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Demonstrators March in Beirut in Support of Arafat - 2002-09-27

Several thousand people marched Friday afternoon in a demonstration in Beirut's southern suburbs in support of the besieged Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

The demonstrators shouted "death to America, death to Israel" as they marched through the streets.

Organizers from the pro-Iranian Shi'ite Hezbollah guerilla group called the event "a victory march." Hezbollah is on the State Department's list of terrorist organizations.

The demonstration coincided with the second anniversary of the outbreak of the most recent Palestinian Intifadah, or "uprising," and with Israel's continuing siege of Yasser Arafat's compound in Ramallah.

Several hundred boy scouts beat drums, as loudspeakers broadcast slogans like "Hezbollah is coming to liberate Jerusalem," and "Mohammed's army is on it's way."

Hezbollah's leader, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, told the crowd, "the continuation of the Intifadah is a great victory."

Sheikh Nasrallah said Palestinian fighters have carried out 1,400 attacks during the last two years.

The Hezbollah group, which receives support from both Iran and Syria, enjoys a certain prestige in the Arab world because Israel withdrew from Southern Lebanon in June of 2000 after 22 years of Hezbollah resistance.

Israel has frequently accused Hezbollah of providing support for the Palestinian uprising.