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Radio station forced shut in overnight Israeli raid on Hebron

The raid came as the army carried out a seperate security crackdown in the area, arresting 16 Palestinians in Hebron
Palestinian journalists check the damage after Israeli soldiers stormed the offices of the local Palestinian Al-Khalil radio overnight and handed the station a six-month order to close in Hebron on 21 November 2015 (AFP)

Israeli security forces raided and shut down a Palestinian radio station accused of incitement in the West Bank city of Hebron, the army said on Saturday, in the second such case this month.

The raid came as the army carried out a seperate security crackdown in the area, arresting 16 Palestinians in Hebron overnight, a military spokeswoman said, with residents saying many town entrances and exits were closed on Saturday morning.

Other villages in Hebron, such as Deir Samit, are under complete shutdown, with residents reporting that they are not allowed to leave their houses.

Despite the closures, however, dozens of journalists and activists managed to turn out and protest outside al-Khalil radio station, denouncing the Israeli raid.

Palestinian journalists hold banners and their national flag as they demonstrate outside the offices of the local Palestinian Al-Khalil radio against a raid by Israeli forces overnight (AFP)

Soldiers entered the offices of al-Khalil radio overnight and handed the station a six-month order to close, said Ezz Haddad, its head of programming. The station was offline on Saturday morning.

"Al-Khalil radio station has repeatedly broadcast content which promotes and encourages terror and acts of violence against Israeli civilians and security forces," the army said in a statement.

The station's Facebook page posted pictures of heavily armed Israeli forces arriving at the offices and of alleged damage.

"They took the computers, the communication equipment, everything," Haddad told AFP, denying his station was inciting violence.

Translation: From inside the building of al-Khalil radio station, army ordered it shut for six months

Amjad Shawar, the director of al-Khalil radio, told Palestinian news agency Maan that Israeli forces raided the station, damaged the offices and confiscated equipment.

Al-Khalil radio began broadcasting in November 1999. The station is heavily sponsored by the Palestinian Authority, with the majority of its workforce affiliated to the Fatah party.

A Palestinian press freedoms watchdog, Mada, reported that there have been more than 450 violations of media freedom since the beginning of the year.

With the majority of Palestinian attackers in the recent spate of violence coming from Hebron, the city and its surrounding areas have been at the centre of crackdowns by the Israeli army, which has carried out arrests and a number of highly contested shootings.

On Thursday, two Palestinians from the Hebron area carried out separate attacks in Tel Aviv and the Etzion settlement. Three Israelis, an American and a Palestinian (who may or may not have been the attacker) were all killed in the deadliest day since an 1 October upsurge in violence began. 

The wave of violence, much of which has been focused in and around Hebron, has left 89 dead on the Palestinian side, as well as 15 Israelis, an American and an Eritrean. 

Many of the Palestinians killed have been alleged attackers, while others were shot dead during clashes with Israeli forces.

Earlier this month, Israeli forces raided the offices of al-Hurria radio station, also in Hebron, forcing it to close for six months.

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