Bombed out and broke, Hamas-affiliated Al-Aqsa TV to go off air

Al-Aqsa TV, which had its studios destroyed by Israel last month, says it is facing a ‘suffocating’ financial crisis

Adam Rasgon is the Palestinian affairs reporter at The Times of Israel

A picture taken on November 12, 2018 shows a ball of fire above the building housing the Hamas-run television station al-Aqsa TV in Gaza City during an Israeli air strike. ( Bashar TALEB / AFP)
A picture taken on November 12, 2018 shows a ball of fire above the building housing the Hamas-run television station al-Aqsa TV in Gaza City during an Israeli air strike. ( Bashar TALEB / AFP)

A Hamas-affiliated TV station which had its studios destroyed in an Israeli airstrike last month said Wednesday it would go off air indefinitely over a lack of funds.

Gaza City-based Al-Aqsa TV said in a statement that it was facing a “suffocating” financial crisis, without providing details.

According to the statement, the station will go off air on Thursday at 5 p.m.

On November 12, the station’s main office and studios were bombed by Israel during a short-lived but intense flare-up of violence which saw Hamas and other Gaza-based terrorists fire hundreds of rockets at Israel. Israel had accused the station of being used by the Hamas terror group for military purposes.

The Israeli aircraft first fired a “warning missile” at the multi-story headquarters, which was captured live on air as personnel fled the building, before firing a number of missiles to destroy the building.

Following the airstrikes, the channel briefly went off air, but soon resumed broadcasting from another location.

Al-Aqsa TV said the costs of the damages amount to some $4.5 million.

On Wednesday, Al-Aqsa station director Wisam Afifa told Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency that it was unclear when the channel would be able to resume broadcasts.

“Resuming [our] broadcast depends on the availability funds for the channel,” Afifa said.

In a statement on November 12, the IDF said it demolished the Al-Aqsa TV headquarters in “response to the terror attack that the Hamas terror group is leading against Israeli citizens.”

Palestinians check the damage of the Hamas’ Al-Aqsa TV station building which was hit by Israeli airstrikes on Monday, in Gaza City, Tuesday, November 13, 2018. (AP/Khalil Hamra)

The army added that the channel was “used by [Hamas] for military activities, including sending messages to terrorist operatives in the West Bank, calls for terror attacks and instructions on how to commit them.”

Afifa told Anadolu some 220 people work for the channel.

In a statement on November 12, Hamas denounced the demolition of the channel’s headquarters.

“The occupation’s targeting of the station’s headquarters is barbaric and barefaced aggression,” the terror group said in a statement, according to the Hamas-linked Palestinian Information Center. “It reflects the enemy’s criminal mindset and is an attack on every free voice seeking to expose the enemy’s crimes, terrorism and violations at the expense of Gaza.”

On Wednesday, an email address and phone numbers to make donations were posted on Al-Aqsa TV’s website.

Israel also bombed the outlet’s headquarters in December 2008, during the first war to break out in Gaza in the wake of the 2005 disengagement.

In 2010, the US government designated Al-Aqsa TV as a terror group.

The channel’s reporters have frequently praised violence against Israelis and rocket attacks on the Jewish state.

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