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Pro-peace radio journalists released after police shut down Jerusalem studio

Pro-peace radio journalists released after police shut down Jerusalem studio
Rammed and jammed: An employee is seen inside the South African-owned radio station at Ram FM, in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Monday, March 24, 2008. After a year on the air, the music station with studios in Jerusalem and the West Bank has attracted a diverse audience of tens of thousands, from Israeli soldiers and Palestinian students to West Bank villagers, Anglo immigrants, Filipino maids and foreign diplomats. But now RAM-FM, owned by Jewish businessman Issy Kirsh in South Africa, has greater ambitions. Modeled after a South African station that provided a venue for reconciliation after apartheid, RAM-FM wants to create a safe place for Israelis and Palestinians to talk, and make money in the process.Photo: AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen

Seven employees of a pro-peace radio station in Israel were released from jail Tuesday, a day after police raided the station's Jerusalem office and seized its transmission equipment, the Associated Press (AP) has reported.

On Monday, police shut down the transmitter and closed the studio, saying the station was broadcasting without a permit. There are numerous pirate radio stations broadcasting throughout Israel, which are often blamed for dangerous disruptions in airport air traffic communications and interference in regular radio broadcasts.

The English-language station, RAM-FM, plays Western music and tries to bring Israelis and Palestinians together through its broadcasts. It is headquartered in the West Bank city of Ramallah, but has an office in Jerusalem and a local transmitter on another frequency.

The Foreign Press Association, which represents foreign media covering Israel and the Palestinian territories, condemned Israeli police for keeping the journalists detained overnight and demanded their immediate release.

"Notwithstanding the merits of the charges brought by the Ministry of Communications against RAM-FM, the FPA strongly deplores their continued detention in police custody and calls on those holding them to pursue the matter through routine channels rather than through this absurd imprisonment—now approaching a full 24 hours in jail," a statement by the group said. The employees were released later in the day.

Owned by a South African Jewish businessman, the radio station is modeled after a South African station that provided a venue for reconciliation after apartheid, a Haaretz report mentioned. The station's tens of thousands of listeners include Palestinians, settlers and foreign diplomats, a portion of whom participate in its talkback segments.

Yehiel Shalvi, a spokesman for the Israeli Communications Ministry, said the broadcast interfered with airwaves and endangered airport communications. He said the raid was part of a recent effort to crack down of pirate radio stations operating in Israel. Raf Gagnat, the station's media consultant, who also hosts a morning show, said those detained included his wife Maysoun Gangat, who is the station manager, news director Mark Klusener and two reporters.

Date posted: April 8, 2008 Last modified: May 23, 2018 Total views: 535