Israeli soldiers blew up three buildings in Yasser Arafat's compound Friday, rocking the office where he was holed up. According to the Qatari-based Al Jazeera television network, just two buildings remain standing in the compound: the old administrative building, in which Arafat has his private office, and the new administrative building. Israeli snipers also killed an Arafat bodyguard.
Earlier, the Israeli army arrested some 20 Palestinians from Arafat's compound, but not those wanted from inside his offices, Palestinian security sources said. They said prisoners held by Palestinian security forces were among those arrested, along with their guards, whose prefab lodgings were destroyed as Israeli tanks and bulldozers rolled into Arafat's compound.
"Israel is engaged in a long and hard battle against a cruel and abject terrorism led by Palestinian Authority chairman Yasser Arafat who has set up a terrorist coalition," Sharon's office charged in a statement.
Nabil Abu Rudeineh, a senior Arafat aide, said Israel was targeting Arafat himself and called for international intervention to stop the incursion. "Arafat is fine, but the situation in the compound is very dangerous," he said. Abu Rudeineh added that Arafat did not receive a formal request for the surrender of Palestinians wanted by Israel, and said that no wanted Palestinians were hiding in the compound.
Palestinian officials said the United States had stepped in, urging them to hand over 19 men on Israel's wanted list. Also, U.S. officials suggested that the Palestinians appoint delegates to negotiate with the Israelis about defusing the situation, the Palestinian officials said.
Washington cautioned Israel not to go to far with its response. "Significant, quiet progress had been made behind the scenes in the Palestinian Authority and there had been a sustained period of quiet without homicide bombings in Israel," White House press secretary Ari Fleischer said Friday.
Soldiers with loudspeakers called on wanted Palestinians inside Arafat's compound to surrender, naming Tawfik Tirawi, commander of Palestinian intelligence, an Israeli official said.
Elsewhere, near the town of Rafah, on the Egyptian border, two Israeli soldiers were hurt, one moderately and one lightly when an explosion went off near their armored personnel carrier, the army said. Soldiers trying to salvage the vehicle were attacked by stone-throwers and responded with gunfire, killing a 15-year-old boy and wounding nine other people, hospital officials said.
Israeli troops killed two Palestinians during overnight incursions into the Gaza Strip, hospital sources said. The victims were named as Ahmed Loubad, 35, and Samira Doukhdar, a 25-year-old woman. Both were killed by Israeli fire in Tufah, in the north of Gaza, the Palestinian hospital sources said, according to AFP.
During the Israeli incursions in the Gaza Strip, troops dynamited four metal workshops in the Tufah area, according to Palestinian security cources.
The army also moved into Al-Shujayiah district on the eastern edge of Gaza City, while to the north, forces later moved around two kilometres into Palestinian land toward the towns of Beit Lahiya and Beit Hanun, Palestinian security forces said.
In Al-Shujayiah, two Palestinians were injured by Israeli helicopter fire. Three Israeli soldiers were injured when a bomb exploded in front of their tank in Beit Hanun, according to Israeli military sources. (Albawaba.com)
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