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Friday, 29 March, 2002, 12:29 GMT
Bomb carnage in Jerusalem mall
Israeli tank
Israeli tanks moved into Ramallah at dawn
A Palestinian suicide bomber has carried out an attack on a Jewish neighbourhood of West Jerusalem, as Israeli forces continued a sustained assault on Yasser Arafat's West Bank headquarters.

At least two people are reported to have been killed, in addition to the bomber, and more than 20 have been injured.

Eyewitnesses described scenes of carnage at the shopping centre in the Kiryat Yovel neighbourhood of Jerusalem, where a female suicide bomber is said to have detonated a large device.

The attack, claimed by the militant Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, came shortly after Israel launched its most direct assault on the Palestinian leader in 18-months.

Israeli tanks smashed through the perimeter of the compound in Ramallah, where the Palestinian leader has been confined for months.

Arafat the 'enemy'

Palestinian officials say tanks are metres away from the Mr Arafat's office and it is coming under fire. They say he has taken refuge in a basement room with no windows.

Fierce gunbattles have taken place between Israeli troops and Palestinians in Ramallah, with one Israeli soldier and at least four Palestinians reported killed. Another 20 are said to have been injured.

The operation follows an all-night cabinet meeting to discuss Israel's response to the suicide bombing in the Israeli town of Netanya on Wednesday night, which left at least 20 Israelis dead.

Arafat is the enemy and he will be isolated

Ariel Sharon
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon declared Mr Arafat an "enemy" and that said Israel would do everything it could to "isolate" him.

He said the operation was part of a widespread action against a "terrorist infrastructure" that would most likely go on for weeks.

Elsewhere, Israeli police have clashed with Palestinians close to al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem.

A police spokesman said they fired stun grenades after Palestinian youths threw stones at Jewish worshippers at the Western Wall, just below the mosque.

Earlier on Friday, two Israelis were stabbed to death by Palestinian militants in the Jewish settlement of Netzarim, in the Gaza Strip.

Palestinian sources said the attack was followed by heavy shooting, and Israeli tanks had been deployed.

The Palestinian leader has responded defiantly to the attack on his headquarters, saying the Palestinians would never give up their fight for an independent state.

'No surrender'

In a telephone interview with Qatar-based al-Jazeera satellite television, he said no one in the Arab world would "surrender or bow" to Israel.

No Palestinian and no one in the Arab nation will surrender or kneel

Yasser Arafat

He also said he hoped the Israeli operation would make him into a martyr.

But the Israeli Defence Minister, Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, said that there was no plan to harm Mr Arafat

The Palestinian Authority has called on people to oppose what it called the forces of occupation and invasion with all their might.

The militant group, Hamas, threatened to strike everywhere inside Israel.

The BBC's Orla Guerin
"The more Israel cracks down the more bombers will hit the streets"
Israeli government spokesman Gideon Meir
"We are ready to negotiate but not to comply with terror"
Mustafa Barghouthi, Palestinian Activist, Ramallah
"They are attacking with every kind of weapon they have"
See also:

29 Mar 02 | Middle East
Eyewitness: Jerusalem supermarket bomb
29 Mar 02 | Middle East
In pictures: Unremitting conflict
29 Mar 02 | Middle East
Mid-East bloodshed sparks global alarm
28 Mar 02 | Middle East
Arabs offer Israelis peace plan
28 Mar 02 | Middle East
Arafat row overshadows summit successes
28 Mar 02 | Middle East
Bush condemns 'callous' killing
21 Mar 02 | Middle East
Israel's history of bomb blasts
02 Dec 01 | profiles
Who are the suicide bombers?
27 Mar 02 | Middle East
Clouds of dissent gather over Beirut
27 Mar 02 | Middle East
Arab summit: Egyptian view
27 Feb 02 | Middle East
What is in the Saudi peace initiative?
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