Journalists Condemn Israeli Attack on West Bank Radio Station

The International Federation of Journalists has accused the Israeli authorities of a vendetta against a private radio station which has been raided, shelled and prosecuted in a series of attacks, the latest at the beginning of September.

Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary says the attack by the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) against Radio Tariq al-Mahabbah, a private station in Nablus, is part of a widespread campaign "against independent and critical voices and a continuing assault on press freedom."

During the night of 3rd to 4th of September the Israeli army stormed into the Radio's rebroadcast link station after breaking the doors. The soldiers were seen carrying out all of the equipment including a receiver, a transmitter and a modulator. Neither papers nor explanations were left behind.

Radio Tariq al-Mahabbeh was raided in the spring of 1999 when the staff were summoned to appear in front of the Israeli authorities, apparently to recuperate the confiscated material, but were instead charged with operating in an illegal radio station. In April 2002 this year, the premises were shelled with missiles and heavy artillery. Two journalists were almost killed and all the equipment completely destroyed.

"This latest attacks is further evidence that Israeli authorities are engaged in a campaign against Palestinian media in a deliberate attempt to silence independent and critical voices. It illustrates the contempt that the authorities have for pluralism and press freedom," said White.

"The Israeli Government is destroying Palestinian broadcasting facilities, both private and public, in a display of harassment and intimidation that will only cause further isolation and dislocation," he said. "Palestinian media have a right to exist. They should be respected and Palestinian journalists should be recognised as media professionals. There will be no lasting peace until these basic democratic rights are established."