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Israeli Tanks Fire on West Bank Police - Palestinians - 2001-08-13


Palestinians say Israeli tanks rolled into the Palestinian-controlled town of Jenin in the West Bank early Tuesday, and opened fire on the main police station. The Israeli military had no immediate comment on the reports and there was no word on casualties.

On Monday, Palestinians staged a general strike to protest Israel's seizure of their headquarters in East Jerusalem.

Businesses throughout Palestinian areas were closed for a one-day strike protesting Israel's take over of Orient House, the highly symbolic headquarters of the Palestine Liberation Organization in East Jerusalem.

Most stores, businesses, banks, and restaurants in the West Bank and Gaza Strip kept their doors padlocked in response to calls from Palestinian leaders to observe the strike.

Israel took over Orient House, and other Palestinian buildings in and around East Jerusalem, in retaliation for a suicide bombing that killed 16 people last week in a Jerusalem restaurant.

An attorney representing Orient House, Jawad Bulos, says the Palestinians may launch a legal appeal in an effort to end the Israeli closure of the facility. "Just to use it in order to prove to the whole world and to the Israelis that the claims used by the orders are so false, so cheap, so unreal and the issue is wholly backed by political motivations," he said.

Another suicide bomber attacked a café Sunday near the northern coastal city of Haifa. Only the bomber was killed in that attack.

A spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Dore Gold, says the recent attacks would not have occurred if Palestinian President Yasser Arafat had ordered the arrest of Islamic militants in the West Bank. "There is no question, but that the bombings both in Jerusalem and outside of Haifa could have been averted had Yasser Arafat acted upon the names that he was given in accordance with the cease-fire understandings," said Mr. Gold, "but Yasser Arafat refused to arrest the controllers of these terrorist operations, either in Jenin or in Ramallah, and as a result, the bombings occurred."

In the West Bank town of Hebron, mourners buried a young girl that witnesses say was killed by Israeli army fire during an overnight battle with Palestinian gunmen.

Senior U.S. Envoy David Satterfield is continuing talks with Israeli and Palestinian leaders. He told Mr. Sharon the seizure of Orient House represents a political escalation of an already tense situation.

Mr. Satterfield is trying to gain support for a U.S. mediated cease-fire that has failed to end more than 10 months of violence.