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Israel Attacks Palestinian Security Headquarters - 2002-01-18

Israeli aircraft have attacked a Palestinian security headquarters building in the West bank, killing at least one person and injuring a score of others. Ross Dunn in Jerusalem reports the attack followed just hours after the massacre of six Israeli civilians in a banquet hall Thursday.

Israeli F-16 warplanes fired missiles at the security headquarters in the West Bank town of Tulkarem.

A military spokesman said the raid was in retaliation for the attack in the northern city of Hadera, in which a Palestinian gunman burst into a banquet hall and sprayed bullets around the room with an assault rifle.

Hundreds of Israelis were celebrating a teenage girl's coming-of-age ceremony, a bat mitzvah, at the time of the shooting.

Some guests threw bottles and chairs at the attacker and forced him to the ground, before a police officer shot him dead.

The al-Aqsa Brigades, an armed militia of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's Fatah faction, claimed responsibility for the massacre.

Mr Raanan Gissin, a spokesman for the Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, held Mr. Arafat directly responsible for the violence, saying he had failed to rein in armed Palestinian factions. "Arafat has full control. He just doesn't want to act. It is very clear. Whenever he wanted to exercise control he achieved that. So the responsibility for what happened here lies directly on his shoulders," he said.

Following the attack in Hadera, Israeli troops also sent reinforcements into the West Bank town of Ramallah, which took up positions overlooking Mr. Arafat's headquarters and in other parts of the city.

Mr. Arafat has been prevented by Israeli troops from leaving Ramallah since early December.