The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) condemns in the strongest terms Israel’s destruction today of the Palestinian Broadcasting Corporation building in the West Bank city of Ramallah.
Early this morning, Israeli forces entered the five-story building, which houses administrative offices and broadcasting facilities for the Palestinian National Authority’s Voice of Palestine (VOP) radio station as well as studios for the official Palestine Television. The forces confiscated equipment and later detonated explosives, setting the building on fire and causing half of it to collapse, according to international press reports.
VOP resumed broadcasting using the facilities of a private West Bank Palestinian radio station while the Gaza-based Palestine TV also continued to broadcast through its main facility.
“We condemn this reprehensible attack,” said CPJ Executive Director Ann Cooper. “By repeatedly targeting these media, Israel is not only depriving the Palestinian public of news and information, but also placing all journalists covering conflicts at risk by potentially undermining their civilian status. Radio and television stations are civilian facilities, and therefore protected from military attack under international humanitarian law.”
The Israel Defense Forces termed the action a response to an attack by a Palestinian gunman in the Israeli city of Hadera two days ago, in which six were killed and dozens wounded at a banquet hall.
Israel has repeatedly accused Palestinian radio and television of inciting Palestinians to violence against Israel-a charge that Palestinians have rejected.
On December 13, 2001, Israeli forces destroyed a VOP broadcasting building in Ramallah. 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 Gaza.