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Saturday, 8 September, 2001, 15:49 GMT 16:49 UK
Israel rockets Fatah building
Palestinians look through wreckage inside an office of Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement
Israeli gunships rocketed the building
Israeli helicopter gunships have attacked offices of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's Fatah organisation in the West Bank.

At least two gunships hit Fatah's regional headquarters in the al-Bireh suburb of Ramallah, not far from the Jewish settlement of Psagot, but no casualties were reported.

I was still inside when I heard some helicopters flying very close to the building - one missile entered the room

Fatah employee Carlos Zaghlool

Palestinian sources suggested the attack was an attempt to assassinate a leading Fatah member who had been at a meeting there just before it happened.

An Israeli army spokesman said the operation was in retaliation for Palestinian gun attacks, with one soldier killed and another seriously injured on Thursday.

The army accuses Fatah members of regular involvement in attacks.

Palestinian gunmen in Ramallah and Israeli soldiers guarding the Psagot settlement have frequently exchanged fire since the start of the Palestinian uprising last September.

A member of the Palestinian police and a crowd of Palestinian on-lookers look through the hole after the Israeli helicopter attack
Examining the hole left after the attack

Palestinian witnesses were quoted as saying that damage to the Ramallah offices on Saturday was severe.

Marwan Barghouti, who leads the Fatah-linked Tanzim militia, said the Israeli helicopters had been aiming for top Fatah official Muhammed Mansour.

Mr Mansour left the building moments before the attack.

The Israeli army refused to comment on the accusation.

The BBC's Barbara Plett
"The Israelis said they were retaliating for recent shooting attacks in the West Bank"
See also:

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06 Sep 01 | Middle East
Mid-East talks 'next week'
06 Sep 01 | Middle East
Three dead in West Bank attacks
07 Sep 01 | Middle East
Israel buys 52 more US jet-fighters
07 Sep 01 | Middle East
Anti-Israeli protests in Arab cities
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