Israeli army raids, shuts down Palestinian radio station

The Israeli army claimed to shut down Al-Hurria station in Hebron, because it glorfies attacks against Israelis

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The Israeli army on Tuesday raided and shut down a Palestinian radio station, confiscating equipment and causing significant damage, after the military accused it of celebrating attacks on Israelis.

Dozens of soldiers barged into the offices of the Al-Hurria station in Hebron in the occupied West Bank in the early hours of Tuesday morning, the station’s executive director said in a video posted online.

The army said the station was shut down and that its coverage “glorifies attacks against Israelis”.

Ayman al-Qawasmi, Al-Hurria’s director, said soldiers approached the building around 2:00 am (0000 GMT).

“We thought it was related to the campaign of arrests but were surprised to see they were targeting the radio’s premises,” he said.

“Unfortunately they destroyed everything inside the building, there is nothing left... They confiscated broadcasting equipment, microphones.”

An AFP photographer at the station said damage caused by the raid was considerable, with equipment and signs torn from walls and furniture upturned.

The Union of Palestinian Journalists said the station was informed it would be closed until April, calling the decision an “awful and heinous crime which reflects the (Israelis’) barbaric, criminal, terrorist mentality towards Palestinian media.”

The Israeli army said media incitement was a key factor in the “aggravation, encouraging and celebration of the recent wave of terror”.

The station, the army said, “encourages stabbing attacks, violent riots and reports false and malicious claims of security forces executing and kidnapping Palestinians in order to provoke violence.”

In the past two weeks, around 20 young Palestinians have been shot by Israeli forces in and around Hebron. The army has accused them of trying to stab Israeli security forces or settlers.

Palestinians -- including media outlets such as Al-Hurria -- have in some cases disputed the official version of events, claiming some of the dead were either unarmed or did not represent a direct threat.

Al-Hurria was formed in the Gaza Strip in 2002 by Fatah, the political party of Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, the Israeli army said.

After the strip was taken over by the Islamist movement Hamas, the station moved to Hebron in the West Bank, it said.

Israel has closed the station twice before, in 2002 and 2008.

Nine Israelis, 68 Palestinians -- around half of them alleged attackers -- and an Arab Israeli have been killed in a wave of violence since the start of October.

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