Palestinian militant group Hamas has launched its own TV station, Al-Aqsa TV, named after the mosque in Jerusalem.
Web bowed Sunday with a reading from the Koran and will concentrate on news, politics and religious programming.
Hamas has refused to disclose the Gaza-based station’s exact location for fear of attack after its Voice of Al-Aqsa radio station was destroyed by Israeli rocket fire 18 months ago.
Hamas will model Al-Aqsa TV, the first private TV station in Gaza, on satcaster Al-Manar, backed by pro-Shiite group Hizbollah.
The group plans to make the jump to satellite in the next six months to maximize its potential audience around the Mideast.
“The aim of this is to establish Islamic culture … and to spread information about important issues,” said Fathi Hammad, a Hamas leader in Gaza.
Israel has criticized the TV station and has called on the international community to close down what it deems “the propaganda organs of terrorist organizations.”
Hamas, which is still officially sworn to the destruction of Israel, is taking part in Palestinian parliamentary elections for the first time Jan. 25. The group will use the TV station to help its election campaign.