IDF soldiers remove a piece of broadcasting equipment as they shut the al-Sanabel radio station in Dura on August 31, 2016. Photo by IDF Spokesperson’s Unit/Ma’an news
HEBRON — Israeli forces raided and ransacked a Palestinian radio station early on Wednesday [Aug.31] morning in the town of Dura in the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron, detained five of the station’s employees, and ordered it to be closed for three months, amid a documented escalation of violations against media freedoms by Israeli forces in the occupied Palestinian territory.
Locals told Ma’an that Israeli forces raided al-Sanabel radio station, destroyed its contents, and confiscated transmission and broadcast equipment.
Israeli forces left a closure order on the door of the radio station.
Locals added that Israeli forces detained head of the radio station Ahmad al-Darawish, as well as radio employees Muhammad al-Sus, Nidal Amro, Muntaser Nassar, and Hamed al-Nammura after raiding their homes.
Israeli army spokesperson Avichay Adraee said in a statement in Arabic that Israeli forces, police, and civil administration authorities closed al-Sanabel upon a military order claiming that the radio station broadcast programmes inciting against Israel.
Adraee added that the five detainees were transferred for interrogation.
News of the closure came after Palestinian press freedoms watchdog MADA released a report on Saturday saying Israeli violations against media freedoms in the occupied Palestinian territory increased by 17 percent during the first half of 2016.
MADA General Director Moussa Rimawi [above] said in the semi-annual report that while the total number of violations by both Israeli and Palestinian authorities declined from 224 cases in the first half of 2015 to 198 in the first half of this year — a rate of 12 percent — Israeli violations continued to climb, as Palestinian authorities committed 41 percent less violations during the same period.
A total of 133 violations committed by Israel were recorded during the period.
The most common types of violations committed by Israel were physical attacks, arrests, confiscation of equipment, prevention of coverage, and detentions.
The report highlighted that Israeli authorities closed two media institutions — Falastin al-Yawm and TransMedia Production Company — after ransacking and confiscating equipment from their offices in March.
Meanwhile, some 23 journalists and media workers were detained between January and June of 2016.
The report also noted an escalation of the Israeli practice of detaining Palestinians for social media activity, with Israeli authorities alleging that a wave of unrest that swept the occupied Palestinian territory last October was encouraged largely by “incitement.”
Palestinians have instead pointed chiefly to the frustration and despair brought on by Israel’s nearly 50-year military occupation of the Palestinian territory and the absence of a political horizon.
MADA said in the report that they were “gravely concerned regarding all systematic attacks and violence against journalists and media workers by the Israeli occupation, and urges state members to do their utmost to prevent violence against journalists, to ensure accountability, and bring to justice perpetrators of crimes against media freedoms.”
MADA Press Release
August 31, 2016
Ramallah – Israeli occupation authorities continued their systematic attacks and grave breaches against media freedoms in Palestine, as at dawn on Wednesday 31/08/2016 IOF stormed Radio Sanabel Office that broadcasts from Hebron district /West Bank, destroyed and confiscated many of its equipment and contents, rather than arresting five members of its staff, a clear cut of an Israel systematic practice and policy that explicitly target Palestinian Media Institutions and undermine their ability to work.
Board of Directors member at Radio “Sanabel” Wajdi Mohammed Guraz in his affidavit reported to MADA “at two o’clock in the morning (31/08/2016) a force of IOF [in] around 15 armoured vehicles surrounded the area where Sanabel Radio is located, they stormed the headquarters which is located at Dura City Centre, Hebron Governorate, after smashing the front door”.
He also added “at the Radio station they arrested the broadcast engineer Hamed Alnamoura (25 years), while they arrested the director of the radio station Ahmad Sameeh Darawish (23 years), and the broadcasters (Muntaser Mohammad Nassar/23 years, Nidal Omar/23 years, Mohammad Akram Omran /23 years) were all arrested from their houses)”.
Guraz clarified “IOF confiscated all equipment at the headquarters, listing: a transmitter, mixer, 4 Personal Computers , 2 laptops, 3 microphones, 2 TV screens, one Router, Fibre for Net, and smashed and remained equipment at the headquarters, they welded the front door of the radio station and stick a decision of 3 months shut down under the pretext of receiving funds from Hamas as mentioned in (the military decision of shutting down the station), noting that we launched a campaign yesterday to rebuild the houses of Palestinian prisoners at an Israeli detention centre, which were demolished in Dura City.”
Al Sanabel Radio Station is considered to be the third media institution that is exposed to such grave and serious attack, since the beginning of 2016, and the sixth in less than a year ago (particularly since early October 2015) rather than other threats by Israeli Occupation of shutting down three other media institutions, besides, to 20 other media institutions that were exposed to bombardment and destruction during Operation Protective Edge (Aggression on Gaza 2014).
This violation against Sanabel Radio Station is considered as another series of the continued and systematic attacks against media institutions that aims to silent Palestine Media through different practices; one of the most serious is targeting media organizations severely that underline their ability to continue performing and work due to the heavy losses and serious damages that hinders and impedes them to resume its work.
The Palestinian Centre for Development and Media Freedoms “MADA” strongly condemns this grave breach and serious attack against Al Sanabel Radio station and all other Israeli violations against media freedoms that escalated to 17% since the first half of 2016, hence, MADA demands the international community to put pressure On Israel to cancel their decision of shutting down the radio station, releasing its staff, and to abide by International Human Rights and Humanitarian law, and stop all their blatant systematic violations and to ensure reparation of all equipment that were destructed and losses that took place, and to abide Israel by law and respecting Freedom of Expression to the Palestinian people and stop their punitive measurements that include destruction and shutting down media institutions.
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