Israel Demolishes Arafat Compound in Gaza; Palestinian Shot Dead After Attacking Gaza Strip Settlement
Israeli helicopters completely demolished the compound of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat during a raid on Gaza City, a Palestinian security source said. The Israeli navy also participated in the early Sunday attack which was described as “unprecedented.”
At least 35 missiles fired by the attack helicopters hit the compound, causing the walls to collapse. The source said Arafat's compound went up in flames during the sustained missile and rocket attack. The helicopters also hit surrounding areas. At least 24 people were wounded in the strike, witnesses and medical sources said.
Palestinian security officials said the missiles hit three checkpoints of the Force 17 presidential guard surrounding Arafat's office, a nearby building that houses several branches of the Palestinian security services, and Arafat's helicopter launchpad.
The building, located next to the Gaza beach, was empty, witnesses said. Officials evacuated it Saturday, after Israeli helicopters started firing machine guns at it.
The destroyed offices of Arafat were used in the past to host world leaders, including former US president Bill Clinton, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and French President Jacques Chirac. "I do not believe what has happened. All of our documents have been destroyed," the security official said, adding that Palestinian officials had not expected a direct assault on the compound.
Meanwhile, the Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's kitchen cabinet, consisting of Sharon, Defense Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer and Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, are due to convene Sunday morning after 13 Israelis were killed Saturday night and over 100 injured in two separate attacks. Following the meeting, Sharon will convene the diplomatic-security cabinet to decide on Israel's response to the attacks.
In the meantime, a Palestinian gunman disguised as a worker opened fire at the settlement of Netzarim in the Gaza Strip on Sunday morning, injuring one soldier, after which he stabbed and wounded an additional one. The Israeli soldier who was shot sustained serious injuries, while the second one was moderately wounded.
The Palestinian was shot and killed by an Israeli force which arrived at the scene of the attack (Albawaba.com)
© 2002 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
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