IFJ Condemns Seizure of Palestinian Radio's Equipment in Bethlehem

The International

Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today called on Israeli authorities to return

equipment seized by soldiers after a raid on Radio Bethlehem 2000 last

week in Beit Jala near Bethlehem, shutting down the station.

"We strongly condemn this

heavy handed act of censorship," said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. "The

fact that the Israeli military considers the station's broadcast as negative to

their interests do not justify shutting it down."

According to the station's

manager, George Canawati, Israeli military raided the station's headquarters on

25 August and ordered the technician dismantle the equipment for broadcasting

which they took away. They reportedly said they did not like Radio Bethlehem's

broadcasts and warned they would bomb the station if it resumed broadcasting.

The Palestinian

Journalists Syndicate (PJS), an IFJ affiliate, joined the staff of Radio

Bethlehem and journalists in the West Bank in protests

which were held on Sunday to demand the return of the confiscated material.

The IFJ supports the

protest and says the soldiers' action against the radio station, which is otherwise

popular because of its entertainment and culture programming, illustrates

intolerance of alternative media views of the situation in Palestine.

"This intimidation will

only further alienate people and lead to further resentment," added White. "The

authorities must immediately return the equipment and put an end to this knee-jerk

form of military censorship."

For more information contact the IFJ at +32 2 235

2207

The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists

in 123 countries worldwide