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A Strategy of Silencing Palestinian Media  Wed, January 22, 2002

As part of continuos deliberate Israeli attacks on Palestinian institutions and infrastructure, the Palestinian suffered a major blow last week by the destruction of the TV & Radio building in Ramallah. Israeli tanks, on the 18th of January, surrounded the building, which housed the TV and Radio station in the Ersaal neighborhood of the city of Ramallah. Then, Israeli soldiers forced their way into the building and set dynamites inside each room. In a matter of minutes, the entire building from the inside was destroyed leaving behind piles of rubbles of spoilt equipment, tapes and studio furniture. The staff and employees of the Palestinian TV and Radio stood outside watching their offices and machines blown up in front of their very eyes. It was a heart breaking and sad scene for many. Some wept openly. Others held their anger in disbelief that such an action was taking place in our modern day and age.

This is not considered the first time that Israel attacks Palestinian media institutions. In the Gaza Strip, approximately at the beginning of the current Intfidah, January 2001, Israeli Apache Helicopters destroyed a transmission station called Al Muntar, located in the east of Gaza City. That station was responsible for connecting the West Bank with Gaza Strip to broadcast national programs for both TV and Radio. Few days after destroying the Al Muntar station, again, Apaches fired several missiles at another receiving and transmission station, Al zafer, located in the heart of Gaza City. Those two stations used to form an important link between Gaza Strip and West Bank.

One Palestinian TV official from Gaza said, it is an obvious plan and strategy by Israel. TV and Radio are powerful symbols of Sovereignty. Israeli government intends to destroy any hope of future Palestinian statehood symbols. He added, the way they did it was extremely provoking. They did not just fired missiles at the TV building in Ramalah. They actually sent soldiers to wire up each room and then detonate them with dynamites. That is very painful and humiliating.

Another Palestinian TV engineer said, Israel destroyed our TV building in Ramallah at a time when Palestinians showed a great degree of restraint. We experienced three weeks of calm. But, look what they do.

Many staff from the Gaza TV station expressed deep concern for the future.
Our TV programming is under extreme pressure. Said one person working for the TV. Israel is trying to silence the truth. We are being punished by airing our voice. They do not want the world to know our side of the story. And that is dangerous. When people begin to believe only the Israeli version of events, that will add only to confusion and more conflict. It is a tragedy. He added. Another colleague engineer said, look at what we are broadcasting now; old cartoon films. We should be airing programs of great concern especially in this critical time but we fear Israeli reprisal.

Many of the staff at the Palestinian TV agree that Israel has succeeded in marketing their version of events to the world community. The Palestinian staff described Israeli media as a strategy aimed at delivering a purely Israeli view to the outside world.

One official commented, In addition to this global and powerful Israeli media influence, their occupation military forces try to silence Palestinian voice and the means to transmit it.

Gaza City,

January 22nd. 2002.


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