By Maher Abukhater
Ramallah, Nov 29 – Dozens of Israeli soldiers raided a radio station in the middle of the Palestinian-controlled city of Hebron, in the south of the West Bank early Sunday and ordered it shut down for six months, according to radio officials.
The closure order for Radio Dream is the third against a Palestinian radio station in Hebron, which has recently witnessed a rise in anti-Israeli occupation attacks and protests in and around the city.
Israel earlier this month had shut down Al Huriya and Hebron radio stations on alleged charges of incitement against Israelis.
Dream owner Talab Ja’bari said soldiers raided the station at around 3:00 in the morning local time, blew up the doors to the offices and seized the transmission and other equipment before ransacking the place.
The soldiers left a notice in the office saying that the station will be closed for six months and the reason, he said, was incitement against Israel and incitement “to kill innocent people.”
“Israel says that our coverage and exposure of its acts and measures in the Palestinian areas and particularly in Hebron is terrorism and incitement,” said Ja’bari.
“We only report facts and we do it in a professional way and if Israel considers the media coverage as incitement then all our stations and media are under threat of closure, including the official ones because we all report what is happening in our cities and towns,” he said.
He called on the Palestinian Authority to act immediately to put a stop to these measures by Israel, particularly since the stations are located in areas under its full control and are officially licensed.
The Palestinian Ministry of Information, which issues licenses for the operation of the local radio and TV stations, condemned in a statement Israel’s measures describing them as “a campaign of terrorism against the Palestinian media spearheaded by (Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu and his government.”
It said that through these actions, Israel is trying to censor Palestinian reports to prevent the world from hearing the Palestinian story of the events currently evolving in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
More than 100 Palestinians and almost 20 Israelis have been killed since early October when the Palestinians started what some have referred to as the third Intifada against Israeli occupation.
While Israel is shutting down Palestinian stations on allegation of incitement, said the Ministry of Information, “it forgets that the incitement to hatred is actually practiced in all its official political, legislative, economic, education and media organs.”
Israel destroyed in 2002 the state-run Palestinian radio and TV building and transmission tower in Ramallah during its reoccupation of the West Bank cities.
It has also raided and ransacked several other stations during that period.
The Israeli authorities have also issued last week warnings to two other Palestinian radio stations in Hebron and Jenin, in the north of the West Bank, alerting them that they will be shut down if they do not stop what it referred to as incitement.
Tareq Sweitat, director of Nas radio in Jenin said he received the warning in a fax.
He said the warning came because his station was playing nationalist songs, which is something all the 40 plus radio stations throughout the West Bank do at this time.