A French satellite television provider has removed Hamas-run Al-Aqsa TV from its selections by order of the government. The channel had been broadcast via Paris-based Eutelstat.
Government officials decided last month to cut off Al Aqsa broadcasts in France.
The Arabic-language channel was guilty of "repeated infringement of European law," said French Foreign Ministry spokesman Bernard Valero, for showing programs which "constitute incitement to hatred or violence for reasons of religion or nationality."
Based in Gaza, Al-Aqsa TV is accused of propagating Hamas' anti-Semitic, anti-Israeli agenda. The French broadcast authority, CSA, repeatedly warned the channel's Eutelstat parent network between 2008 and 2009 that Al-Aqsa's hateful content was in violation of French laws.
No changes arose from these warnings.
This is not the first enforcement action by a foreign government targeting Al-Aqsa TV. The U.S. Department of the Treasury froze the channel's American assets in March. Additionally, Israel destroyed Al-Aqsa's studios during its 2008 incursion into Gaza.
Hamas has launched a media campaign protesting the ban, the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center (ITC) reports. Several Hamas leaders and Al-Aqsa board members have called on France to reconsider the decision.
The ban is "oppressive and racist," said Hamas official Salah al-Bardawil. Its purpose is to conceal "the crimes of the [Israeli] occupation."
The ITC report cites Palestinian Media Watch in showing examples of violent rhetoric in the channel's programming. One show featured a Hamas-affiliated preacher calling for Jewish children to be "exterminated." Another – this one aimed at young audiences – proclaims that Palestinians should "slaughter" Israelis until they leave the Holy Land.
Al-Aqsa officials vow to pursue a legal battle in hopes that it will once again beam to televisions in Europe.