Accessibility links

Israeli Troops Take Up Positions in Ramallah - 2001-12-13


Israeli troops have taken up positions in the center of the West Bank town of Ramallah after Israel cut off its contacts with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

Israeli troops have raided the home of Marwan Barghouti, who heads Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement in the West Bank. Bulldozers have demolished the headquarters of the Palestine Radio and TV.

Israeli tanks have taken up positions in the center of Ramallah and are within firing range of Mr. Arafat's Ramallah headquarters there. Israel is also shelling targets in the Gaza Strip.

Earlier in the day, Israel cut off contacts with Yasser Arafat, calling him irrelevant. Israeli spokesman Dore Gold explains why.

"There's a fundamental norm in any process of international reconciliation or peacemaking and that is you cannot use violence. And unfortunately Arafat has violated that norm," Mr. Gold said.

Israel says it is not targeting Mr. Arafat with its military operations.

But a top Arafat adviser calls the latest actions a declaration of war on the Palestinian people.

Negotiator Saeb Erekat told VOA he fears Israel's re-occupation of Palestinian territories and more bloodshed.

"What we've been witnessing is Palestinians dying and Israelis dying. Bombs here and there. And this is only the tip of the iceberg," Mr. Erekat said.

Foreign diplomats have been calling Israel's foreign ministry for clarification of the latest decisions. Mr. Arafat has been in phone contact with Arab allies to discuss the deteriorating situation.

Israel's latest military incursions come after Palestinian attacks in the West Bank and Gaza on Wednesday and less than two weeks after suicide bombings in Jerusalem and Haifa.

Israel has demanded Mr. Arafat crack down on terrorism and has refused to talk about peace until the violence stops. The Palestinian leader had rounded up some 200 suspects and ordered the closure of Hamas and Islamic Jihad offices. Israel says that is not enough.

Besides its actions in the West Bank, Israeli fighter jets have fired missiles at Mr. Arafat's elite guard and police compounds in Gaza and the airport control tower there. In the Gaza strip troops have set up roadblocks around Jewish settlements.

XS
SM
MD
LG