As the security chaos escalated in Gaza yesterday, the number of its victims increased. A group of armed men attacked the Ash-Shaab (People’s Voice) radio station office in Gaza city yesterday, where they shot at the staff members with live ammunition and smashed equipment. Al Mezan has documented the killing of 157 Palestinians, the injuring of 972, the abduction of 72 (including 15 foreign citizens), as well as 94 assaults on Palestinian institutions since the start of 2006.
According to the affidavit given to Al Mezan by one of the Ash-Shaab Radio staff members, at approximately 7pm Wednesday, 1 November 2006, the station received a telephone threat from a person who claimed to have worked for a security apparatus in Gaza. The staff member stated that the threat came after the station had broadcast news about an alleged high-level replacement of the head of this apparatus. The station was soon contacted by the director of the same apparatus who was given the time to speak live and deny that the replacement had occurred.
However, three armed men appeared at the station’s office in Thalathini Street in Gaza City and forced its six staff members and two guests into one room in the office. One militant aimed his gun at them, while the other two destroyed the equipment in another room. They then opened fire on the feet of the staff; four of whom were injured by splinters.
It is also worth noting that some 20 armed men had attacked the office of Al Ummal radio station on 12 October 2006, attacked the staff and destroyed equipment.
Al Mezan Centre for Human Rights condemns all kinds of assault on the media, which is a serious manifestation of the security chaos in Gaza. Such acts demand a quick response from the Palestinian officials and the law enforcement establishment, who are obliged to investigate and bring to justice the individuals responsible.
Al Mezan is highly concerned about the impact of such attacks on the freedom of opinion and expression, as well as the functions of free media, in the OPT. These rights are essential and must be protected in all circumstances. The protection of basic human rights and fundamental freedoms is essential for any efforts to restore security and order in the Palestinian society, which is the main function of any Palestinian government.