Question of Palestine home || Permalink || About UNISPAL || Search

Follow UNISPAL RSS Twitter

Source: Division for Palestinian Rights
31 October 2002
D i v i s i o n f o r P a l e s t i n i a n R i g h t s



Chronological Review of Events Relating to the
Question of Palestine
Monthly media monitoring review


October 2002


1

The PA Cabinet met amid the ruins of Chairman Arafat’s compound in Ramallah. Acting Minister Saeb Erakat said Mr. Arafat would ask the Palestinian legislature to give him more time to present a new Cabinet. (The Jerusalem Post)

Maher Ghnaim, an official of the PA Ministry of Housing and Public Works, said the damage from Israel’s siege of Chairman Arafat’s Ramallah compound totalled some US$15 million. (AFP)

The IDF confirmed that at least 32 Palestinians had been arrested overnight and said 23 of them were “wanted suspects” for attacks on Israel. Many of the suspects had been captured in Jenin. (The Jerusalem Post)

Addressing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Prime Minister Tony Blair said at the British Labour Party’s annual conference in Blackpool that “by this year’s end, we must have revived final status negotiations and they must have explicitly as their aims an Israeli State free from terror, recognized by the Arab world, and a viable Palestinian State based on the boundaries of 1967.” He also stated his support for UN resolutions to be applied to the situation between Israel and the Palestinians as much as to Iraq. “But they don’t just apply to Israel. They apply to all parties,” he noted. (Ha’aretz)

“Europe and the United States must stand side by side to settle this tragic conflict in the Middle East and face this common challenge together,” the current holder of the EU Presidency, Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen, told the Danish Parliament. Mr. Rasmussen reiterated that “the international community has agreed on the objective to put an end to this: the establishment of a Palestinian State by June 2005.” “It is towards this aim that we are working, but that requires reform in the Palestinian Authority, which itself requires a withdrawal of Israeli troops” from the Occupied Palestinian Territory, he added. “We must not forget Israel’s legitimate right to security,” he said, noting that “the madness of suicide attacks in the Jewish State must end and the Arab States must acknowledge Israel’s right to exist.” (AFP)

2

Chairman Arafat said President Bush’s decision on 30 September 2002 to sign the US Foreign Relations Authorization Act for 2003, requiring the US Government to list Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in official documents, was a “catastrophe that Muslims and Christians should not let pass in silence”, adding that he was “asking the American Administration and the American President to stop this”. A spokesman for the Saudi Government said it was “surprised by this decision that sends the wrong message to Israel, as it actually encourages it to take a more extreme approach towards the Palestinians and UN resolutions.” Arab League Secretary-General Amre Moussa said in a statement that the decision was a “blatant violation of UN resolutions,” expressing “worries” over the bill and “relief” that President Bush had made it clear he would ignore its provisions. In an accompanying statement to the Act, President Bush had said that the Administration would interpret the provisions as advisory, and the State Department had later said that it would disregard the changes, arguing that the instructions were merely non-binding recommendations. (AFP, The Jerusalem Post, Reuters)

In a statement referring to the recently signed US law on Jerusalem, the Russian Foreign Ministry called “on all parties to avoid unilateral actions that anticipate the results of negotiations on a final status”. “A solution to the problem of Jerusalem’s status must be found in the framework of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. The four mediators (Russia, United States, the United Nations and the European Union) are currently working out a framework for a solution which is intended to include the status of Jerusalem”, the statement added. (AFP)

Referring to Prime Minister Blair’s 1 October call that peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians be resumed before the end of 2002, Foreign Minister Peres said that Mr. Blair’s speech was aimed at calming critics of his Iraq policy at home and Minister without Portfolio Dan Meridor said it overlooked key Israeli concerns, such as to ensure secure borders before Israel’s withdrawal from the Occupied Palestinian Territory. Mr. Blair’s call was welcomed by Palestinian officials as “a very important statement”, but they noted at the same time that Mr. Blair must push Israel to implement UN Security Council resolution 1435 (2002), adopted the previous week, which not only called for an end to the siege of Chairman Arafat’s Ramallah headquarters but also for a withdrawal from reoccupied Palestinian cities. (AFP)

Foreign Minister Peres told Israel Radio that Israel needed to build a policy on three fronts: to resume negotiations with the Palestinians, press for Palestinian reforms, and give priority to the US campaign against Iraq. (Reuters)

A UNICEF statement said that more than 226,000 Palestinian children and more than 9,300 teachers were “unable to reach their regular classrooms” and at least 580 schools in the West Bank and Gaza Strip had been closed because of curfews, closures and other measures. Many Palestinians children were now being schooled at home or in makeshift classrooms such as mosques, basements and alleyways, the statement said, adding that it was difficult to assess the quality of such teaching arrangements. “Alternative schooling initiatives are an indication of the extent to which the regular lives of Palestinian children are being devastated by this conflict”, Pierre Poupard, UNICEF representative in the Occupied Palestinian Territory said in the statement, noting that Israel, as an occupying Power, had an obligation to ensure education was accessible to every Palestinian child, in line with the Fourth Geneva Convention and the Convention on the Rights of the Child. “As an absolute minimum, mobility restrictions on Palestinian civilians must be lifted throughout [the Occupied Palestinian Territory] during school hours”, the statement said. Children living in and around the towns of Nablus, Jenin, Tulkarm and Hebron had been most affected after more than three months of Israeli reoccupation of the West Bank. (www.unicef.org, AFP)

Former Chief of Shin Bet Ami Ayalon and senior PLO Jerusalem official Sari Nusseibeh started a joint campaign aimed at bringing about a broad consensus on coexistence between the two peoples. “In recent weeks, we have begun working bilaterally to encourage dialogue within each nation, as a prelude to dialogue between them”, Mr. Ayalon told Reuters. Mr. Nusseibeh had reportedly faxed earlier in the week surveys to public figures in the West Bank to gauge their willingness to accept a basic set of terms for resuming peace talks. These terms included Israel’s withdrawal from lands occupied since the 1967 war, while Palestinians would give up their demand for the return of refugees to what is today Israel. On the Israeli side, Mr. Ayalon said he had been holding contacts “on various levels, with very diverse audiences”. The objective was “to remind Israelis that they have the power to bring about change by showing the Palestinians that there is a partner for peace”. Feedback from both sides would provide the basis for a peace proposal that Messrs Nusseibeh and Ayalon planned to present to the Palestinian and Israeli leaderships. Mr. Ayalon pointed at polls which indicated the majority of Israelis and Palestinians wanted to go back to the negotiating table and were willing to make concessions despite the spiraling violence. “Both sides made a big mistake at Oslo by dwelling on the present instead of settling on a final future settlement”, Mr. Ayalon noted, adding that the peace process had “also lost touch with the people on the street, creating a dangerous sense of alienation that finally erupted two years ago”. (Ha’aretz, Reuters, The Jerusalem Post)

The IDF destroyed the family house of an Islamic Jihad militant in the village of Tammun, north-east of Nablus. The man had been arrested six months earlier, Palestinian security sources said. Israeli security services said they had arrested six Palestinians in the West Bank, and that four of them had been on their “wanted list”. (AFP)

3

A 45-year-old Palestinian vendor had been killed in a Jenin vegetable market by machine-gun fire from an Israeli tank, as Palestinians had gone to the market assuming the curfew would be eased during the day. A military spokesman said the curfew remained in place. Regarding the incident, IDF sources said an army patrol had come under fire from armed Palestinians and had fired back towards the source of the shooting. The army was investigating, they said. Separately, an army spokesman said troops had arrested another 35 suspected Palestinian militants in overnight raids across the West Bank. (AFP, Reuters)

