Pro-Hamas TV station labeled a terrorist group by Israel halts its operations

Manager at Al-Quds TV says employees told not to come to work because of a ‘massive’ financial crisis; channel has switched to broadcasting songs instead of news

Adam Rasgon is a former Palestinian affairs reporter at The Times of Israel

An Al-Quds TV's anchor asking questions of a Palestinian politician questions on October 20, 2018. (Credit: Al-Quds TV)
An Al-Quds TV's anchor asking questions of a Palestinian politician questions on October 20, 2018. (Credit: Al-Quds TV)

Al-Quds TV, a pro-Hamas television station, has halted its operations because of a major financial crisis after just over ten years on the air, a manager at the channel said Tuesday.

“The administration has asked employees to stop coming to work because of a massive financial crisis. So we are now sitting at home,” Imad al-Efrenji, the head of Al-Quds TV’s Gaza office, told the Times of Israel on Tuesday.

“If no Arab, Muslim or Palestinian donor makes a significant donation to save the channel, the administration will have to permanently close it,” he said.

In July 2018, then-Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman designated Al-Quds TV as a terrorist organization, accusing the channel of serving as a “propaganda arm of Hamas.”

Since earlier this week, the channel has aired songs instead of broadcasting its regular programs. As of Tuesday, its website and Facebook page were inaccessible, while its Twitter handle was last updated on February 9.

Efrenji said the station plans to broadcast songs until the end of February because it had already paid for the air time.

Much of the channel’s programming has focused on the activities and statements of officials in the Hamas and Islamic Jihad terror groups, as well as criticism of Fatah and the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority. It has also closely covered terror attacks against Israelis and often referred to terrorists and suspected terrorists as “freedom fighters.”

Imad al-Efrenji, the head of Al-Quds TV’s Gaza office. (Screenshot: Youtube)

Efrenji added the station was now searching for ways to pay its employees the salaries it still owes them.

“For the past many months, our employees have not received salaries because of the financial crisis,” he said. “The administration is now focusing on figuring out how to pay them.”

Al-Quds TV, which was established in November 2008, has some 150 employees, most of whom are based in Lebanon and Gaza.

Efrenji also said the main source of the channel’s financial crisis was the decrease in funds from its traditional backers.

“We have always relied on Arab and Muslim donors and to a small extent on advertisements,” he said. “We recently have seen our supporters sending their money to other causes Yemen, Syria and other places instead of us.”

Another Hamas-affiliated channel, Al-Aqsa TV, announced in December that it would indefinitely halt its broadcast because of financial woes. But following the apparent intervention of Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh, it stayed on air.

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