Israeli tanks and troops have entered and shelled the compound of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in the West Bank city of Ramallah. Two Palestinian guards are reported to have been injured in an exchange of gunfire with the Israelis. The latest action comes in response to a suicide bombing in Tel Aviv, which killed at least six people and injured about 60 others.
Israeli troops, tanks and armored personnel carriers closed in on Mr. Arafat's compound in central Ramallah Thursday evening. Some Israeli forces entered the compound, and surrounded the headquarters of the Palestinian leader. It's believed that Mr. Arafat remains inside.
The action came hours after a Palestinian suicide bomber blew himself up on a crowded bus in central Tel Aviv.
Israel's defense minister, Binyamin Ben Eliezer, called a meeting of army commanders to discuss a response. Later in the day, the full Israeli Cabinet was called to a meeting with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to discuss the situation.
Israeli officials blamed Mr. Arafat and the Palestinian Authority for Thursday's suicide bombing, saying he had done nothing to rein in militant groups. The Palestinian Authority issued a statement condemning the bomb attack and calling for urgent talks between Israeli and Palestinian leaders.
Thursday's suicide bombing was the second in two days. On Wednesday, a Palestinian suicide bomber blew himself up in northern Israel, killing himself and an Israeli policeman. That attack shattered a six-week lull in suicide bomb attacks in Israel.
Israeli forces have blocked off, imposed curfews and effectively re-occupied most Palestinian population centers since June in an effort to deter attacks by Palestinian militants.
In other violence Thursday, a 12-year old Palestinian boy was killed in Ramallah, when he broke the Israeli curfew to go out and buy cigarettes for his father. Witnesses said he was shot by Israeli soldiers.