Israeli police closed studios, arrested employees

BAGHDAD — Paris-based media watchdog Reporters Without Borders has condemned an April 7 police raid on the Jerusalem studios of pro-peace radio station RAM FM.

The group said Israeli police closed the studios, arrested seven employees and seized the station’s transmitter on the grounds the station was disrupting communication between aircraft and the Ben Gurion Airport control tower.

“After being held overnight, the employees were placed under house arrest,” the press freedom organization said. “The methods used to close the radio station were disproportionate. The authorities could have dealt with this problem without going to these extremes.”

Reporters Without Borders said in a statement that the arrested included three reporters, two disc-jockeys, a technician and the station manager. Their nationalities are Israeli, Palestinian and South African.

They were released without being charged the next day after paying bail ranging from 10,000 to 25,000 shekels ($2,800 to $6,963) but were placed under house arrest for seven days pending the outcome of enquiries.

RAM FM, which is continuing to broadcast from its headquarters in the West Bank city of Ramallah, said the police claims were baseless.

“RAM FM obtained a broadcast permit from the Palestinian authorities with Israel’s agreement,” said the station’s lawyer, Asher Rabinowitz.

RAM FM was created last year by a South African businessman with the aim of promoting dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians. A similar station was launched in South Africa to promote national reconciliation at the end of the apartheid regime.

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