A Statement by Voice of Palestine radio

Voice of Palestine radio has accused Israel of destroying freedom of expression after Israeli army bulldozers knocked down its building and transmitters in the West Bank town of Ramallah early on Thursday morning. A broadcast on the Palestinian FM radio station Amwaj, which is relaying VOP programmes for the time being, denied it was broadcasting incitements to violence and pledged to continue with what it described as its professional duty to report the news.

The following are excerpts from the VOP statement.

"As part of the hostile war Israel is launching against our Palestinian people and their National Authority - the Authority's legitimate agencies and establishments - Israel completely destroyed the Voice of Palestine radio station at dawn on Thursday, 13 December 2001.

"This is an aggression confirming that Israel has put the last nail in the coffin of what it alleges to be the freedom of opinion, expression and democracy. It also proves that it has made a final decision to put an end to the peace process and to any peace effort.

"While coming under this serious attack, the Palestinian Radio and Television Corporation stresses to the world public that Israel's accusations and claims that the radio station is airing incitement are baseless.

"Its claims expose its premeditated hostile intentions against the freedom of opinion and expression, and against human rights. They also reveal the Israeli Government's insistence on continuing its attacks on our people and their humanitarian and civil establishments.

"They seek to blow up all agreements in order to achieve the perfect crime silently and without any prosecution witnesses.

"The repressive Israeli trend of muzzling mouths and choking voices is one that has been proved to be deeply rooted in Israeli policy. It seeks to publicize one speech, which is that of Israeli violence, killing, and aggression, which manifests itself daily through bombardment, destruction, and killing innocent people.

"It recently reached its peak when F-16 warplanes were used to bomb civilian targets in areas inhabited by civilians, killing tens of innocent people, including children...

"As a national institution concerned with preserving the ethics of the profession and the integrity of the press and media, the Palestinian Radio and Television Corporation stresses that it will continue its professional and national role in exposing Israel's aggressive actions, proceeding from its media duty and role in reporting events..."