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Tuesday, 24 September, 2002, 09:11 GMT 10:11 UK
UN demands end to Mid-East violence
Ruined workshop
Israel says the workshops were weapons factories
The United Nations Security Council has demanded an end to Israel's military operations around Ramallah and its withdrawal from Palestinian towns - a call Israel appears set to ignore.

The Security Council passed the resolution early on Tuesday as a new military incursion into Gaza City left nine Palestinians dead.

US Ambassador to the UN James Cunningham (L)
America backed the call for peace but said the resolution was biased
It was passed by 14 votes to zero, with the United States, Israel's main ally, merely abstaining instead of using its veto as is usually the case.

But political sources quoted by Israeli state radio said that military operations, including the siege of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's compound in Ramallah, would continue and "gradually intensify" in the Gaza Strip specifically.

The UN resolution has been welcomed by the Palestinian leadership as a "step in the right direction", the French news agency AFP reports.

Brokered by European states, it calls for:

  • Israel to "immediately cease measures in and around Ramallah, including the destruction of Palestinian civilian and security infrastructure"
  • for the "expeditious withdrawal of Israeli occupying forces" from Palestinian cities toward positions held prior to September 2000
  • and for "the complete cessation of all acts of violence, including all acts of terror, provocation, incitement and destruction"
The resolution was passed after a 14-hour debate.

The BBC's Greg Barrow reports that the length of the debate, which covered four different draft resolutions, reflected the disunity among members.

Deputy US Ambassador James Cunningham said his country had abstained from voting because the resolution failed also to explicitly condemn Palestinian suicide bombings.

Our correspondent says that Arab states have raised what they regard as a double standards in the Security Council's dealings.

Israel, they argue, is allowed to flout successive UN resolutions while other nations like Iraq are being held to account for their non-compliance.

Bulldozers

Israel justified its incursion into Gaza as a response to recent attacks on Jewish settlements.

Bulldozers backed by tanks advanced into a number of areas of Gaza at midnight, meeting heavy resistance, the army said.

Israeli tank in Ramallah
Israel has been on the offensive since last week's suicide attack in Tel Aviv
"Explosive devices were targeted at the soldiers. Army forces returned fire and hit a number of armed men," the army said, adding that it had suffered no casualties of its own.

The Israelis say they destroyed 13 workshops used for making weapons.

Gaza hospital staff said nine Palestinians were killed and 24 injured.

At least two of the dead were identified as members of militant groups - Yassin Nasser, 53, of Hamas and 20-year-old Jaber al-Kharazi of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades.

Ramallah stand-off

Protesters against the siege of Mr Arafat's compound rallied in Ramallah on Monday night.


Map showing location of compound in Ramallah
Arafat's Ramallah compound
  • Known as the Muqata'a
  • Built by the British in the 1920s
  • Palestinians took control in 1994, a year after Oslo peace accords
  • Largely destroyed by Israeli forces

  • Mr Arafat has rejected an Israeli demand to provide a list of all those who are sheltering with him in his besieged headquarters.

    More than 200 of Mr Arafat's aides and security officials are trapped in a wing of his office.

    Israel says that wanted militants are among them, and that they should all give themselves up for questioning.

    The BBC's Barbara Plett, in Ramallah, says the dilemma for the Palestinian leaders is that Israel is determined to get its hands on the Palestinian West Bank intelligence chief, Tawfik Tirawi - one of the wanted men in the compound.

    He is a senior security official and Arafat loyalist, and Palestinians say it would be political suicide for Mr Arafat to hand him over.

     WATCH/LISTEN
     ON THIS STORY
    The BBC's Jeremy Cooke
    "In Ramallah Palestinians showed solidarity with their besieged leader"
    Israeli foreign ministry spokesman Mark Sofer
    "The resolution also contains positive elements as far as we are concerned"

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    24 Sep 02 | Middle East
    23 Sep 02 | Middle East
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    21 Sep 02 | Middle East
    22 Sep 02 | Middle East
    15 Sep 02 | Middle East
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