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  • Israel Keeps Chokehold on Arafat.

    Israel on Tuesday defied a U.N. Security Council demand to end the six-day siege of Yasser Arafat's devastated West Bank headquarters in Ramallah, and nine Palestinians were killed in a powerful Israeli strike against alleged munitions factories and other targets in Gaza City.

    Israel's siege of Arafat was criticized Tuesday by U.S. President George W. Bush who in recent months has been understanding of Israel's military actions and many Israelis also questioned the operation's wisdom amid signs it might have restored some of the beleaguered Palestinian leader's luster among his own people.

    Sporadic pro-Arafat demonstrations continued Tuesday despite Israel's curfews in the West Bank towns it seized about three months ago in what appears to have been an only partly successful effort to step terror attacks in Israel.

    With the United States abstaining, the Security Council demanded early Tuesday that Israel end its operations, "including the destruction of Palestinian civilian and security infrastructure." The resolution also called on the Palestinian Authority to ensure "those responsible for terrorist acts are brought to justice."

    In Washington, Bush said: "We've got to end the suffering. I thought the actions the Israelis took were not helpful in terms of the establishment and development of the institutions necessary for a Palestinian state to emerge."

    Unmoved, Israeli Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer said that "no resolution, and no person, can take from us our exclusive right to defend our homes, our people."

    Cabinet Secretary Gideon Saar said the siege would continue until some 200 people inside the compound give up, saying many are terrorists who must be put on trial. Apparently hinting at possible use of force, he added: "I'm not convinced it will end in them being given up but it must end with their capture."

    Palestinians took heart from the U.N. resolution, after recent similar efforts were thwarted by a U.S. veto. Arafat released a statement praising it, and Cabinet Minister Saeb Erekat said it should be enforced, "because Israel is the champion of nations undermining Security Council resolutions and not implementing" them.

    The standoff continued during the day, and both sides appeared to be digging in. Telephone lines to the building were cut Tuesday, Palestinians said, leaving Arafat and his aides with only cellular phones to communicate with the outside world. Israel's army denied any knowledge of the phone cutoff.

    Israeli soldiers, tightly ringing Arafat's building with tanks, did not allow any visitors inside, but the military eased restrictions for reporters in the rest of Ramallah, allowing them to enter and leave town.

    Ramallah's Palestinian residents were under curfew for a sixth day, but sporadic demonstrations continued anyway. Several dozen Palestinians scuffled with Israeli soldiers at Manara Square in Ramallah, where earlier this week four pro-Arafat demonstrators were killed in clashes with troops.

    Only two weeks ago, Arafat had absorbed his worst-ever internal setback when the Palestinian legislature forced his Cabinet to resign, reflecting growing popular discontent with government mismanagement and the handling of the two years of violence with Israel.

    Before Thursday when Israeli tanks attacked Arafat's compound in response to two Palestinian suicide bombings that left the bombers and seven other people dead Palestinians were openly discussing limiting Arafat's powers.

    Another sign that this trend was being reversed came when masked gunmen opened fire Tuesday at the house of Nabil Amr, Palestinian security officials said. No one was hurt. Amr is a former Arafat aide turned critic who is a leading voice calling for a prime minister to take over some of Arafat's duties.

    Earlier Tuesday, dozens of Israeli tanks moved deep into Gaza City, exchanging fire with Palestinian gunmen and killing nine people, including six civilians.

    The Israeli military said its forces blew up 13 weapons workshops and the house of a Hamas militant who killed five Israeli teenagers in a shooting rampage in a Jewish settlement in Gaza earlier this year.

    Palestinians said it was the largest Israeli operation in Gaza during two years of fighting, involving about 60 tanks and armored vehicles.

    On both sides there was speculation that the foray was a prelude to a larger operation against Gaza, a stronghold and center of the Islamic militant group Hamas, which Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has hinted at.

    Though almost all of the suicide bombers who killed more than 200 Israelis in the past two years have come from the West Bank, Hamas the largest militant group is based in the fenced-in Gaza Strip, and it is believed that operation orders come from there.

    A senior Israeli security official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Israel was considering expelling Hamas founder and spiritual leader Sheik Ahmed Yassin and the group's main spokesman, Abdel Aziz Rantisi.

    Tensions were also high Tuesday in the West Bank city of Hebron, where thousands of religious Jews were expected to join the several hundred Jewish settlers there for celebrations marking the holiday of Sukkot.

    On Monday, an Israeli man was killed and three of his children, ages 9-18, were wounded in a Palestinian shooting attack on Jews celebrating Sukkot in the city of 130,000 Palestinians.