At his third hearing in a Tel Aviv civilian court, West Bank Fatah leader and Palestinian Council member Marwan Barghouti called on Palestinians to defy Israeli-imposed military curfews in West Bank cities and again rejected Israel’s right to try him. The latest hearing was called to give Mr. Barghouti’s legal team a chance to argue its position that Israeli courts had no authority to try him. According to the defence team, Mr. Barghouti’s arrest on territory under PA control was an “abduction” violating the Oslo accords, while his transfer to a prison inside Israel violated the Fourth Geneva Convention against transferring a detainee to the territory of the occupying power. Israeli prosecutor Devorah Chen denied the trial was politically motivated and insisted there were ample grounds for the murder charges. (AFP, DPA, Reuters)

Israeli troops had conducted a drill of an operation to expel Chairman Arafat by air to a “distant and isolated location” in some unnamed foreign country, Ma’ariv reported, noting that neither Jordan nor Lebanon were to be the destination. Israel’s Channel 2 TV news report said recently the country could be Libya, or another Arab State with no relations with Israel. Ma’ariv said the plan could be executed very rapidly if the Israeli leadership gave the green light. Aides close to Chairman Arafat could also be led to exile with him by helicopter. The daily stressed, however, that after the latest siege of Mr. Arafat’s Ramallah headquarters and the harsh reaction of Washington, the plan had been shelved “until further notice or until the American operation in Iraq [was] completed – whichever comes first”. Ma’ariv added that the plan had been fine-tuned at the request of Prime Minister Sharon and Defence Minister Ben-Eliezer. Senior Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat said this was “an evil idea and just reflect[ed] the true intentions of the Israeli Government ... to destroy the peace process”. He urged the international community “to intervene immediately to reveal exactly what the Israeli Government [was] planning to do”. (AFP, DPA, Reuters)

In talks with Moroccan Foreign Minister Mohamed Benaissa, Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi urged that the Al-Quds Committee of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, chaired by King Mohammed VI of Morocco, meet to discuss the consequences of new US legislation on Jerusalem, IRNA reported. (AFP)

In a meeting with representatives of the Palestinian Christian community at his Ramallah headquarters, Chairman Arafat called on Christians to join Muslims in rejecting a US congressional demand that Jerusalem be recognized as Israel’s capital. “No one can touch Jerusalem”, Mr. Arafat said, and called on “Muslim and Christian nations to act against any decision attacking [the status] of Jerusalem”. (AFP)

To counter the recent US legislative action on Jerusalem, the PA demanded an emergency meeting of the Arab Ministers’ Committee formed by the Arab Summit in March in Beirut to follow up on the Saudi peace initiative it had endorsed. The Palestinian delegate to the League of Arab States Mohamed Sobeih told reporters he had conveyed the demand to the Arab League Secretary-General Amre Moussa, and that discussions were under way between Mr. Moussa and Lebanon, the current League Chair. (AFP)

4

A 15-year-old Palestinian, who had been throwing stones at an IDF position, was shot and killed by IDF soldiers at a roadblock close to Barta’a village in the northern West Bank. (AFP, Ha’aretz)
Israeli troops fired at a taxi driver breaking the curfew in Nablus, who had jumped out of his car to avoid troops in jeeps trying to detain him near the entrance to the Askar refugee camp. A 12-year-old Palestinian boy standing nearby had been hit instead and critically wounded, witnesses and medics said. An IDF spokesman said soldiers on patrol in Nablus fired after being targeted by gunmen in the vicinity. He had no information on civilian casualties. In Jenin, Palestinian witnesses said Israeli troops had fired at random and wounded four civilians, after having been shot at by Palestinian gunmen during a tank patrol. (Ha’aretz, Reuters)

PLO Deputy Chairman Mahmud Abbas (Abu Mazen), in remarks from Moscow published in Al-Hayat, said the Palestinians had a plan to calm the conflict with Israel. “We can start by implementing security wherever it is possible, like in Gaza where there are remains of the [PA] security services,” but “the guarantees must come from Israel and the United States,” that Israel would halt killings, reoccupation of PA areas and destruction of property, he noted. (AFP)

Some 50 Israeli police entered the Al-Haram al-Sharif compound in the Old City of Jerusalem and used stun grenades and tear gas to disperse Palestinians who had thrown stones at officers stationed near the Western Wall plaza. According to Palestinian sources, there were some 5,000 worshippers on the site at the time but after prayers most of them left, while some 150 stayed behind inside the Al-Aqsa mosque. Police said about 30 Palestinian youths had begun throwing stones at police stationed at the entrance of a pathway leading from the side of the plaza up to the compound. No injuries or damage were reported, and worshippers were allowed to leave the site, but a large police presence remained. (Albawaba.com, AP, Arutz 7, BBC, Ha’aretz, Reuters)

Foreign Minister Peres met with the Quartet envoys in Tel Aviv and told them that he intended to renew his dialogue with Palestinian officials, aimed at reaching a ceasefire and eventually a renewal of the peace negotiations, Israel Radio reported. He reportedly emphasized the importance of promoting reform in the Palestinian security forces and establishing a unified command over all armed Palestinians in the PA areas, as well as continuing financial reforms. Mr. Peres also said Israel would continue to cooperate with the “Quartet”, in accordance with decisions made at its meeting last month in New York. (DPA, Ha’aretz)

Israeli settlers took over a house in central Hebron, near the Beit Romano compound in the H2 (Israeli-controlled) part of the city. They said the house belonged to Jews and started remodelling work. A Palestinian resident, Muhammad Azmi Dendis, said the house belonged to him. Israeli police spokesman said there had been “dozens of instances of settlers entering Palestinian homes in Hebron,” and dealing with such takeovers was the responsibility of the IDF and the civil administration. IDF sources said the army was dealing with the incident. (The Jerusalem Post)
A 16-year-old Palestinian boy was shot and wounded by Israeli soldiers in Nablus, when he opened a window in his house while studying with a friend. The boy later died at an IDF roadblock after unsuccessful attempts to bring him to a hospital or have a Palestinian ambulance attend to him. An Israeli ambulance was allowed in after long negotiations but arrived too late. (LAW)

5

“There is no doubt that the Israelis are using the attack against Iraq and the fact that the world has become preoccupied and focused on what is happening there as an opportunity to launch major operations against our people,” Chairman Arafat told the Spanish daily La Vanguardia. Asked about the recent decision of the US Congress concerning Jerusalem, Mr. Arafat said: “It’s terrible, we cannot stay silent. All the Christians and Muslims of the world must act. Jerusalem is for the whole international community.” (AFP)

Israeli soldiers had fired on Palestinian stone-throwers in Ein Beth Ilma, a refugee camp near Nablus under curfew for more than 100 days, killing a 17-year-old and wounding two more boys, Palestinian witnesses and medics said. Residents said Israeli soldiers, who had often allowed children to attend unofficial classes at nearby schools despite the curfew, on this day had ordered the students back home, prompting stone-throwing clashes. The IDF said its troops had fired “deterrence shots not aimed at people” after Palestinians had thrown rocks and opened fire. (AFP, Reuters)

6

Chairman Arafat had signed a bill designating East Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian State, Palestinian Council speaker Ahmed Qurei (Abu Ala) said, adding that the bill had been passed by the Council two years ago but Chairman Arafat had only decided to sign it late on 5 October, in response to the recent demand by US Congress legislation that Jerusalem be recognized as Israel’s capital. The Council held a special session later in the day to discuss the issue of Jerusalem. (AFP, DPA)

The IDF had raided the offices of Palestinian newspaper Al-Ayyam in Ramallah, the daily’s administrator Abdel Nasser Najar said. Soldiers had stormed the paper’s HQ and forced journalists and other employees to gather in one room, while they searched the building and newsroom and seized papers. (AFP)

