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Palestinians Protest Israeli Military Action

Thousands of Palestinians have taken to the streets in support of Yasser Arafat, and to protest the latest Israeli military offensive against their areas.

Members of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's Fatah faction marched, calling for Israel to end its military siege against him and Palestinian national institutions.

Demonstrations were held in Gaza City and the West Bank town of Ramallah, where Israeli tanks surround Mr. Arafat's headquarters, preventing him from travelling outside his compound.

The demonstrators in Ramallah marched to the Palestinian broadcasting center that was demolished Saturday by Israeli forces.

Despite the destruction of the building, Voice of Palestine radio continued its broadcasts on alternate FM frequencies.

Palestinian Cabinet Minister Ziyad Abu Ziyad, says Israel will never be able to silence the Palestinian people through military action. "Israel will not be able to stop the Palestinian voice and to break the Palestinian will," he said. "We will continue our struggle until we achieve our national rights."

Israeli Government spokesman Arieh Mekel says the action was justified because of Thursday's massacre of six Jews by a Palestinian gunman, who opened fire at a teenage girl's bat mitzvah (coming-of-age) ceremony. "It was one of the most shocking terrorist attacks on Israeli citizens in a long time," declared Mr. Mekel. "This Palestinian television and radio station has long been a center of incitement against the state of Israel and against the Jewish people."

Radwan Abu Ayyashk, the head of the Palestinian Broadcasting Corporation, rejects the Israeli accusation. He says the programs are not incitement to violence, but simply a reflection of the mood of Palestinians who, he says, feel besieged by more than 15 months of Israeli military blockades against their areas.