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Tuesday, 4 December, 2001, 13:01 GMT
Israel strikes at Arafat headquarters
Residents flee Israeli missile attacks in Gaza
Attacks on Gaza are said to have wounded 100
Israeli helicopter gunships have launched a second day of attacks on Palestinian targets, including the headquarters of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in the West Bank town of Ramallah.


The world has to stop this Sharon madness immediately

Saeb Erekat
Mr Arafat was inside the building, but was not injured in the attack.

In his first public statement after the attacks, Mr Arafat accused Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon of trying to torpedo his crackdown on militants. He called for an emergency summit of Muslim leaders.

Israeli aircraft also fired at Palestinian targets in and around Gaza City, as well as the West Bank town of Salfit, between Ramallah and Nablus.

Palestinian hospital sources say two people were killed in the attacks and more than 100 injured.

The latest attacks follow a statement by the Israeli cabinet on Monday night declaring the Palestinian Authority an "entity that supports terror".


1. Gaza, Monday pm: Helicopter gunships destroy Arafat's helicopters, airport runway bulldozed
Tuesday am: Security compound hit, two Palestinians killed
2. Jenin, Monday pm: F-16 warplanes bomb security installations
3. Nablus, overnight: Fatah member shot dead
4. Ramallah, Tuesday am: Missiles fired near Arafat's HQ, police station hit

The declaration has caused a rift in Mr Sharon's unity cabinet, with Foreign Minister Shimon Peres accusing elements within the government of attempting to bring about the downfall of the Palestinian Authority.

Mr Peres said his Labor Party would consider seriously whether to stay in the coalition.

Palestinian Information Minister Yasser Abed Rabbo denied the charges of terrorism, saying that Israel's occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip was "the source of terrorism", and that Israel's actions were making the prospects of peace more remote.

Senior Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat accused the Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon of destroying the peace process and called on the international community to stop him.

Panic

Three missiles fired by Israeli Apache helicopters hit a police station only a few metres from Mr Arafat's Ramallah office as the Palestinian leader worked inside.

The rockets left a gaping hole in the wall, but Israeli officials said Mr Arafat was not the target of the strike.

In Gaza City there was panic on the streets as Israeli F-16 jets fired missiles at a Palestinian security installation in a residential area.

Yasser Arafat's compound in Ramallah
Arafat was in the complex when the Israeli planes struck
Hundreds of children fled a nearby school when the first rockets struck.

A doctor said a teenager and a young man had been killed. Dozens of children were reported to be injured by shrapnel and debris.

The Israeli army said its targets in Gaza included a headquarters and training camp of Force 17, Yasser Arafat's personal guard which has been labelled a terrorist organisation by Irsael.

Another Force 17 building in the West Bank town of Tulkarm is also reported to have been hit.

Security installations in the Palestinian refugee camp of Khan Younis, on the outskirts of Gaza City, and in the West Bank town of Salfit came under attack too.

Israel launched the current attacks in retaliation for last weekend's suicide bombs in Haifa and Jerusalem which left at least 25 Israelis dead.


Arafat is the biggest obstacle to peace and to stability in the Middle East

Ariel Sharon
Israeli troops and bulldozers moved into Gaza airport and ripped up its runway, after gunships had destroyed two of Mr Arafat's helicopters.

In the West Bank, a member of Fatah was reportedly shot dead by Israeli gunfire in Nablus, while F-16 warplanes attacked buildings in the Jenin.

Tough measures

After the first wave of attacks on Monday, Mr Sharon gave a televised address in which he held Mr Arafat responsible for "everything happening here".

"He has made the strategic decision to follow terrorism. He has tried to make political gains through the death of innocents," he said.

Mr Sharon said Israel would "chase those responsible for terrorism... those who carry it out will pay the price".

He said Israel would launch a war on terror similar to the one begun by the US after it was attacked in September.

Hours later, Mr Sharon was backed by his cabinet, which voted in favour of tougher security measures, and said "a wider scope of activity against Palestinian terrorism" was required.

US response

Senior Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat called Mr Sharon's speech a "declaration of war".

He called on the US "to interfere and stop Sharon before it's too late".

But White House spokesman Ari Fleischer has made it clear that the US will not try to rein Israel in.

"Israel is a sovereign power," Mr Fleischer said on Monday. "Israel has a right to defend itself."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Helen Simms
"Palestinians are bracing themselves for more attacks"
Senior Israeli government official Gideon Meir
"Yasser Arafat is supporting terrorists"
Palestinian West Bank Security Chief Jibril Rajoub
"The target for Mr Sharon and his government is to undermine the Palestinian Authority"

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04 Dec 01 | Middle East
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04 Dec 01 | Media reports
04 Dec 01 | Middle East
03 Dec 01 | Middle East
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