JERUSALEM Israel's national broadcast authority has rejected radio ads criticizing the government for stranding Palestinian university students in the Gaza Strip, a broadcasting official said Wednesday, calling them too controversial.
The ads, submitted by a group working for the free movement of Palestinians, target Israeli sanctions that have trapped hundreds of Gaza students who hoped to study abroad. The group, Gisha, is appealing the decision.
The ads feature two prominent Israeli authors and a former Cabinet minister calling on the government to let the students out.
In one, author Yonatan Geffen recounts how as a young man he was given a scholarship to study English literature in Cambridge, England, and met his first girlfriend there "Anne, an incredibly beautiful blonde."
"The right to study crosses borders and conflict. We all have the right to study," he says in the banned ad.
Israel imposed the blockade after militant group Hamas seized power in Gaza in 2007, and tightened the sanctions because of ongoing rocket fire at Israeli towns. Egypt has also sealed its crossing with the territory.
Israel and Hamas are currently observing a truce. Israel has increased the trickle of goods entering the territory and has allowed some Palestinians in for medical treatment. But most Gazans are still not free to leave.
"The spot was not approved for broadcast in the format the advertiser requested because it contains a controversial political message," Israel Broadcasting Authority spokeswoman Linda Bar said in a statement.
She cited regulations according to which "commercials with controversial political messages cannot go on the air."
The step is not unusual. Another ad submitted earlier this month by a hardline hawkish group criticizing the government's removal of Jewish settlers from Gaza in 2005 was also rejected for the same reason, another official at the authority said. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to comment beyond the official statement.
The Israel Broadcasting Authority, a government-appointed but independent body, supervises radio broadcasting in Israel. The service offers several national radio channels in Hebrew, one that broadcasts in Arabic and another in foreign languages for immigrants.