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Palestinian radio defies Israeli attack

The Voice of Palestine radio station is back on air - only hours after Israeli soldiers blew up the building in the West Bank town of Ramallah that houses its studios and administrative office.
Palestinian radio defies Israeli attack
- BBC World Service

The Voice of Palestine radio station is back on air - only hours after Israeli soldiers blew up the building in the West Bank town of Ramallah that houses its studios and administrative office.

Broadcasting from a private facility, the radio quoted nationalist and Islamic forces calling on Palestinians to "take to the streets, create human shields, and participate in the battle to defend the resistance, the intifadah, and the symbols of our national sovereignty".

Israeli troops supported by tanks had entered the Voice of Palestine television and radio headquarters before dawn to set explosive charges and evacuate the occupants.

The explosions sparked a fire that gutted the upper floors of the building. The BBC's Rachel Harvey says the carefully choreographed operation was the latest response to a gun attack by a Palestinian militant on Thursday which left six Israelis dead.

Israel accuses the Palestinian Authority of using its television and radio networks to broadcast propaganda that it believes fuel the uprising that began more than 15 months ago. The Palestinians say the network has simply been reporting the mood of the people,

"This is another Israeli crime against the Voice of Palestine and at the same time against the Palestinian Authority," said Bassem Abu Somaya, head of the Palestinian Broadcast Centre.

- Blockade

Israeli forces on Friday imposed a tight blockade around the Ramallah headquarters of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. Tanks rumbled forward to positions within 30 metres of his office, meeting with a shower of stones thrown by Palestinian protesters.

One of the demonstrators, 22-year-old Hani Odeh, was shot by Israeli troops. He died in hospital from bullet wounds to his head and neck, officials said.

Earlier on Friday, Israeli jets reduced a Palestinian security headquarters to rubble in the West Bank town of Tulkarm, killing one policeman and injuring at least 40 people.

- Bat Mitzvah killings

The raid came hours after a Palestinian attack in the northern city of Hadera, in which a gunman burst into a banqueting hall with an assault rifle, killing six Israelis and injuring 30. It was the first attack inside Israel since December

The Israeli Government blamed Mr Arafat for the attack - the first on civilians inside Israel in a month - and vowed to "teach him a lesson".

The United States and the European Union also condemned the killing at Hadera.

Hundreds of people, who were celebrating a teenage girl's coming-of-age, or Bat Mitzvah, were caught up in the shooting at Hadera.

The militant al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade - a Palestinian armed group associated with Mr Arafat's Fatah organisation - said the attack was carried out by a Fatah member in revenge for the killing of Fatah member Raed Karmi on Monday. It threatened further attacks.
 
 

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