Urgent Appeal: Lobbying For the Return of the Confiscated Equipment and Content and Assistance
On Wednesday 29 February, in the early hours of the morning, the Israeli army raided Wattan TV headquarters in Ramallah. Unfortunately, this was not the first time the station was attacked; it happened 10 years ago in 2002.
We, at Wattan TV, once again, condemn this immoral attack on our legally registered station, frequency, and our right to report.
The soldiers gave no reason nor did they present any papers with orders when they came at 2:00am. The staff was detained in the one room while the soldiers went through the offices one by one. They confiscated Wattan’s broadcasting transmitters, microwave equipment, editing units, and computers containing station information, reports by our journalists, advertising productions for our sponors, and campaigns for our funders as well as financial records. We also suffered a loss of staff morale for all of the work that they had done over the last three months that is now gone; it must now be recreated.
Although the Israeli Army spokesperson claimed the raid was conducted because of a problem with the frequency, Wattan has been broadcasting on the same frequency since it was first legally registered to broadcast in 1996, 16 years ago. In addition, this reason does not explain the confiscation of our financial documents, editing units, or computers.
Wattan TV was off air for two days before managing to restore very limited broadcasting. We felt it was important to reclaim our frequency and to continue to provide the news and information our audience expects from us. However, due to the equipment and content loss of raid, the work of all of the departments is now severely impaired. Nevertheless, in order not to cripple the station’s productivity, editors and workers of the station are currently using their personal laptops. In spite of our deep frustration with the attack, the shock to morale, and the material losses, we at Wattan are grateful for the friendly consolation of our local and international partners during the past days.
Now, we are calling on our friends, the supporters of freedom of opinion and expression, and advocates of civil society rights, to double their efforts in lobbying the Israeli government to restore the confiscated equipment and content. However, due to the difficult circumstances under which we are living, we expect that this effort will take some time. Therefore, in order to enable our staff to accomplish the daily work to ensure the continued coverage of the community and for the community, we are asking for contingency support through providing the required computers and equipment.
We would appreciate any and all assistance you can give in this unpredictable situation.