The High Court of Justice will hear the petition of Palestinian television channel Al-Watan on Wednesday demanding the return of transmitters confiscated by the Israel Defense Forces in a raid in February 2012.
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Founded in 1996, Al-Watan is a state television channel operating in the Palestinian Authority. In February 2012, IDF soldiers and Communications Ministry officials raided the premises, confiscated part of the property and defaced another part. As a result, the channel shut down for several days, and to this day the missing equipment has prevented it from broadcasting outside Ramallah.
So far, the Israeli government has submitted three different versions explaining why the raid was necessary. At first the IDF spokesman claimed that the station’s broadcasts interfered with the broadcasts of Israeli channels. Later it was claimed that the station’s broadcasts interfered with the communication bands of security forces. The third, must up-to-date explanation claims the raid was necessary due to regional security considerations. The property confiscation order was signed much later than the date of the raid.
The station manager petitioned the High Court through attorneys Michael Sfard and Noa Amrami. In the petition, the attorneys argue that had there been a security threat, the IDF could have asked the station to change its broadcasting method, without raiding the offices. “The state releases different and contradictory excuses, and only after the petition was filed was a legal justification thought up and the confiscation order signed. The order has no legal basis and was not preceded by a fair and proper procedure,” they write in the petition.
In a response submitted by Attorney Nachi Ben-Or from the HCJ department at the State Prosecutor’s office, he claims that the station broadcast on a frequency that was not allocated to the Palestinians and interfered with security forces. Attempts to settle the issue peacefully through the Palestinian Authority did not succeed. In addition Ben-Or says that IDF legal counselors offered no objection to confiscating the transmitters without a hearing.