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Eutelsat to take al-Aqsa TV off air

France’s broadcasting watchdog has ordered the world’s third biggest satellite provider, Eutelsat, to take Palestinian channel al-Aqsa TV off the air.

Deputy Head of the channel Mohammed Thuraya told AFP on Tuesday that French broadcasts would cease within 48 hours by the order of the country’s Conseil Supérieur de ‘Audiovisuel (CSA).

“We were told that the reason behind the decision to stop broadcasting al-Aqsa was ‘incitement to hatred,’ without any explanation,” the official said.

“This is the unfair result of pressure from the Zionist lobby on the American administration, which in turn pressured France and Eutelsat,” he added.

Thuraya criticized the decision for having no legal or moral justification, adding that the move would lead to the loss of 70 percent of the channel’s viewers.

According to the channel’s official, a request for an extra day to consult lawyers and rights groups in order to appeal the decision was turned down.

The decision follows al-Aqsa’s in-depth coverage of Israel’s May 31 attack on the Gaza-bound Freedom Flotilla aid convoy.

During the assault Israeli commandos killed 20 people travelling aboard the ships to break the Gaza siege.

The Gaza-based channel, which was launched in 2006, has offices in Gaza, Egypt, Jordan, Yemen, Lebanon, Syria and Turkey, and has around 400 employees.

The channel gives a behind-the-scene look at the hardship suffered by the impoverished people of Gaza under the crippling Israeli blockade of the coastal strip.

It also provided a non-stop coverage of the Israeli war on Gaza in December 2008, which destroyed all the channel’s studios but failed to take it off the air.

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