Rockets blast Arafat offices : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Tuesday, 31 October, 2000, 01:54 GMT Rockets blast Arafat offices

Israeli helicopter gunships have fired rockets at offices of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement in several locations in the West Bank and Gaza. The assault is reported to be the heaviest since rocket attacks first brought an escalation of the conflict earlier in October, though there are no reports of casualties.

The BBC's Hilary Andersson says that the conflict seems to be entering a new stage in which Israel is prepared to unleash heavy weapons on a daily basis.

Targets were hit in the West Bank towns of Nablus and Ramallah, as was a building used by Mr Arafat's Force 17 militia in Khan Yunis, Gaza.

Israeli Deputy Defence Minister Ephraim Sneh said the attacks were intended as a warning for Palestinians "since (they) are beginning to wage something that approximates a guerrilla war".

Over the weekend had Fatah called for an escalation of the Palestinian protests.

Government survives

Earlier on Monday Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak defended his minority government at the first session of the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, since the Palestinian uprising broke out a month ago.

In a bad-tempered opening debate, Mr Barak told deputies that peace with the Palestinians was still possible but he had no partner "who is ready for compromise at this time".

Mr Barak has failed to form a coalition with the right-wing opposition Likud party, but his government is expected to survive for a month thanks to temporary support from the ultra-Orthodox Shas in the light of the current "national emergency".

Mr Barak currently controls a 30-member coalition in the 120-seat Knesset, far less than the broad-based 68-member majority he built after his landslide election victory in May 1999.


Responding to the prime minister's speech, Likud leader Ariel Sharon criticised Mr Barak for making Israel "appear weak" by continuing to seek peace through the so-called Oslo peace-process.

Barak's coalition collapsed over his peace position He said he would join Mr Barak's coalition if he the prime minister abandoned this "mistaken path".

Mr Barak said a window of opportunity was closing for his government's peace negotiations.

He addressed some remarks directly to Yasser Arafat, the Palestinian leader: "You should know you will achieve nothing through violence.

"You will find us united against violence," he continued.

Both party leaders were heckled repeatedly during their speeches. Some Arab deputies walked out during Mr Barak's in protest against the killing of more than a dozen Israeli Arab citizens in the uprising.

In all about 150 people have been killed in clashes between Palestinian protesters and militiamen and the Israeli army. Fewer than 10 of them have been Israeli Jews.


Monday saw the first killings of Jews in Israeli-occupied Arab east Jerusalem since the violence began.

A gunman entered an Israeli Government building and shot two armed security guards in the head. One guard died, the second was in a serious condition.

In a separate development, the body of a Jewish man was found near the Gilo Jewish settlement in east Jerusalem. It was riddled with bullet holes and stab wounds, Israeli police said.

-- Martin Thompson (, October 30, 2000

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