Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman officially designated the al-Quds television network a terrorist organization, his office said Monday, accusing the Lebanon-based outlet of being an arm of Hamas.
“According to up-to-date, reliable, cross-checked and diverse intelligence, the al-Quds station is a propaganda wing of Hamas, representing a central platform for distributing the terrorist organization’s messages,” the defense minister’s office said in a statement.
The idea to declare the outlet a terrorist organization was proposed by the Shin Bet security service and the Defense Ministry’s department for fighting terrorist with economic tools, Liberman’s office said.
Coinciding with the move, reporters and cameramen from the channel based in Israel, as well as employees of a local production company that works with the network, were questioned by police on Monday and told to cease operations, according to the Haaretz daily.
بعد قرار وزير الأمن الإسرائيلي ليبرمان حظر التعامل مع قناة القدس الفضائية بموجب قانون مكافحة الإرهاب،الشرطة تحقق مع الصحافي أنس موسى مراسل فضائية القدس في الداخل ومع صاحب شركة البشير ميديا إياد النائل وطاقم موظفي الشركة التي تقدم خدمات تصوير وإنتاج لفضائية القدس منذ انطلاقتها pic.twitter.com/sgZywodaE9
— sami abed alhamid سامي عبد الحميد (@samiaah10) July 9, 2018
The terror designation was slammed by Hamas an act of “terror.”
“The decision on the al-Quds channel is another step of terror that joins the other violent decisions Israel has taken against the Palestinian people,” a spokesperson for the group was quoted as saying by Haaretz.
In a statement, the channel accused Israel of clamping down on freedom of speech and called on the Palestinian Authority to pressure Jerusalem to rescind the move. It said it would continue to work to “expose the occupation’s crimes.”
A number of Arab Israeli lawmakers also condemned the blacklisting.
“There is a strong betrayal here of freedom of expression. The defense minister likely wants the media to glorify the occupation and not expose its misdeeds,” Joint (Arab) List MK Ahmad Tibi said at the Knesset.
The Israeli military in recent years has shuttered a number of television and radio stations operating in the West Bank over suspected incitement and ties to terror groups.
Israeli leaders have spoken out repeatedly about the threat of incitement in Palestinian media, while Palestinian television programs are cited in Shin Bet interrogations of terrorists as sources of inspiration.
Adam Rasgon contributed to this report.