A new Arabic language satellite television channel, reportedly linked to Hamas, is the latest part of the terrorist organization's expanding media network.
Al Quds TV, launched on November 11, 2008, enables Hamas, which now controls the Gaza Strip, to spread its messages promoting terrorism and hatred of Jews and Israelis to a wider audience.
According to the director general of Al Quds, Nabil al-Utaybi, the Beirut-based station is for "all Palestinians, and for those concerned about Palestine and the issue of Jerusalem." The station's programming will reportedly focus on a range of issues, from politics and history to culture and arts, as well as the "fundamental principles and rights of the Palestinian people, mainly the right for liberation and resistance," Utaybi said.
Much of the programming appears to be in line with Hamas' virulent anti-Israel and anti-Jewish ideology. For example, Al Quds first day of broadcasting, which coincided with the fourth anniversary of Yassir Arafat's death, included Hamas leader Khaled Mashal's eulogy of Arafat in which he claimed that "Zionists and their proxies" poisoned the former Palestinian Authority leader.
Al Quds also broadcast a documentary ostensibly detailing life in Nablus in which several of the residents interviewed blame "Jews," as well as the Israeli government and military, for their living conditions. One school girl interviewed expresses with anger, "This is my city this is not the Jew's city." In a voiceover, another child says, "This is not the Jews home, he is dirty."
In a November interview with Al Manar TV, Hezbollah's television station, Utaybi said that Al Quds was launched at a time "when the Israeli onslaught on Jerusalem to Judaize it and expel its inhabitants is intensifying." He also described Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah as "the lion of the Lebanese resistance."
The station is available in the Middle East and North Africa, as well as several European countries, via two satellite companies; Nilesat, an Egyptian company that broadcasts to the Middle East and North Africa, and Arabsat, a Saudi Arabia-based company broadcasting in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
Hamas already operates a satellite TV channel, the Gaza-based Al Aqsa TV, which began broadcasting in the Gaza Strip in January 2006. Al Aqsa TV, which promotes terrorist activity and incites hatred of Jews and Israelis, is headed by Fathi Ahmad Hammad. Hammad is chairman of Al Ribat Communications and Artistic Productions, a Hamas-run company that also produces Hamas's radio station, Voice of Al Aqsa, and its biweekly newspaper, The Message.
Hamas has also recently enhanced its effort to reach a wider audience through the Internet. In July 2008, Hamas launched AqsaTube allowing users to upload, view and share videos. The Arabic site, which is similar to YouTube, includes videos that glorify suicide bombers and terrorism of suicide bombers.
AqsaTube is one of about 20 Web sites operated by Hamas. For example, its Arab-language on-line magazine for children, Al-Fateh, uses cartoon characters, games and other content to demonize Jews and Israelis and glorify terrorism. Al Quds TV has a Web site, which is hosted on a server in Dallas, Texas (as of November 21, 2008), and the stations test broadcasts were promoted and publicized on other Hamas sites.
Al Quds TV reportedly was established under the auspices of the Al Quds International Institution (QII), a Beirut-based foundation that seeks to restore Jerusalem to the Arabs. In a recent statement, QII announced that it will "intensify efforts to unify the Arab, Palestinian and Islamic stances and gather them around the project of protecting Jerusalem and uncovering the Israeli occupation violations against the Palestinian sanctities and their culture and educational institutes."
QII held a conference in Doha, Qatar, in October 2008, to face the "threat of judaization and obliteration of its [Jerusalem's] Islamic identity," according to QII co-founder, Faisal Mawlawi. In attendance were more than 300 Muslim representatives from 47 countries, including Sheik Yusuf al-Qaradawi, a radical Muslim Brotherhood ideologue.
Mawlawi is also the deputy of the European Council for Fatwa and Research, a Dublin-based group founded in 1997 by Qaradawi to establish a central religious authority for European Muslims. The Council does not acknowledge the state of Israel and rejects any compromise with the Jewish state.
In a statement on the dual language (English and Arabic) Web site, IslamOnline, in June 2007, Mawlawi says that Palestinians fight merely "to drive out the Zionist aggressors and to force them to return to the countries they came from." In July 2007, Mawlawi issued a fatwa on IslamOnline stating, "Martyr operations are not suicide and should not be deemed as unjustifiable means of endangering one's life."