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Israel Claims Finding Evidence Against Arafat - 2002-04-03

Israel says it has found evidence to prove that Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's headquarters in the West Bank town of Ramallah had acted as a "center for controlling and supporting terrorism."

A statement issued by the Israeli Defence Forces says that it uncovered documents and weapons that amount to damning evidence against Mr. Arafat and top officials of the Palestinian Authority.

The material was uncovered during searches of Mr. Arafat's Ramallah headquarters.

Some of the documents relate to the activities of Fuad Shoubaki, head of the accounting administration of the Palestinian General Security Service, who has been linked to a weapons ship seized by Israel in January.

Israeli Defense Forces report the ship was coming from Iran and bound for the Gaza Strip.

Mr. Arafat has denied any knowledge of the shipment, but Israel says the evidence suggests otherwise.

Inside Mr. Shoubaki's office building in the Ramallah complex, Israeli forces claim to have found a large amount of weapons, including launchers for rocket-propelled grenads, which it says the Palestinian Authority is "forbidden to possess" under peace agreements with the Jewish state.

The Israel army's statement said counterfeit money and documents belonging to Mr. Shoubaki have also been uncovered.

Mr. Shoubaki was also in charge of financing the the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, a group which has claimed responsibility for several recent suicide bombings.

The statement also says one of the documents is a request from the Al-Aqsa Brigades for money to build five to nine bombs a week.

Palestinian officials say the document is a fabrication and that the counterfeit money was seized by Palestinian police from criminals.