A Palestinian from the village of Aqraba, near Nablus, was shot dead when a group of settlers from the nearby “Gidonim” and “Itamar” settlements fired on him and other Palestinians working on the olive harvest. Another Palestinian was injured. Palestinian witnesses said Israeli soldiers had been in the area at the time, and that the settlers had surveyed the Palestinians through binoculars before firing. “The security forces have not taken sufficient steps to enforce the law on settlers who used violence to prevent Palestinian farmers from harvesting their olives,” human rights group B’Tselem said in a statement. Ha’aretz quoted IDF officers who confirmed that a group of young settlers in the area had been deliberately attacking Palestinian olive harvesters and that the army has taken no real measures to prevent this. (AFP, Ha’aretz, Reuters)

A Palestinian taxi driver, who the previous day had been hit in the head by a bullet fired from an Israeli tank while venturing out during a curfew in Jenin, had died from his wounds at a hospital inside Israel, where he had been evacuated, Palestinian medics said. (AFP)

7

According to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) in Gaza, IDF troops, backed by more than forty tanks, APCs and helicopter gunships, had made an incursion into the Khan Yunis neighbourhoods of Al-Katiba and Al-Amal shortly after midnight. The troops had surrounded a house and opened fire, wounding a 50-year-old woman, who had later died as paramedics had been prevented from reaching her, and a 15-year-old boy. Two more Palestinians had been killed by Israeli fire and missiles in other parts of the city and at least four wounded. An Israeli helicopter gunship fired another missile at a crowd of about 200 Al-Katiba residents who came out of their shelters when they thought the raid was over. The missile killed ten, including four children, and wounded more than fifty, of whom ten were in critical condition. “The killing of civilians must be punished by the killing of civilians,” said Mahmoud Al-Zahar, a senior member of Hamas. (LAW, Reuters)

Israeli troops manning a lookout post near the “Neve Dekalim” settlement opened fire on the Namsawi neighbourhood of Khan Yunis killing a 23-year-old Palestinian there. The Nasser Hospital in Khan Yunis had also come under Israeli fire “from all directions, coming through the walls and windows,” according to witnesses, as it was taking in casualties from the overnight IDF raid. Five people inside had been wounded, including a 14-year-old boy who had been hit in the neck and a paramedic wounded in the chest. Israeli military sources said soldiers had fired towards the hospital in response to mortar bombs launched at the settlement from the vicinity of the hospital. (DPA, Ha’aretz, Reuters)

“Every time we witness efforts to revive the peace process and put it back on track, like those being exerted now by [Javier] Solana, the Israeli Government moves to conduct such war crimes and murder innocent civilians because the end game of the Israeli Government is to resume full occupation of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank,” said PA Minister Saeb Erakat. Senior aide to Chairman Arafat Nabil Abu Rudeineh called for an international peace-keeping force to protect the Palestinians. “This is a crime that proves that Israel should be punished and isolated. There should be international sanctions. Israel is sabotaging efforts by the Quartet and the US to revive peace efforts,” he told reporters in Ramallah. (Ha’aretz)

“Israel has a right to defend itself. Israel should, however, consider carefully the consequences of its actions – that includes the need to take every measure to prevent the loss of innocent life in fighting terror,” said White House National Security Council spokesman Sean McCormack. “[The Khan Yunis attack’s] scale and above all the use of tanks and aviation in a heavily populated area was clearly disproportional,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement. (DPA, Reuters)

“The [European] Commission is particularly concerned that more than 20 humanitarian missions contracted by the EU have been turned back when arriving at Israeli ports of entry,” EU External Relations Commissioner Chris Patten said in a statement. “I am equally concerned at delays caused to humanitarian organizations by the numerous checkpoints and the charges levied by Israel for security checks … Israel should immediately allow full, safe and unfettered access for international and humanitarian personnel.” EU officials said the Palestinians’ worsening economic crisis would be a key issue raised by European Governments in talks with Foreign Minister Peres in Luxembourg on 21 October. (DPA)
The following statement was issued by the Spokesman for United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan:
(UN Press Release SG/SM/8424 of 7 October 2002)
Danish Foreign Minister Per Stig Møller, his country holding the EU Presidency, told reporters in Copenhagen that he “regret[ed] and condemn[ed] very much the acts which [had] been committed by the Israeli army”,” adding that he would “ask now the Palestinians to control the possible terrorists so they [did] not retaliate.” A separate statement from the EU Presidency condemned what it described as “the arbitrary use of extrajudicial killings, which will not bring security to the Israeli people.” (AFP)

The IDF had killed a Palestinian man near Nablus, Palestinian security sources said. (AFP)

8

Prime Minister Sharon, commenting on the 7 October IDF missile attack on Khan Yunis, told reporters he thought “the operation was a success.” “We have to take into consideration that the Israeli forces are making every effort to contain raids and attacks by terrorist organizations”, Mr. Sharon noted, adding that “Most of the casualties there were terrorists and are terrorists, but still there were some civilians. Therefore, I express my sorrow for that”. (AFP, Ha’aretz, Reuters)

US Secretary of State Powell told reporters he was “impressed” by the progress in reforms undertaken by the PA, following a meeting on the subject with PA Finance Minister Salam Fayad the previous day. He said the recent outbreak of violence had not deterred US efforts to push forward towards a settlement involving the creation of a Palestinian State under new leadership. Referring to the Israeli attack on Khan Yunis on 7 October, Mr. Powell said the US was “in touch with the Israelis to tell them they have to examine their actions with great care to avoid this kind of loss of life, which does not further our efforts to find a peaceful solution.” “We’re concerned about the level of civilian casualties and the consequences of this kind of activity,” Mr. Powell said, noting that Israeli incursions into the Gaza Strip or the West Bank were in retaliation for mortar shelling or terrorist attacks by Palestinians. “A halt to terrorist activities would of course produce a halt to the response,” he said. The White House said President Bush was “deeply concerned by reports of Israeli military actions in Gaza that have resulted in the deaths and wounding of many Palestinian civilians”. “The President urges Israel to minimize the risk to civilian populations in areas in which Israel Defence Forces are operating,” said a written statement by spokesman Ari Fleischer. (DPA, The Jerusalem Post, Reuters) “We deplore Israel’s continuing use of disproportionate measures in very densely populated areas,” French Foreign Ministry spokesman François Rivasseau said of the IDF’s 7 October attack. “We again call on the Israeli Authorities to do everything to protect the civilian population in all circumstances in line with international law,” he added. “The military operations must cease and various UN Security Council resolutions must be implemented.” (AFP)

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Sergio Vieira de Mello, in a letter addressed to Foreign Minister Peres, expressed his “extreme concern” over the deaths caused by the 7 October IDF attack on Khan Yunis. In the letter, the High Commissioner said the killing of at least 14 Palestinians, among them a number of children, was an unacceptable loss of civilian life, which appeared to constitute a violation of the Geneva Conventions, as well as of Article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Israel was a party. He asked the Israeli Government to give assurances that the Gaza killings would be “fully, impartially and transparently investigated and that appropriate action would be taken against those to be found responsible.” (AFP)

A 12-year-old Palestinian girl had died after having been hit in the chest by live bullets near her house in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, Palestinian medical sources said. The girl’s family said the gunfire, which killed her, had come from a nearby Israeli army post. (AFP, Reuters)

