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Israeli Army Destroys Most Buildings in Arafat HQ Compound - 2002-09-21

The Israeli Army has destroyed most of the buildings at the Palestinian Authority headquarters in the West Bank city of Ramallah. It appears only Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's office remains standing, after two days of demolitions.

The Israeli army has destroyed four of the main blocks in the Ramallah compound, which had been used as offices and living quarters for Palestinian security forces. Soldiers also demolished several mobile homes at the site.

The army began its siege following a Palestinian suicide bus bombing in Tel Aviv Thursday, which killed at least six people and wounded 50 others.

Five loud blasts were heard Saturday as troops flattened buildings around Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's offices with explosives, tanks and bulldozers. Mr. Arafat, a few aides and about 20 men wanted by Israel were pinned to a few rooms in a wing of the main office building, the only structure left standing in the once sprawling complex.

Bulldozers dug a deep trench and troops ran coils of barbed wire around the main building.

Mr. Arafat was reported to be covered in dust from the bombardment, but otherwise unhurt. He was confined to his quarters in the second floor, after Israeli troops destroyed the stairway to the ground-floor with a tank shell, Palestinian witnesses said. Soldiers also demolished a second-floor walkway between the two wings of the building, cutting Mr. Arafat off from his guards in the other section.

Palestinian officials have appealed to the United Nations Security Council to call on Israel to withdraw its forces.

The White House has called on the Palestinian leadership to halt terror attacks and for Israel to carefully consider the consequences of its military actions.