (ABBAS MOMANI/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

Israeli troops raided two private Palestinian television stations in the West Bank city of Ramallah early Wednesday, seizing transmitters and other equipment, the army and Palestinian officials said.

The military said the two outlets, al-Watan TV and al-Quds Educational Television, were pirate stations whose transmissions interfered with legal broadcasting stations and aircraft communications.

The army said the raids followed “countless requests” to cease broadcasting, but the Palestinian Telecommunications Ministry said it was never notified of such interruptions.

Ramallah is the seat of government of the Palestinian Authority, and Palestinian officials condemned the raids as an invasion of their territory and an attempt to stifle free speech.

Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad visited the two stations and pledged speedy efforts to get them back on the air. He said Israeli incursions into Palestinian-ruled areas “aim to destroy what is left of the influence of the Palestinian Authority.”

Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, left, visits the offices of “Watan” TV after an Israeli army pre-dawn raid in the West Bank city of Ramallah. (Majdi Mohammed/AP)

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas called the raids a “blatant assault on freedom of the press and expression.”

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