The President of the International Committee of the Red Cross, Jakob Kellenberger, who had met Prime Minister Sharon and Chairman Arafat during a visit to the region, told a news conference there was “a basic requirement of international humanitarian law that a distinction be made between combatants and civilians.” “When I then heard what happened in Gaza I felt it even more important that I was putting that message in the centre of the discussions with the Authorities.” He said he had stressed to Prime Minister Sharon the need for “proportionality” and had told Chairman Arafat to do all he could “to stop attacks on Israelis.” Mr. Kellenberger said there was also concern about Palestinian and Israeli ambulances being misused in the conflict. ICRC spokesman Uriel Masad said the ICRC was waiting for a reply to its query about the use by the IDF of the Israeli Magen David Adom emblem, such as by Israeli forces to seize Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti in April 2002. Mr. Kellenberger said in one case a Palestinian ambulance had been used to ferry explosives and that non-authorized services had exploited the Palestine Red Crescent Society emblem. (Reuters)

Two Palestinian high school students had been injured by Israeli fire, as the army staged an incursion into Jenin, Palestinian security officials said. The IDF had arrested 12 Palestinians across the West Bank overnight. In the Gaza Strip, the IDF had arrested three wanted militants from Islamic Jihad, the same sources said. (AFP, Reuters)

Suspected Palestinian gunmen had wounded four Israelis in an attack on their car at a junction south of Hebron, Israeli security sources and medics said, after first reporting that one Israeli had died. Following the incident, IDF armoured personnel carriers entered Hebron. The IDF said that a curfew had been imposed but would not comment on the reported incursion. A Reuters cameraman in Hebron said several settlers had attacked Palestinian shop owners on news of the shooting, forcing them to close their market stalls. (AFP, Ha’aretz, The Jerusalem Post, Reuters)

9

Defence Minister Ben-Eliezer announced the start of a campaign to remove the so-called “unauthorized” settler outposts in the West Bank, and sent in troops to dismantle three uninhabited sites. Senior Adviser to Chairman Arafat Nabil Abu Rudeineh said the removal of the outposts was an Israeli smokescreen aimed at clouding “violations of international law and assaults against the Palestinian people.” (AFP, Ha’aretz, The Jerusalem Post, Reuters)

Seven children aged 6 to 10 had been wounded by Israeli tank- and gunfire near a housing development and at a schoolyard in Khan Yunis, Palestinian medics and witnesses said. None of the injuries was serious, they added. The IDF said soldiers had opened fire with non-lethal weapons when a group of Palestinians advanced on a guard tower. In the West Bank village of Salfit, the IDF dynamited the homes of two Hamas activists suspected of involvement in killing two Israelis in August. A third house was brought down by the force of the blast. In a separate incident, the IDF, with about 15 armoured personnel carriers and jeeps, entered Beit Rima in the West Bank and imposed a curfew before arresting a Fatah leader, witnesses said. No injuries were reported. Overnight, the IDF had arrested a total of 13 Palestinians across the West Bank, Israeli military sources said. Eight members of Hamas had been captured, including six in Hebron in the south and two in Tubas in the north. One of the detainees was linked to Fatah. (AFP, DPA, Ha’aretz, Reuters)

Israel transferred a third and final tranche of US$14.7 million in withheld custom duties to the PA. Israel released the funds in line with an agreement reached in July between Foreign Minister Peres and PA Finance Minister Salam Fayad. (AFP)

IDF tanks escorting bulldozers demolishing Palestinian houses in Rafah, along the Israeli-controlled border with Egypt, had opened fire and killed a Palestinian teenager, medical sources said. A crowd of angry stone-throwers, which had gathered following the incident, had been targeted by another burst of heavy machine-gun fire from the tanks that killed a second boy, the sources said. The boys were aged 14 and 15 respectively. About 20 other youths had been wounded in the incident, 10 of them seriously. Separately, an Israeli had died from the gunshot wounds he had sustained on 8 October, during an attack on a car near Hebron claimed by Hamas. (AFP, Reuters)

Israel freed a Palestinian photographer working for Reuters. Jussry al-Jamal, 23, had been held for more than five months with hundreds of other Palestinians at the Ofer detention camp near Ramallah. The tent he was held in was not waterproof, he was given food which he said was barely enough to sustain him, was provided with little water, and had received no treatment when he suffered an ear infection. He had been questioned several times, mainly about footage he had filmed in Hebron in late April 2002, but no charges had been made against him. Another Palestinian photographer, employed by AFP, also arrested near Hebron in late April 2002, remained under administrative detention, having never been charged with any crime. A third Palestinian reporter, working for Al-Quds, had been held since April 2002 too. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said its members had been visiting more than 7,200 Palestinians in Israeli jails; around half of the Palestinians were being held on common criminal charges. (AFP, Reuters)

10

In a tank and armoured vehicle incursion into the Rafah refugee camp, in the southern Gaza Strip, which the IDF said targeted Palestinian militants, Israeli soldiers had shot dead a 12-year-old Palestinian boy and a teenager, hospital officials said. Asked about the deaths, Assaf Librati, spokesman for the Israeli army’s Southern Command, told Reuters in Jerusalem that Rafah was like a “battle zone” but soldiers did not target children. Palestinian witnesses said the 12-year-old had been hit in the head by Israeli fire as he stood in a street near the fighting between armed Palestinians and Israelis, while an unarmed 18-year-old had been shot in the chest. Witnesses also said bulldozers had demolished nine houses and a helicopter had fired at least one missile during the raid. An IDF statement in Jerusalem said that, during the Rafah operation, its forces had discovered two tunnels used for smuggling weapons. (AFP, Reuters)

An Israeli woman had died from wounds sustained in an early morning suicide bomb attack in the Tel Aviv suburb of Bnei Brak, which had also injured 29 other people, a police spokesman said. The suicide bomber had slipped while trying to board a bus and had been thrown out by passengers who saw the explosive belt strapped to his body. He had then run to a second group of people waiting nearby and had blown himself up there, the spokesman added. (AFP, DPA)

The IDF had arrested dozens of Palestinian militants, mostly members of Hamas, in a large-scale operation in villages around Ramallah, Israeli military sources said. Several units, including tanks and helicopters, had taken part in the sweep, which had lasted several hours, without meeting any resistance from the Palestinians, the sources said. “The aim was to destroy the infrastructure of Hamas, to arrest those behind anti-Israeli attacks”, a military spokesman told Army Radio. Some 10 Palestinians had also been seized in the town of Yamoun, near Jenin, and at least 10 more in the Nablus, Qalqilya and Hebron areas. (AFP, DPA)

Jordanian Foreign Minister Marwan Muasher voiced concern that Israel could exploit a US war on Iraq to deport Palestinians to Jordan. “While the Israelis have privately assured us this is contrary to their policies, we have not yet seen one public statement by any Israeli official stating that the transfer policy is contrary to Israeli policies”, he told members of the International Media Forum. Mr. Muasher said Jordan had adopted contingency plans to prevent an influx of Iraqi refugees in the event of a US-led military strike on Iraq, as well as plans to block the arrival of Palestinian deportees. The measures Jordan had taken on its borders with Iraq and the West Bank were aimed at allowing in only “those with legitimate reasons”, such as people in transit or those coming to Amman for medical reasons, he noted. The Minister said he expected that a “road map” for a settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would be announced by the end of October and said US envoy William Burns would visit Amman later in the month to discuss it. (AFP)

“The US Government continues to view the question of Jerusalem as a final status matter to be negotiated between the parties”, Chuck Hunter, public affairs officer at the US Consulate General in Jerusalem, told a Palestinian delegation of religious and civic leaders. In a statement issued by the Consulate, Mr. Hunter was also quoted as saying that “Therefore we will not change our practices on official publications or the way Jerusalem is listed in consular documents, including passports”. (Reuters)

11

PA Finance Minister Salam Fayad, during his recent visit to Washington, had reportedly warned his US interlocutors, who included Secretary of State Powell and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, that the Palestinian side might have to “re-evaluate” its support for a two-State solution if the international community did not do more to halt Jewish settlement expansion. This was considered the first time PA officials had suggested that a two-state solution to the conflict with Israel might no longer be feasible. No alternative solutions had reportedly been put forward. (AP, Ha’aretz)

