RAMALLAH, West Bank – Israel continued its response to a gunman's attack that killed six Thursday by taking over and blowing up Palestine's television and radio facilities Saturday.
The broadcasts weren't quieted for long, however, as airwaves were restored just hours after the early morning blast in the West Bank town of Ramallah.
Palestine television used other facilities in Ramallah and the Gaza Strip, and The Voice of Palestine began broadcasting from a private radio station in Ramallah.
Israel's retaliation is just the latest step in an ongoing campaign to pressure Yasser Arafat and the Palestinian Authority to thwart terrorism.
The destruction of the broadcast building took place only a day after Israeli tanks surrounded Arafat's compound in another part of Ramallah — some inching within mere yards of the gates.
In the streets outside their leader's headquarters, Palestinian protesters threw stones at the Israeli vehicles, including armored personnel carriers and jeeps, for the second consecutive day.
The protesters were met with tear gas, rubber bullets and stun grenades from the Israeli troops Saturday. One Palestinian was hit in the head with a rubber bullet, witnesses said.
Israel's firm retaliation was sparked by a Thursday night attack by a Palestinian gunman who opened fire on Israelis celebrating a bat mitzvah, 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, rather than the usual AM bandwidth, said Radwan Abu Ayyash, the head of Palestinian Broadcasting Corp.
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.
Palestinian Broadcasting says it captures the mood among Palestinians, who feel besieged by Israel's military. "We are a mirror reflecting what the Israelis are doing here against the Palestinians," said Abu Ayyash.
Israel has bombed Palestinian broadcasting offices before, knocking broadcasts off the air temporarily. But Saturday's operation was much larger in scope, destroying the building that housed the administrative offices as well as radio and television studios for the Palestinian Broadcasting Corp.
The Palestinians still have a number of small, private television and radio stations that operate in the West Bank and Gaza.
While Israeli forces surrounded Arafat's compound, warplanes destroyed a Palestinian Authority government complex in the West Bank town of Tulkarem on Friday, killing a Palestinian policeman and injuring 61 officers and civilians.
"This is just to indicate to Arafat that he's got to get busy very soon in fighting terrorists," said Raanan Gissin, an adviser to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.
The gunman in Thursday's attack was a former Palestinian Authority policeman and a member of the Al Aqsa Brigades, a militia linked to Arafat's Fatah movement.
The Al Aqsa Brigade said the attack was in retaliation for the death of their leader Raed Karmi, killed in an explosion last Monday that was blamed on Israel.
Israeli forces have confined Arafat to Ramallah for the past several weeks, saying that he can only leave once he arrests the killers of Israeli Tourism Minister Rehavam Zeevi and turns them over to Israel.
Three tanks remained a few yards from the entrance to the headquarters Saturday. Israeli bulldozers also piled earth across one of the four access roads to Arafat's compound, blocking it to traffic. Nearly two dozen tanks took up positions in about half of Ramallah, and troops searched the home of the Palestinian intelligence chief, Tawfik Tirawi.
On Friday, about 4,000 Palestinians marched toward Arafat's office to protest the Israeli incursions and demand the release of suspected Palestinian militants held by the Palestinian Authority, including Ahmed Saadat, a senior PLO official whose faction killed Israeli Tourism Minister Rehavam Zeevi in October.
About 200 marchers broke away and threw stones at Israeli tanks. Troops fired tear gas, rubber-coated steel bullets and live rounds. Later on Friday, about 400 Palestinians tried to storm Arafat's compound, pelting the entrance with rocks, sticks and bottles.
The protests and the Israeli actions highlighted Arafat's dilemma. If he dismantles militant groups, as demanded by Israel and the United States, he risks Palestinian unrest. If he does not act, Israel will likely step up its pressure.
Since announcing a truce Dec. 16, Arafat's security forces have arrested some militants, triggering clashes with the suspects' supporters. Israel has said the arrests were merely cosmetic and that the detained militants were often not being held.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.