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Friday, 5 April, 2002, 21:01 GMT 22:01 UK
Israel 'proves' Arafat's links with militants
Ariel Sharon
Mr Arafat is isolated in his Ramallah compound
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By Richard Miron
The BBC's correspondent in Jerusalem

The Israeli army has documents which it says prove a link between Yasser Arafat and militants who carried out attacks against Israeli civilians.

The documents were taken from Mr Arafat's compound in Ramallah, and apparently link the Palestinian leader to a number of individuals sought by Israel.

A photo of one of the documents the Israeli army claims to have seized after they stormed into Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat┐s compound
Palestinian officials say the documents are fake
Senior Palestinian figures, however, say the documents are fakes.

The Israeli army's intelligence branch has been displaying the evidence, which it claims was gathered from two truck-loads of documents taken from the Ramallah compound.

One document allegedly shows a hand-written note by the Palestinian leader approving payments to three West Bank activists, all of whom the army says were involved in arranging attacks against Israelis - including one which claimed the lives of six people at a religious celebration.

'Ideological back-up'

Colonel Miri Eisen of the Israeli army's intelligence branch says the documents are compelling evidence of the Palestinian leader's complicity in these actions.

"The bottom line is that we have direct funding of money requested directly to Arafat, and by him, with his own signature, given to these people who are known terrorists," she said.

Senior Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat says the documents have been manufactured by Israel to discredit Yasser Arafat.

But the Israeli army and government officials have been stressing what they regard as the importance of the findings.

The Israelis are using the alleged disclosures to ideologically underpin their military campaign against both the militants and the Palestinian authority as a whole.

See also:

05 Apr 02 | Middle East
US envoy breaks Arafat isolation
02 Apr 02 | Middle East
Israel considers exiling Arafat
31 Mar 02 | Middle East
Sharon vows to crush 'Arafat terror'
30 Mar 02 | Middle East
Bush tells Arafat to stop militants
04 Feb 02 | Middle East
Sharon defends secret talks
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