CPJ condemns destruction of Palestinian radio facility

New York, December 13, 2001—The Committee to Protect Journalists today condemned Israel’s destruction of the Voice of Palestine radio station broadcasting headquarters in the West Bank city of Ramallah.

The Associated Press reported that Israeli missiles hit the building’s main transmitter, knocking the station off the air.

Later, bulldozers flattened the building while Israeli soldiers detonated explosives that toppled a 90-foot radio and television tower and destroyed the station’s transmitter, which is also used by Palestine TV.

Voice of Palestine went back on the air using another frequency. Palestine TV reportedly broadcast with poor reception.

“We are appalled by Israel’s military action against the Voice of Palestine,” said CPJ’s executive director Ann Cooper. “As civilian facilities, radio and television stations are protected from military attack under international humanitarian law. CPJ calls on Israeli authorities to cease attacking the media immediately.”

The attack came amid Israeli military strikes against Palestinian National Authority targets in what Israel describes as reprisals for the recent deadly suicide bombings and shootings carried out by radical Palestinian groups. Israel holds Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat responsible for the violence.

Israel has repeatedly accused Palestinian radio and television of inciting Palestinians to violence against Israel—a charge that Palestinians have rejected.

Previous attacks
This is not the first time that Israeli forces have targeted the Palestinian media. In October 2000, CPJ wrote to Prime Minister Ehud Barak to condemn an Israeli attack on transmission towers and other technical facilities used by the Voice of Palestine in Ramallah. The letter urged Israeli forces to “respect international humanitarian law and refrain from attacking media facilities. Such attacks place all journalists covering wars at risk by potentially undermining their civilian immunity.”

A month later, in November, Israeli helicopters bombed the offices of Palestine TV in Gaza.