Israel piles pressure on Arafat

  • From: "Muslim News" <editor_@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <submit@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sun, 22 Sep 2002 10:02:13 +0100

 Israel equipment destroyed building in Ramallah compound
Israeli machinery has set to work at the compound

The Israeli army has pulled down a building next to Palestinian leader
Yasser Arafat's office in his Ramallah compound after a night of
protests in which four Palestinians were reported killed. 

 Demonstrators in Gaza City
Demonstrators took to the streets in several towns

Mr Arafat has been under siege there for three days, and the latest
action leaves his entire headquarters - except for his office - in

Mr Arafat is refusing to give in to the Israeli Government's demands
that he surrender 50 suspected militants Israel says are hiding in his

Overnight the army flooded Mr Arafat's quarters with searchlights and
demanded on loudspeakers for him to come out. Israeli television said
the idea was to encourage the Palestinian leader to abandon the building
choose exile. 

Palestinians inside the compound say the Israelis have cut power and
water supplies sporadically and have taken down air conditioning units
to make life even more unconfortable. 

Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres has contacted international
leaders to ask them to convince Mr Arafat to send the militants out. 

But he said there was no intention to harm Mr Arafat, Israeli radio

Four dead 

Palestinians came on to the streets in defiance of a curfew in several
West Bank and Gaza towns overnight because of rumours that the army was
planning to blow up his office. 

Four were reported shot dead by Israeli troops. 

Palestinian medical sources said two protesters, including a journalist,
were killed in Ramallah itself. 

The other fatalities reportedly occurred in Nablus and Tulkarem. 

Late on Saturday loudspeaker announcements told people in the
neighbourhood around Mr Arafat's compound to leave the area immediately.

 Aerial photo of Ramallah compound
Israel army plans show the building (shaded red) being targeted

Some people said they have been told to turn off their lights, open
their windows and to expect a "big bang". 

However, so far there have been no explosions. 

Saeb Erekat, a close ally of Mr Arafat, told the BBC that the lives of
those left in the compound were "in real danger". 

"[Israeli Prime Minister Ariel] Sharon will bring the situation to the
point of no return," he said. 

Israel's Deputy Defence Minister Weizman Shiri said that Mr Arafat could
leave the country, but would not be allowed to return. 

"If he decides he wants to get out we'll give him a lift," Mr Shiri told
army radio on Sunday. 

"We'll give him a one-way ticket in a dignified way." 

Arafat 'not a target' 

A senior Israeli commander told Reuters news agency that the army's
mission was to remove everyone from the building. 

"The wanted men among them will be arrested," he said. "Anyone who is
not wanted for questioning will be released." 

  <>         Arafat's
Ramallah compound

*       Known as the Muqataa 

*       Built by the British in the 1920s 

*       Palestinians took control in 1994 year after Oslo peace accords 

*       Largely destroyed by Israeli forces

Click here  <>
for more on Yasser Arafat's compound 

"I hope God will grant me the honour of martyrdom. No one will be handed
over to Israel," said Mr Arafat, according to Ahmed Tibi, an Arab member
of Israel's parliament. 

The latest army action began after suicide bombings in Um al-Fahm and
Tel Aviv earlier in the week. 

A defiant Mr Arafat issued a statement on Saturday calling for an end to

But he added: "We are ready for peace but not for capitulation, and we
will not give up Jerusalem or a grain of our soil which are guaranteed
to us by international law." 

Food and water are also said to be in short supply for an estimated 200
people reported to be sheltering on an upper floor. 

International reaction 

France condemned the siege as "unacceptable" and called for it to be
halted immediately. 

Denmark, the current president of the European Union, said Israel's
actions would neither curb terror nor improve security for its

The Egyptian President, Hosni Mubarak, has called on the United States
to intervene immediately; and Jordan said Israel's actions threatened
the stability of the region. 

The US administration urged Israel not to jeopardise future reforms of
Mr Arafat's Palestinian Authority by its actions. 

Source: BBC online

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