Israel Designates Hamas TV Channel a Terror Organization

Decision was made following recommendation filed by Shin Bet security service, determining that Hamas used the channel to recruit activists

Hamas militants take part in a rally marking the 31st anniversary of Hamas' founding, in Gaza City December 16, 2018
\ IBRAHEEM ABU MUSTAFA/ REUTERS

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu signed a directive Wednesday designating Hamas' satellite TV channel, "Al-Aqsa," a terror organization.

The decision was made following recommendations by the National Bureau for Economic Warfare against Terror and the Shin Bet security service, determining that Hamas used the channel to recruit activists, a Defense Ministry statement said.

It also stated that Fathi Hamad, the Hamas official who owns the channel, uses it for what was defined as "continuous inciting propaganda – calls for 'days of rage' and violence against Israel and calls on the public to harm Israeli citizens." Some of the channel's anchors are members of Hamas, the defense ministry said, who use it to pass covert messages to militants recruited into the organization in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

>> Read more: Hamas seeks concessions from Israel before escalating conflict ■ Hidden messages on TV: How Hamas recruited West Bank Palestinians for terror attacks

Last month, Shin Bet said Hamas recruited dozens of residents of the West Bank and East Jerusalem with Israeli citizenship via the channel.

According to the Shin Bet, Qutayba al-Nawaja, who was arrested in December 2018, was among the recruits and had been contacted through Facebook.

To prove to al-Nawaja that he was indeed chatting with a member of Hamas' military arm, he was told to choose a verse from the Koran and, the next day, to watch a certain show on al-Aqsa TV – where a presenter would discuss that same verse. Indeed, he chose a verse and the next day it was discussed on al-Aqsa TV. 

Another signal was for a presenter to sip a cup of coffee during the broadcast. Among the presenters who abetted the Hamas military arm by conveying messages are Aslam Bader, 30, a resident of Jabaliya, and Raghei Hamatz, 32.

Al-Nawaja was told to commit a suicide attack on a bus in the central Israeli city of Lod, using an explosive belt, Shin Bet said. Other recruits were sent to carry out tasks such as photographing sites of interest suitable for terror attacks in Jerusalem.