RSF decries Israel’s closure of Palestinian radio station

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns Israel’s closure of Al-Khalil, a radio based in Hebron, in the West Bank. Accusing it of inciting violence, Israeli soldiers searched it on 21 November and then closed it for six moths. It was the second Hebron-based station to be banned from broadcasting since the start of November.

-------- The Israel Defence Forces closed a third Palestianian radio station in Hebron on 29 November on the same grounds of inciting violence. Soldiers searched Radio Dream, confiscating equipment and causing a great deal of damage. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has learned that other media outlets in the West Bank have been threatened with the same fate. The IDF warned Jenin-based Radio Al-Nass for “inciting hatred and violence.” Radio One and Wattan TV, which broadcast from Hebron, were also threatened with closure for allowing Al Hurriyya, a radio station that was closed down, to broadcast from their premises. RSF condemns this intimidation of media outlets, which have no legal recourse, and urges the Israeli military authorities to return the confiscated material and allow these media to resume operating. -------- In a communiqué, the Israel Defence Forces accused Al-Khalil of inciting violence and hatred against Israeli security forces and civilians. The station’s programme director, Ezz Haddad, denied the charge. “We condemn this disproportionate decision,” said Alexandra El Khazen, the head of RSF’s Middle East desk. “The authorities use the state of emergency regulations to censor media they don’t like. There should first be an investigation and then, if the facts are confirmed, judicial proceedings should be initiated.” The authorities make arbitrary use of the state of emergency regulations, which date back to 1945, in the Palestinian territories. The regulations allow the authorities to censor media outlets and to arrest suspects without reference to a judge and hold them without trial indefinitely. News media may also be closed without reference to a judge and without any possibility of legal recourse except to a military court. After storming into Al-Khalil at night, soldiers ransacked the station and confiscated equipment. Photos and videos on social networks show the extent of the damage. The Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate condemned the arbitrary closure and called for an end to the IDF’s acts of violence against Palestinian media. Just over two weeks before the Al-Khalil raid, Al-Hurriyya, a Hebron-based radio station affiliated to Fatah, was closed on the same grounds. This was the third time it has been closed since its creation in 2002. Finally, according to our sources, the Israeli government recently order the closure of two other media outlets owned by the Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement, after this group was declared illegal for inciting violence. The closures have come at a time of tension and violence between Palestinians and Israelis. Since the start of this violence in September, RSF has registered more than 50 cases of attacks against journalists, some of whom were deliberately targeted by the IDF. The Israeli security forces are on the RSF list of “Predators of Press Freedom” because of their repeated use of physical force against journalists. Israel is ranked 101st out of 180 countries in the 2015 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.
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Updated on 08.03.2016