Senior Palestinian officials said Chairman Arafat had appointed Hanna Nasser, president of Birzeit University, to head the Election Commission overseeing the Palestinian general elections scheduled for 20 January 2003. (AP, Ha’aretz)

The armed wing of Hamas, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, claimed responsibility for the 10 October 2002 suicide bombing in a Tel Aviv suburb, which it said had been carried out to avenge the deaths of Palestinians in Israeli attacks in the Gaza Strip. (AFP)

In an interview with Reuters, Meretz party leader Yossi Sarid advocated the idea of “an international mandate in the [Occupied Palestinian] territories”, as “the only idea that can be implemented”. The advantage of such a plan, according to Mr. Sarid, was an immediate end to Israeli occupation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, to be replaced by an international peacekeeping force for a limited time. In the interim, Israelis and Palestinians could negotiate the final terms of a comprehensive peace deal, while Palestinians could rebuild and reform their own national institutions with the help of the international community. “It would be for a period of two years with the prior declaration of the establishment of a Palestinian State”, he said, adding that then the State would be “born like East Timor, out of the womb of the international mandate”. (Reuters)

A 15-year-old boy had died from wounds he had sustained during the 7 October IDF operation in Khan Yunis, hospital officials reported. The latest fatality brought to 18 the number of Palestinian deaths from that IDF operation, most of them caused by a missile fired from an Israeli helicopter gunship at a crowd of people. Israel had said it had targeted a group of armed men who had opened fire at its force, which had been combing the town for militants and weapons. Palestinians had said that nearly all of the victims had been civilians. More than 100 people had been injured in the operation. (DPA)

Israeli police scuffled with Palestinians trying to force their way into Al-Haram al-Sharif for the Friday prayers, in defiance of an Israeli ban on the entry of men under the age of 40 to the site. About 200 angry young Palestinians tried to push their way through a barricade but were driven back by police. No arrests or injuries were reported. Israeli police spokesman Gil Kleiman said authorities had temporarily barred male Muslim worshippers under the age of 40 from the compound “in light of intelligence warnings of civil disturbances planned for today’s afternoon prayers”. The prayers ended without incidents, amid a massive Israeli security deployment. (AFP, Reuters)

Several settlers had returned to a settlement outpost they had set up near Nablus, even though it had been dismantled by the IDF the previous day, Ha’aretz reported. The outpost, “Beit Hanotzrim”, near the settlement of “Har Bracha”, was the only inhabited one dismantled by the IDF, which had removed a total of 12 outposts over the past week, eight of them on 10 October. (DPA)

Israeli soldiers shot dead a Palestinian woman, as she sat on her veranda during a curfew in Nablus. Her son, who was slightly wounded, said in a telephone interview that a soldier had fired the shots from the back of a jeep on the street near the house, from about 30 metres away, without any apparent reason. (AFP, The New York Times)

12

A Palestinian man had been fatally wounded when Israeli soldiers had fired shots from a tank in a suburb of Khan Yunis, Palestinian hospital sources said. (AFP)

An IDF spokesman said IDF troops had arrested two Hamas militants in the village of Beit al-Rush al-Fuqa, south-west of Hebron, and a third one in Jama’in, near Nablus. Separately, an explosive device had been disabled at an Israeli army position near Rachel’s Tomb, on the northern outskirts of Bethlehem, without causing any casualties. (AFP)
A Palestinian teenager was shot dead by Israeli machine-gun fire in the centre of Tulkarm, after reportedly throwing a Molotov cocktail at an Israeli jeep. (AFP)

13

Israeli Army Radio said that the US Ambassador to Israel Dan Kurtzer on 11 October had conveyed a message from the White House to Prime Minister Sharon criticizing the Israeli refusal to improve the economic situation and to allow the free movement of Palestinians in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, as well as the high number of Palestinian civilians killed. (AFP, Ha’aretz)

At least 15 Israeli tanks, APCs and bulldozers moved into the western part of Rafah in the Gaza Strip. One Palestinian was shot dead and five others were wounded by gunfire in the incursion, two critically. Later a four-year-old child was killed by falling masonry as Israeli soldiers dynamited a nearby house with a charge so strong it destroyed his house and the one next door. Some 25 other people were injured in the blast, including the boy’s grandfather who was said to be in critical condition. Overall, five houses were destroyed in the process of looking for smuggling tunnels. A mother and two of her children aged four months and 18 months were also wounded by Israeli tank fire in Rafah. (AFP, DPA, Reuters)

Israeli troops shot dead two Palestinian gunmen trying to raid the Israeli town of Yevul (Kerem Shalom), after apparently sneaking through the nearby border with Egypt. Two Israeli soldiers were wounded in the incident. (Reuters)

A Palestinian woman had been killed and two girls wounded when an Israeli tank had opened fire with a heavy machine-gun on a taxi near the village of Bir al-Basha, around 5 kilometres southwest of Jenin, Palestinian medical officials said. (AFP)

A team of 15 international heart specialists arrived in the Gaza Strip for a week of operations on babies suffering from heart problems, as part of a solidarity mission organized by two US aid groups, including the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund. The team of surgeons, pediatricians and nurses, mostly from the US, New Zealand and Canada, started off by inspecting children at the Mohammed Al-Dura hospital in Gaza City to select the most critical cases. (AFP)

Defence Minister Ben-Eliezer said Israel intended to implement a “Judea [southern West Bank] First” security plan which would see Israeli troops pulling out of Hebron, Israel Radio reported. “We’ve tried the Gaza and Bethlehem First [plan] but in Gaza it didn’t work, so we want to implement the Bethlehem model in Hebron”, the Minister told reporters while en route to a 48-hour visit to Paris, without elaborating further on the proposal, or giving any indication of when it might take place. The plan had reportedly been introduced by Foreign Minister Peres. (AFP, Arutz 7, Ha’aretz)

Foreign Minister Peres had said at the Government’s weekly Cabinet meeting that he believed Israel was being “quietly boycotted in Europe” because of its actions in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, Israel Public Radio reported. “It is not Israel’s explanations [of its policy] that are to blame—it is what we’re doing in the field,” he said, noting that explanations meant nothing in the face of footage showing Israeli actions in the Occupied Territory. “Why do we have to blow up houses every day? Why can’t it just be done in one day of concentrated action?”, the radio quoted him as saying. (AFP)

14

An explosion in a booby-trapped public telephone booth near Beit Jala hospital, north-west of Bethlehem, killed a Palestinian, Mohammed Abiat, belonging to the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades. Palestinian sources said the victim was not the real target and Israel wanted to get his older brother, Nasser, the current commander of the “Tanzim” in the Bethlehem area. (AFP, Ha’aretz)

Israeli settlers and security forces clashed at the “Havat Gilad” outpost south of Nablus, one of the four manned outposts that Defence Minister Ben-Eliezer had marked for removal. In another development related to settler outposts, Knesset Speaker Avraham Burg criticized MK Uri Ariel for ignoring the law and moving into the “Givat Assaf” outpost in the West Bank, near the settlement of “Ofra”. (Arutz 7, Ha’aretz)

The British Ambassador to Israel, Sherard Cowper-Coles, had said in a long conversation with General Amos Gilad that the Occupied Palestinian Territory was “the largest detention camp in the world, in which 3.5 million people live,” the daily Yediot Aharonot reported. The Ambassador had toured the Territory and told Gen. Gilad he had seen “illegal [Israeli settler] outposts, new roads, needless harassment and humiliation of the civilian population at roadblocks,” the daily said. He was also quoted as saying that Israel was “in violation of the Geneva Convention” and accused Israeli forces of displaying “instances of a lack of professionalism” amid reports about soldiers looting Palestinian property. (AFP)

