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Israeli Military Raids, Shuts Down Palestinian Radio Station

  • Associated Press

FILE - Israeli border policemen aim their weapons during clashes with Palestinian students in Abu Dis,West Bank, Nov. 2, 2015.

FILE - Israeli border policemen aim their weapons during clashes with Palestinian students in Abu Dis,West Bank, Nov. 2, 2015.

The Israeli military raided a Palestinian radio station in the West Bank on Tuesday and confiscated equipment it said was being used to broadcast calls to attack Israelis.

The military said it shut down the Al Hurria radio station in the city of Hebron overnight, accusing it of inciting violence.

Israel says the current spate of violence that started in mid-September has been set off by a Palestinian campaign of lies and incitement surrounding a sensitive Jerusalem holy site. The Palestinians counter by saying it is a result of frustration from nearly a half-century of occupation.

Eleven Israelis have been killed in Palestinian attacks, mostly stabbings. Sixty-nine Palestinians have died by Israeli fire, including 43 who Israel says were involved in attacks or attempted attacks.

The violence shows no signs of abating. On Monday, a Palestinian stabbed and seriously wounded a 70-year-old man in central Israel just hours after another Palestinian knifed several people, including an 80-year-old woman, in a stabbing spree near Tel Aviv.

Hebron, the largest West Bank city, has been a particular flashpoint. Several hundred Jewish settlers live in fortified enclaves in the city, amid tens of thousands of Palestinians.

The military says over the past month Palestinians have carried out 29 attacks in the city, including 22 stabbings, four vehicular assaults and three shooting attacks.

It says the Al Hurria station has been encouraging stabbing attacks and glorifying the attackers.

The station's director, Ayman Qawasmeh, said Israel troops raided the station after 2 a.m., destroyed equipment and confiscated transmitters.

"This is a clear violent aggression on the Palestinian media,'' he said. "We didn't incite, we just reported the Israeli daily crimes against our people in Hebron. They want to silence our voice.''

The violence has been fueled by rumors among Palestinians that Israel was plotting to take over the sensitive Jerusalem holy site sacred to both Jews and Muslims.

Israel has adamantly denied it is changing the delicate status quo that governs the site, but Palestinians point to an increase in visits by extremist Jews who call for a greater Jewish presence there, as well as hard-line government ministers who support their cause. Under a longstanding arrangement, Jews are allowed to visit the site but cannot pray there.

Israel's internal security service Shin Bet said Tuesday it slapped a restraining order on an extremist Jewish activist, banning him from Jerusalem for six months because of his "involvement in activities that encourage provocations'' at the holy site.

The Shin Bet identified the man as Dov Morel, who Israeli media said was active in a group calling for Jewish prayer rights the Jerusalem site.

Israel has previously banned another Jewish activist from the holy site and during the current round of violence, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu barred lawmakers from visiting the site. But banning an Israeli from Jerusalem is a rare move that reflects Israel's attempts to lower tensions and stamp out the violence.

The Jerusalem hilltop compound, known to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary, lies at the heart of recent tensions. The compound is Judaism's most sacred place, the site of the two Jewish biblical Temples. It is also revered by Muslims as the spot where the Prophet Muhammad ascended to heaven in a nighttime journey.