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>Israel Faxx
>JN Oct. 13, 2000, Vol. 8, No. 176

Israel Rockets Arafat's Compound

Israel Faxx Staff Report

Palestinian chief Yasir Arafat's seaside residential compound in Gaza City was rocketed Thursday by Israeli helicopters in retaliation for the murder of three Israeli soldiers by a Palestinian lynch mob in the West Bank town of Ramallah. Arafat reportedly was inside the compound when one rocket struck 150 feet away.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak said Arafat himself was never a target in the helicopter attacks.

A smiling Arafat emerged and was cheered by hundreds of Palestinians. He then went to the Gaza sites hit by the rockets. Arafat told reporters, "Our people don't care, and don't hesitate to continue their march to Jerusalem, their capital of the independent Palestinian state."

A senior Palestinian official, Saeb Erakat, told the Associated Press, "This is a declaration of war - a crazy war." Barak said Arafat "does not appear to be a partner for peace at this time."

The three reservists were traveling in a civilian car when they made a wrong turn and wound up in Ramallah. about 10 miles from Jerusalem. They were chased by Palestinians and asked for shelter in the Ramallah police station. When local Arabs heard about the Israelis, more than 1,000 headed for the police station.

Some Arabs broke through a second-floor window where the Israelis were held. The attackers soon emerged with blood-covered hands as the crowd roared with approval.

AP reported that the body of one Israeli soldier was thrown into the street, and a second was dangled down by a rope, where the corpse was stomped and beaten with iron bars. Both bodies were soaked in blood.

Barak told reporters that Arafat was indirectly responsible for the lynching of the soldiers, and added that Israel would find those involved.

"The brutal lynching in Ramallah is a very grave incident," said Israel's acting foreign minister, Shlomo Ben-Ami. "More than just escalating the explosive situation, the event shows a lack of respect for human life."

Israeli Missiles Hit Ramallah

By Meredith Buel (VOA-Jerusalem)

Israeli combat helicopters fired rockets at targets in the West Bank town of Ramallah after Palestinian demonstrators killed two Israeli soldiers who were in custody there.

Black columns of smoke rose from the city and a Palestinian police station. Israeli army tanks moved into position on the outskirts of the town.

Earlier, an angry mob of Palestinian protestors stormed a police station in Ramallah where Israeli soldiers had been taken into custody. An Israeli Army source said the soldiers had been detained by Palestinian police, and confirmed that two were killed.

When word spread the soldiers had been captured, hundreds of Palestinians surrounded the police station where they were being held. People in the crowd stormed the station, killed the soldiers and threw their bodies from a second-floor window.

The Israeli army source says the soldiers were reservists who strayed into Ramallah by mistake. Palestinians say they were disguised as Arabs and were members of a special undercover unit.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak called the attack "very grave," and canceled all appointments.

Efforts Resume to Free IDF Soldiers Captured by Hizbullah

By Edward Yeranian (VOA-Beirut)

Diplomats intensified efforts Thursday to secure the release of three Israeli soldiers captured by Hizbullah guerrillas Saturday, and defuse the current crisis between Lebanon and Israel.

UN Secretary General Koffi Annan and Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharazi were in Beirut to help negotiate. Kharazi, who arrived from Damascus late Wednesday, said initially that Hizbullah was demanding "the liberation of all prisoners and hostages being held by Israel" in exchange for the three Israeli soldiers taken captive by the Lebanese-based guerrillas.

Iran's foreign minister told journalists that exact terms of the exchange were up to Hizbullah, but that Iran also seeks the release of two Iranian diplomats, a journalist, and their driver, captured in Lebanon in 1982. Meanwhile, Koffi Annan met with Lebanese President Emile Lahoud, repeating UN demands that Beirut deploy its army on the border with Israel to prevent further crisis.

Annan told journalists that Hizbullah's capture of the three Israeli soldiers was a violation of the Blue Line, which separates Lebanon from Israel and was drawn by the UN after Israel withdrew from southern Lebanon last May.
"I have made it clear from the beginning that we will report violations regardless of who violated it. Our information is that the Blue Line, that those who picked up the three soldiers crossed the Blue Line and it is a violation."

The Secretary General added that so far no one has visited the three Israelis, but Hizbullah should allow the International Red Cross or UN personnel to visit them without any conditions.

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