The IDF lifted the curfews on Ramallah, Tulkarm, and Nablus (though not the Nablus Qasbah). The curfews on Qalqilya and Hebron remained lifted. (Ha’aretz, Arutz 7)

Ha’aretz reported that Israel and the US had reached an understanding over the supervision of PA finances, in order to enable the Israeli transfer of some NIS2 billion of frozen tax revenues to the PA. The agreement had been reached during a meeting attended by Israeli Foreign Ministry Director-General Avi Gil, Finance Ministry Director-General Ohad Marani, head of the Prime Minister’s Bureau Dov Weisglass, US Ambassador Dan Kurtzer, and PA Finance Minister Salam Fayed. (AFP, Ha’aretz)

The IDF had killed two Palestinians in Jenin during the night, Palestinian sources reported. They said the soldiers had opened fire at a car and the bodies of two Palestinians had later been found. Ha’aretz reported that two Palestinians had been killed in an explosion in Jenin, apparently while trying to detonate an explosive device against an Israeli tank in the city. In a separate incident, a Palestinian woman had been moderately injured by shrapnel from an Israeli tank shell in the eastern part of Beit Hanoun, in the northern Gaza Strip, a Palestinian security official said. (AFP, DPA)

15

Defence Minister Ben-Eliezer told Israel Army Radio during a visit to France that the Israeli Government was holding “intensive talks on widening the area” of withdrawal from Bethlehem to the rest of the southern part of the West Bank, the so-called “Judea First” plan. He said the IDF would withdraw its troops from Hebron by the end of the week if calm prevailed there and “conditions on the ground allow[ed] it”. Later in the day, Foreign Minister Peres told Israeli public TV that troops had already partially withdrawn from Area A sectors they had been occupying in Hebron. PA Minister and senior negotiator Saeb Erakat, however, said that no such withdrawal had taken place and commented that the statement had been made with Prime Minister Sharon’s visit to Washington and the forthcoming Quartet meeting in mind. Mr. Erakat told AFP the Quartet should send international observers to verify when and if troop movements were made. (AFP, DPA, Ha’aretz, Reuters)

At the end of a meeting with Arab League Secretary-General Amre Moussa in Cairo, UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Terje Rød-Larsen was quoted as saying that “As far as the UN is concerned, [Chairman] Arafat is the democratically elected leader of the Palestinians and we have to relate to him as such”. He noted that the situation on the ground was “increasingly ugly” and said he would convey Mr. Moussa’s views in that respect to the Quartet meeting in Paris later in the week. (AFP)

Mufti of Jerusalem Sheikh Ekrima Sabri underwent a three-hour questioning by Israeli police. The Mufti had been taken from his home in East Jerusalem for questioning over a statement he had made in June 2002 to Al-Ayyam, in which he had “pronounced upon the right of the Palestinian people to fight the Israeli occupation and saying there’s no religious prohibition on the use of suicide bombings”, Israeli police spokesman Gil Kleiman said. During his questioning, Mr. Sabri had denied supporting “terror” and had claimed he advocated only non-violent struggle in his speeches and articles, police sources said. Police had warned him they were sending their file on him to the state Attorney-General. The Mufti himself told journalists afterwards that “Some of the newspapers have false reports, concerning some issues, and I clarified my positions”. He added that he considered the case “finished”. (AFP, The Jerusalem Post)

A 18-year-old Palestinian had been shot dead in Tulkarm, near his home, when Israeli troops had opened fire with automatic weapons from a tank at a crowd breaking the curfew, Palestinian sources said. The IDF soldiers said he was about to throw a petrol bomb at them. Separately, Israeli troops had overnight arrested six suspected militants in Tulkarm and five more in the Hebron area. (AFP, DPA)

The IDF gave permission for Palestinians to repair four access roads to Ramallah that had been unusable for the past two years. PA Public Works Minister Azzam Al-Ahmad said the roads linked Ramallah to Bir Zeit, Ain Yabrud, Hijmeh and Dura Al-Qara. The Minister said the permission had been the result of international pressure on Israel to ease living conditions in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, adding that the road work had already commenced. (AFP)

16

IDF fire had wounded 16 Palestinians, including nine children, in the Rafah refugee camp in the southern Gaza Strip, Palestinian security sources said. Two tanks had opened fire without provocation, according to the sources. Six people had been hit, including a 12-year-old boy and a 53-year-old man, who were both struck in the head and were seriously wounded, security and medical sources said. The man later died from his wounds. The gunfire had also hit several houses and an UNWRA-administered school, triggering clashes between soldiers and stone-throwers, which had left another six people wounded, including an 11-year-old boy who had been shot in the head and a three-year-old who had been hit in the leg, the sources said. (AFP, Reuters)

Chief Palestinian negotiator and PA Minister Saeb Erakat and Foreign Minister Peres met in Jerusalem. Mr. Erakat told Voice of Palestine radio that he and Mr. Peres had discussed “the situation on the ground” and the transfer of frozen funds to the PA. Mr. Peres told Israel Radio that the meeting focused not only on the humanitarian gestures Israel could make towards the Palestinians but also on ways of renewing Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. Israeli Army Radio said the talks had also dealt with a possible Israeli withdrawal from Hebron. (AFP, DPA)

Following a meeting between President Bush and Prime Minister Sharon at the White House, Mr. Bush said he appreciated Mr. Sharon’s willingness to work on unfreezing PA funds and announced that Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs William Burns would embark on a 12-nation tour of the region, with the prime reason of resuscitating the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. (AFP, DPA, Ha’aretz, The Jerusalem Post, www.whitehouse.gov/news)

Hundreds of settlers, some of them holding assault rifles, gathered at the “Havat Gilad” outpost south of Nablus, forcing a delay in the planned evacuation. Some blocked the road to the outpost with large rocks and their own cars to impede troops and police, others smashed two journalists’ vehicles and pelted passing cars with stones, while others targeted a passing Red Cross vehicle, attacking the driver and smashing the vehicle. Ha’aretz reported later in the day that about one thousand demonstrators had left the outpost, after settler leaders had reached a deal with Minister Ben-Eliezer. Under the compromise deal, the settlers would leave the site and not continue residing there, but would be able to work the agricultural land and to keep most of the farm buildings in place, under ongoing IDF guard. The Defence Ministry denied any agreement had been reached and said it had made no promises regarding the future of the outpost, which had to be dismantled. (DPA, Ha’aretz, Reuters)

“Curfew is no longer a tool to meet specific security needs, but a sweeping means of collective punishment” and the “prolonged curfew has made Palestinian life in the West Bank intolerable”, according to a report entitled “Lethal Curfew”, issued by B’Tselem. The report said that at least 15 Palestinians had been killed and many more wounded for being out of their houses during curfews since mid-June 2002. Twelve of those killed were under the age of 16. “Shooting a person simply because he left his home during curfew constitutes excessive use of force”, the report noted, adding that some of those killed or wounded apparently did not know the curfew was in force. In response, the IDF said militants had used breaks in the curfews to mount attacks on Israelis, citing a 31 August 2002 attack on a settlement near Nablus after the army had lifted a curfew on that city to permit schools to open. B’Tselem said the curfews created problems for hundreds of thousands of people, increasing malnutrition and disrupting schools, and were so extensive that they violated the right to freedom of movement included in international law. The organization accused the IDF of being slow to investigate cases in which Palestinians had been killed, while rapidly checking cases involving shooting at Israelis, an allegation denied by the military. (The Jerusalem Post)

