• It would have been better if Reporters Without Borders expressed similar attitudes about the continued assault on free speech and journalism not only in the Palestinian territories, but also the entire Arab world.

The Paris-based group Reporters Without Borders says it is "deeply shocked" by the Israeli army's recent closure of two Palestinian TV stations in Ramallah.

Israeli soldiers and inspectors from the Israeli Ministry of Communications raided the two TV stations, Watan and Al-Quds Educational, and confiscated their transmitters because their broadcasts had been disrupting communications at Ben Gurion Airport.

Israel did not conduct the raid on the TV stations because it wants to silence the Palestinian media, as some Palestinians have claimed.

The raid was aimed at preventing a disaster as a result of the disruption of communications between aircraft and Ben Gurion Airport.

But that has not stopped groups such as Reporters Without Borders from calling on the Israeli government to "return the confiscated equipment and allow the two stations to resume broadcasting."

The group has, in fact, blindly endorsed the Palestinian version -- basically that the raid was part of an Israeli crackdown on freedom of media and expression in the Palestinian territories.

So what if a civilian aircraft crashes over Tel Aviv because of the unlicensed stations broadcasting from Ramallah? Does France allow unlicensed TV or radio stations to endanger the lives of thousands of passengers at one of its airports? Does France even have TV or radio stations that are not government-controlled?

The raid on the two stations came after the Palestinian Authority government repeatedly ignored demands from Israel to stop the broadcasts.

It is worth noting that the Palestinian Authority government itself has in the past closed a number of TV and radio stations in the Palestinian territories because they did not have a license or because they dared to criticize Palestinian leaders.

But international human rights organizations do not care about what the Palestinian Authority or Hamas do against Palestinian media. They only care when Israel is involved, as is made clear by their response to the two TV stations.

Groups such as Reporters Without Borders do not care about the harassment and intimidation of Palestinian reporters by the Palestinian Authority and Hamas. Why should they care if there is no free media in the West Bank and Gaza Strip so long as they are able to find an anti-Israel angle to their work?

Instead of voicing "deep shock" at the closure of the Palestinian TV stations, it would have been better had Reporters Without Borders expressed similar attitudes about the continued assault on free speech and journalism not only in the Palestinian territories, but also the entire Arab world.

Hani Abbas is a Palestinian journalist based in Jerusalem.

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