April 2, 2014 GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — The Hamas-led Gaza government is preparing to launch its own Al Ra’i satellite television channel, a new addition to an array of print and electronic media outlets by the same name.
The head of the government media office, Ihab al-Ghussein, announced Feb. 16 that a Council of Ministers resolution is being implemented to establish a television channel that will reflect government policies on various Palestinian issues.
‘The satellite channel will convey a media message best serving the Palestinian cause and national agenda,’ Ghussein said in an interview with Hamas-affiliated newspaper Felesteen.
The Gaza government and Hamas own a number of media outlets, mostly established after Hamas’ victory in the 2006 elections. They include a daily and semi-weekly newspapers, a number of local FM radio stations, a monthly newspaper that deals with social issues, a variety of local news agencies and websites, a media production company and the Al-Aqsa satellite television channel, as well as a few television channels and news sites abroad.
The Al Ra’i satellite channel is expected to begin pilot broadcasts this year. Its general manager, Ismail al-Thawabteh, tried to downplay the impact of Gaza’s financial crisis on the launch and refused to divulge the estimated costs of establishing the channel.
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The GMBDW reported in March on what was described as the worst economic crisis facing Hamas since the group seized power in Gaza seven years ago. US media reported in January that Hamas was under what was described as severe economic strain as a result of losing income from the shuttered Gaza smuggling tunnels. The GMBDW also reported in January on what was described the “rapprochement” between Hamas and Iran following a three year breach as well as on the continuing decline of relations between Hamas and Egypt.
The Hamas charter says that it is “one of the wings of the Muslim Brothers in Palestine” and soon after Hamas took over the Gaza strip, Muslim Brotherhood representatives traveled to Gaza from Egypt through the newly opened border to review Hamas military formations. A Hamas journalist has acknowledged the role that the “international Muslim Brotherhood” has played in providing funds for the purchase of weapons and Hamas is known to be supported financially and politically by the global Muslim Brotherhood. A Muslim Brotherhood spokesman revealed that a coalition of London-based Muslim groups, including the Muslim Brotherhood, were behind the mass demonstrations staged to protest Israeli actions in the 2008 Gaza war and the Global Muslim Brotherhood and its Turkish affiliates were also intimately involved, along with the Turkish government, in the June 2010 Gaza flotilla that was involved in a violent altercation with Israeli naval forces. Following a period of seeming ascension related to the period of Egyptian rule by the Muslim Brotherhood, the organization was forced to scramble to try and find other state sponsors after Mohamed Morsi was deposed as President. In September 2013, it appeared that Hamas had succeeded in re-establishing close ties with Iran. In January 2013, Israeli intelligence sources claimed that Turkey has replaced Iran as the chief source of Hamas financing.