17

IDF fire killed eight Palestinians, including women and children, and wounded at least 40 others in the Gaza Strip. Dr. Ali Mussa of al-Najar hospital in Rafah said the dead included a 70-year-old woman and at least three children aged 13, 12 and 9. About ten of the injured were in serious condition, he noted. In a statement, the IDF said “Palestinian terrorists [had] fired an anti-tank rocket at an army unit that operated in the area, and troops returned fire, targeting the attackers.” Palestinian sources said gunmen had shot at army bulldozers working to erect a fence in the area. Defence Minister Ben-Eliezer expressed regret over the deaths of civilians and said everything possible was done to avoid civilian casualties. He added that, to his knowledge, three “terrorists” had been killed in the exchange of fire, but he would know exactly what had happened in a few days, following an investigation by the IDF. Two schools had been hit by tank shells, including one run by UNRWA. UNRWA Commissioner-General Peter Hansen in a statement said that he was “deeply dismayed and saddened by the loss of life in the refugee camp and the serious damage caused to UNRWA and Palestinian Authority schools”. He added that this was “another case of disproportionate force being use against civilian targets, including schools full of children”, while stressing that no school children had been injured, as they had already been sent home. In a statement, the Palestinian leadership condemned “this new massacre by Israeli tank shells against a refugee school and houses in Rafah” and called for the international community to intervene and send observers. (AFP, DPA, Ha’aretz, The Jerusalem Post, Reuters)

The following statement was issued by the Spokesman for United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan:
(UN Press Release SG/SM/8443 of 17 October 2002)

The Danish EU Presidency, in a press release, “strongly deplore[d]” the Rafah incident and stressed that “irrespective of the circumstances, the lives of civilians, be it children or adults, must be protected and spared”. It said that “The resort to violence and the excessive use of military counter measures against it must be stopped by both sides. Schools and homes should not be exploited for violent purposes nor be targeted by the military forces”, and appealed to both sides “to exercise utmost restraint”. It noted that “irresponsible actions on the ground” should not be allowed to interfere with attempts under way by the parties and by the international community to break the circle of violence and restart the political process and it welcomed the 16 October Israeli-Palestinian talks. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said the US had “made quite clear [its] concerns in the past several weeks about dozens of civilians that have been killed and the humanitarian institutions that have been struck. It’s essential that the Israeli forces take steps to prevent tragic incidents like those that have occurred over the past week or so.” (The Jerusalem Post, www.eu2002.dk)

US officials had presented to Prime Minister Sharon a “road map” aimed at ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict within three years, Israeli newspapers reported. Yediot Aharonot and Maariv said the three-stage plan would begin with a halt to anti-Israeli attacks and the reform of the PA, coupled with the lifting of the Israeli blockade on the Occupied Palestinian Territory and an easing of the Palestinians’ living conditions. This should be completed by 1 June next year, after which a provisional Palestinian State would be declared following elections and an international conference on the Middle East. Yediot Aharonot said this phase would be complete by June 2004, while Maariv said by the end of 2003. The last stage would be devoted to negotiations for a final resolution of the conflict, with the involvement of Arab countries, among others. The whole process should be wrapped up around the end of 2005 or beginning of 2006. The plan was similar to the road map launched earlier by the Quartet and was being further elaborated in Paris, at a Quartet meeting taking place with the participation of US Assistant Secretary of State William Burns. “This road map, as discussed by the Quartet, is an object of continuing work and one of the things that Ambassador Burns is working on during the course of his trip”, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said. After meetings with senior US officials in Washington, Prime Minister Sharon had told reporters that he would “study the project in the coming days, but we are in no way tied by it”. (AFP)

The IDF had arrested 10 Palestinians in raids in the West Bank, a military spokesman said. Among the detainees was a member of Hamas who had been arrested near Ramallah, and 9 other people who had been captured in the village of Tel, near Nablus. (AFP)

18

In an interview with the Belgian weekly LeVif/L'Express, Foreign Minister Peres said Chairman Arafat’s legitimacy was not in question but it was his credibility that was at stake, “especially with respect to his capacity to carry out reforms and his commitment to tackling terrorism”. He added that, if Mr. Arafat did not deliver, he would lose his legitimacy. Mr. Peres noted that he was among those in the Israeli Government who had opposed calls for Chairman Arafat’s expulsion and said that Mr. Arafat would not be expelled and he was “free to move around the territory”, adding that “If he wants to, there is no reason why he cannot go to Gaza”. (Reuters)

Israeli soldiers had shot dead a Palestinian militant who had thrown an explosive device at an army convoy in the northern Gaza Strip, Israeli and Palestinian sources reported. Two Israeli soldiers had been lightly injured when the device exploded near their vehicle close to the settlement of “Dugit”, according to the IDF. Hamas said it had carried out the attack and one of its men had been killed in the process. (DPA, Reuters)

The IDF said it had suspended its curfew indefinitely in Jenin and had also eased restrictions on movement in Hebron, Tulkarm, Nablus and Qalqilya. (Reuters)

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation said in a press release that “while firmly condemning the terrorist actions of extremists, [Moscow] views with great concern the disproportionately harsh operations carried out by Israeli forces … in densely populated Palestinian territory and causing the unjustified loss of civilian lives”. (AFP, www.mid.ru)

Several hundred Israeli reservists had signed a petition demanding that the IDF immediately dismantle rogue settlements in the West Bank, Israel Radio reported. “It is absurd for us, that we who respect the law are called on to guarantee the security of those who trample it underfoot,” said the petition submitted to Deputy Foreign Minister Michael Melchior. Mr. Melchior, who is also a rabbi, appeared to back the petition and denounced the “anarchy of the situation in the wildcat settlements, which are set up by a group including extremists who behave like gangsters, with the support of totalitarian and autistic rabbis.” (AFP)
League of Arab States Secretary-General Amre Moussa had urged UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Sergio Vieira de Mello to take action against Israel’s “barbaric” treatment of the Palestinians, his spokesman, Hisham Yussef, said in a statement released at the League’s HQ in Cairo. “The international community’s silence in the face of these practices fuels the Arab peoples’ feeling of anger and frustration, as Israel continues to be treated as a State above the law,” the statement added. (AFP)

19

Israeli troops had raided houses in Nablus before dawn and had arrested at least eight suspected Fatah and Hamas militants, the IDF and Palestinian witnesses said. Four soldiers had been injured as they blew up the door of a wanted man’s house in the Balata refugee camp. (Reuters)

The Mayor of Hirbat Yanun, a village south-east of Nablus, said that most of his 150 constituents had decided to abandon their homes due to the constant harassment by settlers from the “Itamar” settlement, about 10km away, who “cut the water and electricity, … create provocations and want to take [the villagers’] land”. The Mayor added that only five families, or about 70 people, remained in the hamlet. “It’s the beginning of an ethnic cleansing operation being conducted by the Israeli Government with the complicity of the settlers to enable the implementation of its settlement and colonization plans,” PA Local Government Minister Saeb Erakat told AFP. In the same area, Palestinian olive pickers had once again been harassed by local settlers who shot in the air and demanded they leave the fields, Israel Public Radio reported. Shortly afterwards, the Palestinians returned to pick olives with the help of tens of peace activists, but the settlers returned and police were called to evacuate the area. A number of the peace activists complained to the police that the settlers had been firing in their direction, Israel Army Radio said. (AFP)

20

Israeli tanks fired shells and machine-guns for more than 90 minutes on a Khan Yunis residential area bordering on the “Gush Katif” settlement block, wounding four people and damaging several buildings, including a market. The attack came several hours after the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades claimed it had launched five anti-tank missiles on “Gush Katif” and shortly after a shooting at an Israeli car on a settler road, also claimed by the Brigades. Separately, Israeli bulldozers flattened Palestinian land adjacent to the “Netzarim” settlement and opened machine-gun fire, lightly wounding a 16-year-old boy in his home and shooting out the window of an UNRWA car. (AFP)

