Israeli forces raid Palestinian media offices linked to Hamas
HEBRON - Israeli forces raided Palestinian media offices in the occupied West Bank overnight in what a military spokeswoman on Wednesday called a "large-scale operation" against incitement.
The raids came hours after the Israeli government declared that it would not deal with an emerging Palestinian unity government that includes Hamas unless the Islamist group made radical changes.
A Palestinian journalists' union official in the southern West Bank city of Hebron said that the offices of three companies providing production services to Hamas television were closed and equipment and documents seized.
They were named as Palmedia, Ramsat and Transmedia, a satellite broadcasting facility where two members of staff were arrested, the union official said.
Israeli media said that a total of eight media firms were raided overnight, including in Ramallah and Bethlehem, but the Israeli army did not confirm those reports.
Palmedia offices in the northern West Bank city of Nablus were also sealed, an AFP photographer reported.
The military spokeswoman said that security forces "searched a number of media and production offices suspected of broadcasting inciting content, encouraging, celebrating and promoting violence and terrorism against Israelis."
"During the large-scale operation, media stations such as Ramsat and Transmedia were closed," she added.
"In addition forces seized equipment and documents from media companies that provided services to Al Aqsa and Al Quds -- TV channels that are illegal organisations," referring to Hamas TV stations.
She did not say how many offices were closed or give any details of the alleged incitement.
Israeli public radio said that the troops posted military orders on the office walls closing the premises for six months.
Last week, rival Palestinian movements Fatah and Hamas signed a landmark unity deal aimed at ending a decade-long split.
Israel said on Tuesday it would not negotiate with a Palestinian unity government that includes Hamas if the Islamist movement does not disarm, recognise the country and renounce violence.
The government statement also demanded that president Mahmud Abbas's Palestinian Authority "continue to act against Hamas terror infrastructures" in the West Bank.
Hamas has run the Gaza Strip for a decade, but also has a presence in the West Bank, where Abbas's Fatah is based.