‘Systematic crimes against media freedoms’: Israeli forces raid, shut down Palestinian radio station

Israeli forces stormed a radio station in the Palestinian city of Hebron in the occupied West Bank, accusing it of “incitement” amid the ongoing recent escalation of violence between Israelis and Palestinians.

Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) broke into the office of the Palestinian Manbar al-Hurriyya (Freedom Tribune) radio station on Tuesday and destroyed the contents of its offices, including the walls and interior. The security forces also confiscated all the station’s broadcasting equipment and ripped out the wires in the building as well.

“About 2 am huge forces… around 30 military vehicles surrounded building of the radio station and stormed in. They completely destroyed the station’s property and … took the transmitters,” the station’s director, Ayman Qawasmeh, told RT.

“Then they [the soldiers] gave us a written order to stop working for the next six months,” he added.

The Israeli army accused the station of encouraging “stabbing attacks” and “violent riots,” and reporting “false and malicious claims of security forces executing and kidnapping Palestinians in order to provoke violence,” Palestinian Ma’an news agency reported.

The station was closed and its equipment confiscated “with the aim of rendering the station inoperable” and “in order to prevent the incitement which has caused a flare of violence in the region over recent weeks,” Israeli army said in a statement, adding that the closure occurred “as part of the ongoing battle against incitement.”

The statement also says that the station had already been shut down in 2002 and 2008.

“Israel says that the station is inciting to violence because we say youth are being executed,” Ayman Qawasmeh said, commenting on this statement in an interview with Voice of Palestine radio.

The statement from the Israeli army also claims that “the IDF will continue to take steps using every legal means at its disposal against the attackers and those assisting them to provide security to the residents of the State of Israel.”

The Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA) condemned the Israeli raid on the station as well as other “violations against Media Freedoms in Palestine,” which have “escalated sharply, since the beginning of last month.”

The attack “provides additional evidence that Israel disregard all calls of respecting media freedoms, and the importance to respond and stop committing those systematic crimes and violations against journalists and media freedoms in Palestine,” MADA claimed in a statement, in which it also urged the international community “to force the Israeli … Government, to abide by International Laws that guarantee Freedom of Expression.”

The escalation in violence in the West Bank and Israel erupted a month ago when Israel tried to restrict Palestinians’ access to the Al-Aqsa Mosque in the Old City of Jerusalem. About 69 Palestinians have been shot by IDF soldiers since then, some after attempting stabbing attacks. There have been 11 Israeli victims.