Israeli army fired tear gas shells on journalists

  • From: "Muslim News" <editor@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <submit@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Fri, 5 Apr 2002 22:20:50 +0100

Ramallah: Israeli army fired tear gas shells to disperse the journalists
gathered at the compound of the Arafat’s head quarter to cover the
meeting of Palestinian president Yasir Arafat and US General zein
Anthony, said sources on Friday. 

Israel struggles in Nablus, Bethlehem 

NABLUS: Israel struggled on Thursday to consolidate its hold on the
northern West Bank city of Nablus while pressing its siege of
Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity seeking to flush out Palestinian
gunmen as the Middle East violence claimed another eight lives. 

Heavy fighting raged on Thursday in Nablus as Israeli forces met stiff
resistance in the city. Only Hebron in the south and Jericho in the east
remained untouched by the blitz launched last Friday. However, late on
Thursday, a number of Israeli tanks were on the move near the city of
Hebron, although they had not entered Palestinian territory. Security
officials said that six tanks and armoured vehicles had deployed to the
south of the city and eight to the north, while helicopters were firing
illumination flares over the city. Earlier in the day, an Israeli border
guard officer was killed in a Hebron raid on the home of a suspected
Palestinian militant whom they were trying to capture or kill. As Israel
continued its drive, an army spokesman said some 1,100 Palestinians had
been arrested in recent days. Palestinian sources said that this
included about 10 senior security officials. 

Four Palestinians were killed on Thursday in Nablus, including a
54-year-old woman who died in her home after a large blast shook the Old
City, security sources said. At least four Palestinians were reported
wounded. More than 100 Israeli tanks, backed by helicopter gunships, had
blasted their way late on Wednesday into Nablus. 

In Bethlehem, Israeli forces pressed their siege of hundreds of
Palestinians at the Church of the Nativity for a second day, looking to
arrest dozens of Palestinian gunmen among them. A janitor employed at
the church was shot dead by Israeli forces as he was walking to work,
bringing to 11 the number of Palestinians killed since the Israelis
rumbled into Bethlehem early on Tuesday. 

Confusion erupted after three explosions and rounds of gunfire were
heard, and Palestinian sources said that the Israelis had blown away a
door leading to the grounds of one of Christianity's holiest sites.
Besides, Bethlehem Mayor Hanna Nasser also said that the Israeli troops
attacked the gate leading to the internal courtyard of the Church of the
Nativity and at the gates of the Church and at the gates of the cave
where Christians believe Jesus Christ was born. But the Israelis denied
the report and said their forces had opened fire while pursuing a group
of armed Palestinians fleeing the church, which marks the spot where
Jesus Christ was born. "We're not going into the church," government
spokesman Raanan Gissin told CNN. "We're not going to harm the church or
any of its property." 

The Israelis have also taken over the towns of Tulkarem, Qalqilya and
Jenin in the northern West Bank. Two Israeli soldiers were reported
killed and eight wounded in fighting in the Jenin refugee camp,
according to reports compiled from Palestinian and Israeli sources. 

Israeli army spokesman Gen Ron Kitrey said 1,100 Palestinians had been
taken into custody on the West Bank. A Palestinian security official
said 10 of the Palestinians seized in the Israeli sweep were
high-ranking officers of the police or intelligence service. 

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said on Thursday that his cabinet
had decided to keep Arafat "isolated" in his besieged Ramallah
headquarters. Sharon dismissed international calls to lift the siege on
Arafat, who has been pinned down at his West Bank headquarters in
Ramallah since the Israeli army blitz began last Friday. "He will stay
where he is. The target of the operation is to uproot terrorist activity
in areas under Palestinian control. Only when this is achieved will
peace be discussed," Sharon told reporters. Sharon authorised US special
envoy Anthony Zinni to see the besieged Palestinian leader Yasser
Arafat, an Israeli official said. However, a high-level European Union
delegation left Israel empty-handed after Israel refused to allow them
to meet Arafat. 

Source:  The News

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