Israel government orders newspaper closed for two years


From: "Gale Courey Toensing" <gale@mohawk.net>
Date: Sun, 22 Dec 2002 20:52:04 -0500
Subject: Israeli gov. shuts down newspaper that criticized occupation
Israel government orders newspaper closed for two years

Occupied Jerusalem: 22 December, 2002 (IAP News) The Israeli interior minister on Sunday ordered an Israeli weekly newspaper closed for two years for making harsh criticisms of the Israeli occupation and apartheid rule in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

The Israeli state-run radio said Interior Minister Eli Yeshai decided to close down Sawt al Haq Walhurriya (Voice of Truth and Freedom), a weekly newspaper, published by the Islamic movement in Israel in the Arab Israeli town of Um El-Fahm.

The radio quoted unidentified government sources as accusing the paper of supporting the Palestinian struggle against the Israeli colonialist rule. The paper's editor Tawfiq Eerer criticized the closure order, saying Israeli democracy was still too fragile and undeveloped to tolerate dissenting voices.

"Israel is a democracy. However, when it comes to non-Jews, democracy becomes spasmodic and intolerant of dissenting views," Eerer said.

Israel routinely closes down publications and electronic media in the Occupied Territories and arrests Palestinian journalists for communicating to the outside world Israeli repressive measures against Palestinians, thus making its claim of being the "only democracy in the region" rather dubious.

In a recently published first worldwide index of press freedom, Reporters Without Borders ranked Israel 92nd out of 139 countries surveyed. Neighboring Lebanon ranked 56th in the survey.

In their report, the group stated: ...."in the West Bank and Gaza, Reporters Without Borders has recorded a large number of violations of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which guarantees press freedom and which Israel has signed. Since the start of the Israeli army's incursions into Palestinian towns and cities in March 2002, very many journalists have been roughed up, threatened, arrested, banned from moving around, targeted by gunfire, wounded or injured, had their press cards withdrawn or been deported."

The full report can be read online at: www.rsf.fr/article.php3?id_article=4116.