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Israel Attacks Press Freedom in West Bank

Massive IOF Invasions, Attacks on Freedom of Press in West Bank Cities

RAMALLAH, Palestine - - Dozens of Israeli military vehicles and troops invaded evening today several major cities in the West Bank and their surrounding towns and villages, imposing tight curfews and isolating them completely.

Nearly 40 military vehicles loaded with IOF troops overrun the city of the Ramallah and the nearby town of El Bireh, and imposed tight curfew on both of them. Several Palestinian citizens were stranded in some areas, unable to leave their positions, as the Israeli soldiers opened fire at any moving thing, IPC correspondent said.

Meanwhile, IOF broke into several news agencies and TV channels' offices in the city, and prevented their journalists and camera crews from leaving or moving around the city. The Al Jazeera satellite channel was banned from leaving their office in Ramallah City by the occupying soldiers, who occupied the building their office is in, and took positions on its rooftop, Al Jazeera satellite channel reported.

In addition, heavy gunfire and explosions rocked the downtown area of the city, as citizens fled for their life and hid in any place they could find. Several Palestinians were besieged inside the city's main mosque and were not allowed to leave it.

Other than the city of Ramallah, IOF invaded the town of Beirzeit and the village of Kofr Malek in Ramallah governorate, as well as the villages of Anabta and Kofr Labad in Tulkarem governorate.

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Israeli military officials claimed that the Israeli invasion included only a few blocks in the city, and was aimed at cracking down on "terrorist cells". No proof for the officials' claims was presented.

Earlier in Ramallah governorate, IOF troops severely beaten and abused a journalist and threatened him of death.

The IOF troops manning the "Beit El" checkpoint stopped a car for the reporter of ANN satellite channel, Mohammed Al Sayyed, and forced him to step out of it, then they searched the car, trashed it and confiscated some photos and documents inside it. Afterwards, the soldiers ordered Al Sayyed to escort them to the nearby military checkpoint, but he refused, when the soldiers started assaulting him with their rifles butts. They took him to a nearby checkpoint, but later he was released, and was threatened to be killed if he entered Ramallah again, according to his affidavit.

Al Sayyed suffered multiple bruises and injuries all over his body, medical sources in Ramallah city mentioned.

Meanwhile, in the town of Deir El Balah, middle of the Gaza Strip, IOF troops stormed a Palestinian house and arrested a girl there.

Eyewitnesses said that an Israeli occupying force surrounded the house of Abu Thaher family, near the "Kesufim" colonial road, stormed it and arrested a 20-year old girl. The soldiers then took her into an undisclosed location, WAFA reported.

The Israeli military command called in, two days ago, five battalions of Israeli reserve soldiers, in addition to mobilizing several columns of tanks and armored vehicles north of the Gaza Strip and in the Khan Younis governorate, south of the Strip.

These actions come consequent with the Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's speech in front of the Knesset, in which he pledged to "remove" Palestinian President Yasser Arafat, a step that has faced international objection and criticism of the Israeli government.

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