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No Reports of Injuries from Israeli Attack in Ramallah - 2001-09-08


Israeli helicopters on Saturday attacked the offices of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement in Ramallah, in the West Bank. Israel continues to link the Fatah group to terrorist actions against Israelis. So far there are no reports of injuries.

Palestinians say three missiles hit the security offices of Fatah as two Israeli helicopters passed overhead. The building was badly damaged.

Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti has accused Israel of trying to hit top Fatah officials who had been meeting in the building just before the attack.

Israel's army says the missile strike was in retaliation for Palestinian attacks on Israelis, including the shooting death of an Israeli soldier on Thursday.

The Palestinian militia group, known as the Al Aksa Brigades, claimed responsibility for killing the soldier. They said the attack was in retaliation for Israel's attempt to kill militia leader Raed Karmi. Mr. Karmi escaped with light injuries, but two other passengers in the car were killed. He later warned a news agency of a revenge attack.

The continuing tit-for-tat violence has overshadowed efforts to arrange a meeting between Israel's Foreign Minister Shimon Peres and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat to talk about a truce. They are expected to meet sometime next week.

Earlier in the day Saturday, Palestinians at a funeral in the Gaza Strip threatened revenge attacks against Israelis in Tel Aviv. They were mourning the death of a 24-year-old Fatah activist who was killed in a bomb blast.

Israel says he died when bombs went off prematurely in his hideout, but Palestinian militants blame Israel for his death.

The violence, which erupted in earnest nearly a year ago this month, has claimed more than 700 victims, most of them Palestinians.

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