TEL AVIV – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday designated the Hamas-run Al Aqsa TV network a terror organization after it was found by the Shin Bet security service to be broadcasting hidden messages and cues for directing terror attacks.
Netanyahu, who is also defense minister, signed an order declaring the satellite channel a terror organization, his office said in a statement.
“The decision follows a recommendation by the ISA and the Defense Ministry national anti-economic terrorism unit, which was pursuant to the [Shin Bet’s] uncovering of the Hamas terrorist organization’s use of the ‘Al Aqsa’ satellite channel to recruit militants to its ranks,” the statement said.
The station was designated a terror group by the U.S. in 2010.
Last month, the Shin Bet revealed that Gaza-based journalists on the channel had been acting as operatives of Hamas’s Izz ad-Din al-Qassam military wing. Journalists and presenters use gestures and quotes from the Quran to relay messages to terrorists, the security agency said.
It added that the secret messages and terror recruiting were two of the main reasons behind the IDF’s bombing of Al-Aqsa TV’s headquarters in Gaza in November.
Al-Aqsa TV routinely promotes violence against Israelis and rocket attacks on the Jewish state.
A half hour before the TV station was bombed, it aired a music video chanting, “Death to Israel, turn them into body parts, roast them” while footage from terror attacks and funerals of Israeli terror victims played on the screen.