(March 6, 2019 / JNS) Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared that Hamas-run Al-Aqsa TV station a terrorist organization following a report last month that the outlet had been using coded messages to recruit Palestinian terrorists.
“The decision follows a recommendation by the ISA [Israel Security Agencies] and the Defense Ministry’s national anti-economic terrorism unit … pursuant to the ISA’s uncovering of the Hamas terrorist organization’s use of the ‘Al-Aqsa’ satellite channel to recruit militants to its ranks,” the prime minister’s office said in a statement.
The Shin Bet released a report last month highlighting how a secret Hamas unit in the Gaza Strip had tried to recruit Palestinians in the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem to carry out terrorist activity against Israel.
The unit, according to the Shin Bet, transmitted its coded messages via the Gaza-based Al-Aqsa TV station, using quotes from the Koran or subtle gestures by the presenters.
During heighten tensions between Israel and Hamas last November, the IDF destroyed the multi-story offices of the Al-Aqsa TV station in central Gaza Strip. About a half-hour before the Israel Defense Forces’ action, the station repeatedly broadcasted a music video announcing “Death to Israel,” which was accompanied by footage from terror attacks and scenes from funerals and burials of Israeli terror victims.
Itamar Marcus, founder and director of Palestinian Media Watch, praised Netanyahu’s decision on Al-Aqsa TV.
“Declaring Al-Aqsa TV a terror organization is a precise labeling. It promotes all the components of Palestinian terror, including murder of Jews, suicide bombings, kidnapping of soldiers, bombing our cites and destruction of Israel,” he said.
“It uses all the means available on TV to make its messages compelling to the Palestinian population, including religious sermons, children’s programs and even music videos celebrating murder.”
In 2010, the United States classified the TV outlet as a terrorist entity.
Hamas said that terror designation by Netanyahu is “an attempt to demonize and prevent the sending of the message to the world and to suppress our story and narrative.”