Tags: Israel | Attacks | Arafat's | Gaza

Israel Attacks Arafat's Gaza HQ

Tuesday, 19 February 2002 12:00 AM

The attacks were part of a predawn raid by an Israeli commando unit on Arafat's seaside headquarters, Palestinian security sources said. At least five members of Arafat's elite Force 17 were killed.

The witnesses said Israeli naval boats fired several shells at Arafat's headquarters. Israeli helicopters flew over the headquarters and fired heavily at the rooms. Force 17 arrived at the scene and fired back. The naval boats tried to dispatch troops into the headquarters, called Al Muntada.

Several explosions and bullets were heard in the western neighborhood of Remal in Gaza City, witnesses said. Ambulances arrived at the scene and took the dead along with at least 10 other Force 17 officers who were injured during the attack.

Palestinian security officials said they were afraid the Israeli army might try to occupy Gaza City's western neighborhoods and seize Arafat's headquarters.

The attack came after an especially violent day that saw six Israeli soldiers and 10 Palestinians, including a suicide bomber, killed.

The attack was the latest Israeli retaliatory assault on a day that saw a series of attacks by Palestinians, most of them by suicide bombers. In the violence from both sides, at least 15 people have been killed, Israeli and Palestinian sources said Tuesday.

Six Israeli soldiers were killed and two wounded Tuesday when gunmen attacked a military roadblock and the soldiers' caravan near the village of Ein Arik, west of Ramallah in the West Bank, a well-placed source said.

The incident was in an area where Israel was responsible for security and the Palestinians for civilian affairs. The army defined the road there as "a black road," closed to Israeli civilians.

Details of the incident were unclear, but apparently the gunmen killed or seriously injured the soldiers manning the roadblock, then entered the caravan and killed the others. The soldiers moved there earlier in the day so they were new to the area, the source said.

Military sources confirmed the six deaths but would identify them only as "Israelis." The army refrains from announcing military deaths pending notification of the next of kin.

The wave of Palestinian suicide bombings continued Tuesday when a man who tried to board a civilian bus in the Jordan Valley was pushed out and then blew himself up, the bus driver and an eyewitness said.

Bus driver Shalom Dryi told Israel's Channel 1 TV, "I pushed him down" from the bus's second step, and "he put his right hand into his pocket and apparently tried to detonate the explosive device."

"I tried to pull [his hand] and shouted, 'It's a terrorist,'" said Dryi.

The suicide bombing occurred Tuesday evening near the settlement of Mehola in the Jordan Valley. The militant tried to board the bus traveling from Jerusalem to Tiberias.

Tamar, 22, a passenger who was identified only by her first name, told Israel Radio the driver pushed and kicked the militant and shouted "Go, go."

The militant ran into a field and as the bus pulled away he blew himself up. No Israeli was hurt as the bus was bulletproof.

In other violence Tuesday, two Israelis were shot and injured in the West Bank.

Nine Palestinians were killed in Israeli retaliatory attacks after suicide bombers killed six Israelis and themselves.

The Israeli dead included two teenagers killed Saturday night in a pizzeria in a West Bank settlement. On Sunday, two suicide bombers were killed in a police chase inside Israel. In the central Gaza Strip Monday, a man shot and killed three Israelis before he was killed, and a Palestinian killed an Israeli-Bedouin police officer and himself with a bomb on the road to Jerusalem.

By Tuesday, Israeli military forces sectioned the Gaza Strip into three areas and attacked the headquarters of the militant Hamas group in the Jabalya refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip.

Two Palestinians were killed in the attack on Hamas.

Palestinian Authority security installations in Gaza and the West Bank were also hit.

Israeli troops also killed two armed Palestinians and wounded five others during a gunfight early Tuesday in the Balata refugee camp when soldiers tried to enter the West Bank camp. Palestinian radio also reported a Palestinian was shot dead on Tuesday morning by Israeli troops in the southern Gaza Strip. The army spokesman said he opened fire at soldiers at the Katif junction and was killed.

In addition to Monday's two suicide bombers, two Palestinians were seen trying to infiltrate the Jewish settlement of Morag in the southern Gaza Strip. One man was killed but the other escaped.

Israeli troops raided a neighborhood looking for the suspects and three people were killed in tank shelling associated with the operation. The Israel Defense Forces spokesman said the incident was being checked.

IDF personnel moved to expand the corridor that links Israel with the Gush Katif settlement by razing buildings. The army spokesman said several "unpopulated structures" were destroyed. They were said to provide cover for the militant who approached the road to Gush Katif and killed the three Israelis Monday.

An Israel Radio reporter at the scene said five houses were destroyed and residents were ordered to leave others.

Israeli-Arab Knesset member Mohamad Baraky, a human rights group and four residents appealed to the High Court of Justice in Jerusalem and obtained a restraining order to stop further demolitions. The court is to hear the appeal Thursday and demolitions have stopped until then. Copyright 2002 by United Press International.

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The attacks were part of a predawn raid by an Israeli commando unit on Arafat's seaside headquarters, Palestinian security sources said. At least five members of Arafat's elite Force 17 were killed. The witnesses said Israeli naval boats fired several shells at Arafat's...
Tuesday, 19 February 2002 12:00 AM
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