IDF troops destroy Palestinian broadcast facilities in Gaza

New York February 21, 2002—The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) condemns the destruction of a Palestinian broadcasting facility in the Gaza Strip by Israeli forces today. Early this morning in the Gaza city of Al-Shijaieh, Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) troops entered a two-story building that houses offices and studios used by the Palestinian National Authority’s broadcast outlets, Voice of Palestine radio (VOP) and Palestine Television.

Khaled Al-Siam, the station’s director, told Agence France-Presse that the IDF soldiers confiscated equipment and later detonated explosives, setting the building on fire and causing it to collapse.

“We condemn this unjust and illegal assault on Palestinian broadcast facilities,” said CPJ executive director Ann Cooper. “We remind Israeli authorities that radio and television stations are civilian installations, and therefore protected from military attack under international humanitarian law.” Israel has repeatedly accused Palestinian radio and television of inciting Palestinian violence against Israel. An analysis of VOP broadcasting by CPJ found that while the station reflected the political perspective of the Palestinian Authority, there was no evidence that the station was used for military purposes. On January 19, Israeli forces destroyed a VOP broadcast building in Ramallah. The forces confiscated equipment and later detonated explosives, setting the building on fire and causing half of it to collapse.

Similarly, Israeli forces destroyed a VOP broadcasting facility in Ramallah on December 13, 2001. Israeli missiles hit the building’s main transmitter, knocking the station off the air. Later, bulldozers flattened the building. Israeli soldiers also detonated explosives that toppled a 90-foot radio and television tower and destroyed the station’s transmitter, which was also used by Palestine TV. In October 2000, Israeli forces attacked transmission towers and other technical facilities used by the Voice of Palestine in Ramallah. A month later, in November 2000, Israeli helicopters bombed the offices of Palestine TV in the Gaza Strip.