  • #2
    Israel on Tuesday defied a U.N. Security Council demand to end the six-day siege of Yasser Arafat's devastated West Bank headquarters in Ramallah, and nine Palestinians were killed in a powerful Israeli strike against alleged munitions factories and other targets in Gaza City.

    Israel's siege of Arafat was criticized Tuesday by U.S. President George W. Bush who in recent months has been understanding of Israel's military actions and many Israelis also questioned the operation's wisdom amid signs it might have restored some of the beleaguered Palestinian leader's luster among his own people.

    Sporadic pro-Arafat demonstrations continued Tuesday despite Israel's curfews in the West Bank towns it seized about three months ago in what appears to have been an only partly successful effort to step terror attacks in Israel.

    With the United States abstaining, the Security Council demanded early Tuesday that Israel end its operations, "including the destruction of Palestinian civilian and security infrastructure." The resolution also called on the Palestinian Authority to ensure "those responsible for terrorist acts are brought to justice."

    In Washington, Bush said: "We've got to end the suffering. I thought the actions the Israelis took were not helpful in terms of the establishment and development of the institutions necessary for a Palestinian state to emerge."

    Unmoved, Israeli Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer said that "no resolution, and no person, can take from us our exclusive right to defend our homes, our people."

    Cabinet Secretary Gideon Saar said the siege would continue until some 200 people inside the compound give up, saying many are terrorists who must be put on trial. Apparently hinting at possible use of force, he added: "I'm not convinced it will end in them being given up but it must end with their capture."

    Palestinians took heart from the U.N. resolution, after recent similar efforts were thwarted by a U.S. veto. Arafat released a statement praising it, and Cabinet Minister Saeb Erekat said it should be enforced, "because Israel is the champion of nations undermining Security Council resolutions and not implementing" them.

    The standoff continued during the day, and both sides appeared to be digging in. Telephone lines to the building were cut Tuesday, Palestinians said, leaving Arafat and his aides with only cellular phones to communicate with the outside world. Israel's army denied any knowledge of the phone cutoff.

    Israeli soldiers, tightly ringing Arafat's building with tanks, did not allow any visitors inside, but the military eased restrictions for reporters in the rest of Ramallah, allowing them to enter and leave town.

    Ramallah's Palestinian residents were under curfew for a sixth day, but sporadic demonstrations continued anyway. Several dozen Palestinians scuffled with Israeli soldiers at Manara Square in Ramallah, where earlier this week four pro-Arafat demonstrators were killed in clashes with troops.

    Only two weeks ago, Arafat had absorbed his worst-ever internal setback when the Palestinian legislature forced his Cabinet to resign, reflecting growing popular discontent with government mismanagement and the handling of the two years of violence with Israel.

    Before Thursday when Israeli tanks attacked Arafat's compound in response to two Palestinian suicide bombings that left the bombers and seven other people dead Palestinians were openly discussing limiting Arafat's powers.

    Another sign that this trend was being reversed came when masked gunmen opened fire Tuesday at the house of Nabil Amr, Palestinian security officials said. No one was hurt. Amr is a former Arafat aide turned critic who is a leading voice calling for a prime minister to take over some of Arafat's duties.

    Earlier Tuesday, dozens of Israeli tanks moved deep into Gaza City, exchanging fire with Palestinian gunmen and killing nine people, including six civilians.

    The Israeli military said its forces blew up 13 weapons workshops and the house of a Hamas militant who killed five Israeli teenagers in a shooting rampage in a Jewish settlement in Gaza earlier this year.

    Palestinians said it was the largest Israeli operation in Gaza during two years of fighting, involving about 60 tanks and armored vehicles.

    On both sides there was speculation that the foray was a prelude to a larger operation against Gaza, a stronghold and center of the Islamic militant group Hamas, which Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has hinted at.

    Though almost all of the suicide bombers who killed more than 200 Israelis in the past two years have come from the West Bank, Hamas the largest militant group is based in the fenced-in Gaza Strip, and it is believed that operation orders come from there.

    A senior Israeli security official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Israel was considering expelling Hamas founder and spiritual leader Sheik Ahmed Yassin and the group's main spokesman, Abdel Aziz Rantisi.

    Tensions were also high Tuesday in the West Bank city of Hebron, where thousands of religious Jews were expected to join the several hundred Jewish settlers there for celebrations marking the holiday of Sukkot.

    On Monday, an Israeli man was killed and three of his children, ages 9-18, were wounded in a Palestinian shooting attack on Jews celebrating Sukkot in the city of 130,000 Palestinians.

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