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Palestinian Authority Closes TV Station


The Palestinian Authority has shut down a private television station in the West Bank town of Bethlehem for reporting that a Palestinian group had claimed responsibility for the killing of an Israeli woman. The authority's action was strongly condemned by the Committee for the Protection of Journalists.

The Al-Roa, or Shepherd's TV station in Bethlehem was ordered to stop broadcasting by Palestinian police because it allegedly incited violence.

The order came after the station announced that the killing of a woman from the nearby Jewish settlement of Tekoa was claimed by a paramilitary group, the Al-Aqsa Brigades.

The group has close links to Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's Fatah faction of the Palestine Liberation Organization.

The shooting, in which the woman's husband was also seriously injured, came only two days after Mr. Arafat ordered a cease-fire "on all fronts," prompting Israel to suspend all offensive military operations against the Palestinians.

The killing threatened to undermine a truce declared by both sides at the urging of the U.S. government.

The closing of the TV station is not the first time in recent days that the Palestinian Authority has cracked down on the media.

Palestinian police arrested several journalists for filming and taking photographs of Palestinians rejoicing over the attacks in New York and Washington on September 11.

The executive director of the New York-based Committee for the Protection of Journalists, Ann Cooper, says by closing the television station in Bethlehem the Palestinian Authority has again shown "its contempt" for press freedom.

She called on the Palestinian Authority to "to resume broadcasting without further hindrance."

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