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Israeli soldiers seize radio station's equipment

(MADA/IFEX) - On 25 August 2009, Israeli forces confiscated the broadcasting equipment of Radio Bethlehem 2000, in the town of Beit Jala near Bethlehem.

Radio manager George Canawati said that an Israeli army force, composed of five vehicles, raided the station's broadcasting headquarters in Beit Jala, at about 6:00 p.m. (local time). They asked the technician to dismantle the broadcasting equipment and confiscated it. They then advised him to not try to resume operations "because we do not like to hear from Bethlehem 2000". The soldiers warned that the station would be bombed if it went on the air again.

The radio broadcast was halted. The station's head office is located in the town of Beit Sahour, and it was founded in 1996.

In a separate incident, the Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA) denounced the actions of the Israeli authorities against the Swedish newspaper "Aftonbladet" in recent days, since the publication of a report written by journalist Donald Bostrom on the alleged Israeli theft of organs from Palestinians killed by the Israeli army.

The Israeli authorities also prevented the newspaper reporter and a photographer from entering the Gaza Strip on 23 August. The two were informed by the Government Press Office that they should wait for three months, according to the "Yeda'ot Ahronot" newspaper.

MADA expresses its condemnation of the closure of Radio Bethlehem 2000, and urges the international community to put pressure on the government of Israel to return the confiscated broadcasting equipment, and to allow the Swedish journalists to enter the Gaza Strip.

MADA considers these actions a blatant violation of freedom of expression.

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