Tuesday, 7 February. 2023
Your Key to Palestine
The Palestinian Initiatives for The Promotoion of Global Dialogue and Democracy

A new Palestinian satellite channel will be launched in the coming weeks, first on a two month trial basis via the ‘Arabsat’ satellite, and then as an independent channel. The channel, called ‘Siraj Al Aqsa” (The Aqsa Lamp’), will have an Islamic focus, and will be headed by members of Hamas, but will have no official link with the Islamic movement. According to project spokespeople, “It has nothing to do with Hamas, it is Palestinian for all Palestinian people, but its approach and style will be Islamic”.

The project does, however, have some ties with the Hamas movement. Following their unexpected victory in the January 2006 Palestinian elections, Hamas leadership began fundraising for the project. Through donors, project leaders were able to raise half a million dollars for the new channel.

The channel is expected to be based in Damascus, Syria, the current location of exiled Hamas political leader Khaled Meshaal. There will, however, be several branch offices, including a base in Egypt, Gaza, and the West Bank, all of which will have their own broadcasting teams and will provide local news and reports.

Sources say that the channel will embrace national unity and will be open to all opinions. The channel will, of course, focus on Palestinian affairs from an Islamic point of view. Initially, the channel will depend on imported items (such as films and series), but will gradually begin to produce its own material.

In 1991, Hezbollah launched Al-Manar (‘The Beacon’) as a way of promoting their cause and establishing a presence in the world media. The popularity of this channel also helped Hezbollah in their bid to gain seats in the Lebanese government. While the new Palestinian channel lacks an official link with Hamas, it is possible that this channel could develop into a media outlet for the resistance movement-turned political power, similar to Hezbollah’s Al-Manar channel. According to a 2004 poll, Al-Manar has a daily viewership of ten to fifteen million people and is the second most popular channel among Palestinians living in the oPt.

Project leaders also cite the diasporic nature of the Palestinian people as a reason for creating the new channel. Channel operators hope to eventually broadcast to all Palestinians, and have broadcast offices in every area where Palestinians live.

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