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Sunday, 2 December, 2001, 20:06 GMT
Arafat orders crackdown
Palestinian demonstration in Hebron
Demonstrations can now be prevented
By the BBC's Kylie Morris in Gaza City

The Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat has declared a state of emergency in the Palestinian territories, following an unprecedented series of attacks on Israeli civilians.

That means that demonstrations can be prevented, people can be detained without due procedure, and the authority can act freely against those organisations which it considers not committed to its leadership decisions.

Scene of Haifa bombing
Arafat ordered a pursuit of the perpetrators
In a statement, Yasser Arafat said he had ordered his security forces to implement the emergency laws, and to pursue those people who had planned and carried out the suicide bombings inside Israel.

He says those responsible must face justice.

Moreover, he says any movement or group not committed to his decisions will be considered outlawed.

Hamas position

Given its attitude, the militant group Hamas which said it carried out the bombings could be considered to fit neatly into the category of organisation which the Palestinian authority might now deem illegal, but that is unlikely to happen.


Without stoppage of the Israeli aggression, the people are forced to defend themselves

Hamas official
Dr Mahmoud Zahar, a Gaza leader of Hamas, has met the Palestinian Authority and other factions to discuss, he says, how to minimise disintegration.

That might mean a public retreat by Hamas in the interests of national unity, but whether it translates into a period of calm will depend largely on the extent to which the Palestinian authority can convince the people that is in their interests.

For the moment, Hamas is clear in its objectives. Dr Zahar said the suicide bombings aimed to achieve an end to occupation which, in turn, would put an end to the violence.

"Just before the arrival of the American delegate, the Israelis killed more than 20 of the Palestinian people ... so we are looking for stoppage of this dilemma," he said.

"But without stoppage of the Israeli aggression, the people are ... forced to defend themselves."

Dr Zahar says the most recent attacks can be linked to the assassination of Mahmoud Abu al Hanoud, a Hamas leader from Nablus, but says the deaths of five Palestinian children in Gaza also affected the mood of Hamas followers.


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