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Ramallah (Feb. 29, 2012): Israeli Occupation Forces Raid Campus of Al Quds University Media Institute in Ramallah and Prevent the University’s Educational TV Station from Broadcasting

In the early hours of this morning, two fully armored vehicles carrying a dozen Israeli occupation soldiers broke into the campus of the Institute of Modern Media, a part of Al Quds University which houses the department of media studies and Al Quds Educational TV Station (AQTV), damaging and seizing equipment, including the television transmitter. The raid apparently included plain-clothes Shin Bet forces.  Classes were suspended today as students demonstrated outside the campus, and the University attempted to assess the damage.

At 3.30 this morning, two Israeli jeeps pulled up outside the campus. When the (lone) University guard did not open the gate, Israeli occupation forces entered a site next door and breached it to access the campus. The guard was polite and offered them tea or coffee, but they threatened him with arrest if he did not fully cooperate, confiscated his ID card and demanded to be shown the room with the transmitter. They searched the station and broke down a door to which the guard did not have the key (as the room is used by a local internet company) and tore out the internet cables. Eventually, they reached the room with the transmitter and seized it.

Al Quds University condemns in the strongest terms, and calls on the international community to join in its condemnation of this – and previous – unprovoked and unjustified invasions of Al-Quds University campuses and the illegal seizure of University property and harassment of University personnel. It is a blatant violation of the Oslo peace accords between the Palestinians and the Israelis, as the campus is located in Area A.  It is an unacceptable military invasion of a university campus, and it takes direct aim at two basic freedoms, the freedom of the press and the freedom or right to education.

AQTV, established in 1996, is aimed at promoting well-being in Palestinian society. Many of its programmes are specifically educational, focusing on children, such as “sharea simsim” (Sesame Street) produced in conjunction with Sesame Workshop in New York. The TV also broadcasts lectures from the university and makes films on public awareness programmes on behalf of civil society working closely, for example, with the PA Ministry of Health on anti-anti-smoking campaigns, for instance, and the PA Ministry of Social Affairs. The Institute of Modern Media is also supported by USAID, which recently funded a state-of-the art multimedia lab at the campus that was attacked.

Lucy Nusseibeh, Director of the IMM at Al Quds University said: “We are in shock, and this is a rude awakening for all of our students as we teach them about the importance of the freedom of expression, and about what it means to be under a military occupation, even in Ramallah.  We are an educational institution and this military raid is entirely unacceptable.  Al Quds Educational Television is fully licensed by the Palestinian Ministry of Telecommunications, and frankly, even if the Israeli army did want our transmitter, there was absolutely no need to attack the university campus in the dead of night and start smashing down doors , or intimidate our poor security guard. We would like to thank everyone for reaching out to support us in this difficult time.