RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) -- Israeli troops seized the official Palestinian television and radio broadcasting building and blew it up Saturday in the latest action to pressure Yasser Arafat and the Palestinian Authority.
Hours after the early morning operation in the West Bank town of Ramallah, Palestinian broadcasting services were back on the airwaves.
The Voice of Palestine began broadcasting from a private radio station in Ramallah, while Palestine television used alternative facilities in Ramallah and the Gaza Strip.
The Israeli operation came a day after tanks surrounded Arafat's headquarters in another part of Ramallah, with some moving to within a few yards of the compound gate.
For a second straight day, Palestinian protesters threw stones at the Israeli vehicles, including armored personnel carriers and jeeps, in the streets outside the compound. Israeli troops responded Saturday with tear gas, rubber bullets and stun grenades. One Palestinian was hit in the head with a rubber bullet, witnesses said.
Israel's actions are part of a tough response to a Thursday night attack by a Palestinian gunman who opened fire on Israelis in a banquet hall, killing six and wounding dozens before police fatally shot him.
Before dawn Saturday, about a dozen Israeli tanks surrounded the hilltop broadcasting building, and Israeli soldiers entered the five-story complex. The Palestinians had evacuated the building before the soldiers arrived and there were no confrontations, witnesses said.
After a huge blast inside the building a couple hours later, flames engulfed the top floor and quickly spread to lower floors. By the time the fire was extinguished, the interior was gutted and the exterior blackened.
Parts of the interior collapsed and shattered glass, a satellite dish and other debris littered the parking lot in front.
The Israeli army said it had confiscated equipment before blowing up the building.
"This is a criminal action," said Ahmed Abdel Rahman, the Palestinian cabinet secretary. He called the demolition part of an Israeli effort to destroy the Palestinian Authority.
Voice of Palestine moved into the offices of the private Amwaj station in the center of Ramallah to resume broadcasting a few hours later on an FM frequency.
Israel has frequently accused the Palestinian Authority of using its television and radio facilities to broadcast inflammatory reports and comments that it says fuel the Mideast conflict.
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