Israeli forces arrested two people and closed down eight Palestinian media production companies working with Hamas-linked TV channels. The broadcasters repeatedly "inspired" terror attacks, Israeli officials claim.
The Israeli military seized documents and equipment from the firms in the occupied West Bank, including the city of Hebron, in a series of overnight raids on Wednesday.
Doors to offices were locked, with Israeli troops posting notices that the firms would remain closed for the next six months. Two employees of TransMedia, a satellite broadcasting facility, were arrested.
Israeli officials said that the eight media firms were targeted on suspicion of incitement to violence, for their cooperation with Hamas' Al-Aqsa and Al-Quds TV channels.
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"These two channels broadcast constant incitement against the state of Israel. It is no secret that these two channels inspired, several times, terrorists to go out and commit terrorist attacks against innocents," Yoav Mordechai, an Israeli defense official, wrote on Facebook.
Mordechai did not provide examples of incitement.
'Stark violation' of media freedom
Palestinian officials strongly condemned the raids, with the deputy information minister, Mahmoud Khalefeh, slamming them as "a stark violation of the freedom of press in Palestine" aimed at preventing journalists "from reporting the Israelis' daily violation of human rights."
The militant group Hamas is one of two biggest political forces in the occupied Palestinian territories, the other being the less hawkish Fatah. Last week, the two groups signed a deal to form a unity government.
Just hours ahead of the Wednesday raids, Israel announced it would not negotiate with a government that includes Hamas unless the jihadist groups disarms, denounces violence, and recognizes the state of Israel.
dj/rc (AFP, AP)