Prime Minister Sharon had approved a partial Hebron pullout plan presented by Defence Minister Ben-Eliezer at a meeting they had held before the start of the weekly cabinet session, and after security consultations with Mr. Ben-Eliezer, IDF Chief of Staff Gen. Moshe Ya’alon, military intelligence chief Gen. Zeev Farkash, West Bank military commander Gen. Moshe Kaplinsky and Avi Dichter, head of Israel’s domestic security service, Israel Public Radio said. Israeli forces were to redeploy later in the day but would remain in two neighbourhoods overlooking settler enclaves but belonging to the Palestinian-controlled (H1) area under a 1997 protocol. Chairman Arafat’s advisor Nabil Abu Rudeineh said “The proposed withdrawal from Hebron is not enough, they should withdraw from all Palestinian cities in line with UN resolution 1435.” Ha’aretz later reported the redeployment had been delayed and would take place within two or three days, as details were still being finalized. (AFP, Ha’aretz)

Gen. Tzvi Fogel, the commander for southern Israel, said on Israel Public Radio that over the next two years the IDF planned to invest US$54 million (€55.5 million) in building new outposts in the Gaza Strip and erecting a “protection wall” in Rafah, in order to reinforce existing Israeli border positions and thus prevent infiltrations and gunfire across the frontier. (AFP)

Around 200 Palestinian children demonstrated in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, in protest against the number of children killed by the IDF in recent weeks. (AFP)

Israeli troops and police continued to scuffle with hundreds of Israeli settlers, as the settlers tried physically to prevent the soldiers and police from dismantling the one shack and two large containers at the “Havat Gilad” (“Gilad Farm”) settlement outpost. Settlers who had been dragged from a building would re-enter it as soon as they could, one witness said. Others damaged an army bulldozer, putting it out of operation. Some 43 police and soldiers were wounded and 15 settlers were arrested. “Israel is a law-abiding nation and any attack on its army, police, or security forces is an attack on the Government and should be sharply denounced,” Prime Minister Sharon said in a statement. The settlers made clear they would not go quietly as they refused to abandon the outpost and had started to repair the buildings the army had destroyed, Israel Public Radio said. A spokesman from the Settlers’ Council, YESHA, urged settlers to “examine their conscience” and “restart dialogue” with the authorities, the radio said. (AFP, DPA, Ha’aretz, Reuters)

21

IDF tanks, APCs and a bulldozer had surrounded the home in Qabatiya, in the northern West Bank, of a Hamas activist who had been arrested five months ago. The soldiers had ordered his 10-member family outside and then flattened the home, the mayor of the village said. (AFP)

Israeli soldiers, in a long firefight, shot dead two armed Palestinians they said were trying to infiltrate the “Kfar Darom” settlement in the Gaza Strip. Palestinian security and medical sources later said no bodies had been found in the area. (AFP, DPA)

A car pulled alongside an Egged bus No.841 at a junction on the Hadera-Afula highway in northern Israel, several miles inland from the coastal town of Hadera, during the afternoon rush hour, and exploded setting the bus on fire and killing at least 14 people. Israeli ambulance officials said over 40 people had also been wounded in the blast. Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the attack. The explosives-laden car had apparently come from the Jenin area in the northern West Bank, a police commander told Israeli Radio. According to police officials, there might have been two suicide bombers in the car. Chairman Arafat, speaking at his compound in Ramallah, repeated the Palestinian leadership’s opposition to “attacks that target civilians, Israelis or Palestinians.” The attack was carried out in spite of increased security measures introduced by the Egged bus company. (AP, Arutz 7, BBC, Ha’aretz, Reuters)

The following statement was issued by the Spokesman for United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan:
(UN Press Release SG/SM/8452 of 21 October 2002)
Despite the car bomb attack on the Israeli bus near Hadera, Israeli and Palestinian representatives met in Hebron to coordinate plans for a partial IDF withdrawal from the city. (Ha’aretz)

EU Foreign Ministers held political and trade talks with Foreign Minister Peres in what diplomats said was another attempt by the EU to end continuing Israeli-Palestinian violence. A statement issued after the talks demanded that Israel put an “immediate end to activities that are inconsistent with international humanitarian law and human rights such as extrajudicial killings, abstain from all acts of collective punishment such as demolition of Palestinian homes, lift closures and curfews and abstain from deportations of family members.” Danish Foreign Minister Per Stig Møller also insisted on the need for a quick resolution of a long-running trade dispute over Israel’s exports to Europe of products from Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, saying “Israel must live up to its obligations and engage in constructive talks … It is unacceptable that Israel does not accept an agreement.” “Our patience is running thin,” said one official, adding that a new round of technical talks on the issue with Israel scheduled for early next year must produce quick “concrete results.” (DPA)

The spokeswoman for EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana, Cristina Gallach, said on behalf of the EU Foreign Ministers that “more tenacity was needed” in Middle East peace efforts and that the EU would “continue [their] engagement with the United States,” but “the timeline must be accelerated” in order not to “lose momentum.” “The Ministers are very concerned about the situation on the ground, especially the humanitarian situation in Gaza and the West Bank,” the spokeswoman added. The EU Ministers welcomed US backing for a Middle East road map, stressing also that Israel and the Palestinians had to make “parallel efforts” to end violence. Elements of the road map, including a lifting of Israeli closures and a resumption of the transfer of tax revenues to the PA, could be implemented immediately, they said. (DPA)

According to Israel Radio, Israeli police reported clashes between Jewish settlers and Palestinians near the “Shevut Rachel” settlement, about 20 kilometers south of Nablus, and the village of Turmisaya. Palestinian sources said that a rumor was spread in the mosques in the area that settlers had killed a Palestinian and that in response Palestinians had burned a field belonging to the settlement. The radio also reported that settlers had confronted Palestinians in the olive groves of Turmisaya and burned three Palestinian vehicles. Police arrested four young settlers from illegal settlement outposts near the “Har Bracha” settlement in the Nablus area, after a Palestinian resident of the nearby Kafr Qalil village lodged a complaint that the four had stolen his olive harvest. (Ha’aretz)

22

Following talks in Damascus with Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad, US Middle East envoy William Burns called the previous day’s Palestinian suicide attack in northern Israel “reprehensible” and said it did “severe damage to Palestinian interests and aspirations”. “If we are to succeed in ending occupation, building two States and resuming progress toward comprehensive peace, it is critically important to stop the violence that has done so much to undermine legitimate Palestinian aspirations,” he said. UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw issued a similar statement, in which he said “Palestinian extremists have to realize that these actions serve only to harm the interests of the vast majority of Palestinians and undermine efforts to realize their legitimate aspirations.” (AFP, Reuters)

Following the 21 October suicide attack in northern Israel, a statement from the Danish EU Presidency called on the PA to prevent suicide bombings and urged Israel and the Palestinians “to re-engage in security cooperation in order to reverse the spiral of violence.” “We repeat our previous calls to both parties to show maximum restraint,” the statement added, underlining that “the international community [was] seriously engaged in the search for progress towards reform, security and political dialogue.” (AFP)

Defence Minister Ben-Eliezer told Israel’s Channel One television that Israel was running out of military options for dealing with the Palestinian uprising and that “despite that painful day [of the latest suicide bombing], it would be worthwhile to begin some soul-searching and say that perhaps this is the time to begin to present our diplomatic agenda”. Israeli security sources said the IDF was preparing a series of operations against militant groups, including Islamic Jihad, which had claimed the 21 October bombing against a bus in northern Israel. Minister without Portfolio Tzipi Livni said Israel would have to make sure it did not upset US plans against Iraq in deciding on measures to take against Palestinian militants. Nonetheless, Prime Minister Sharon said in Jerusalem that “When it comes to the security of Israeli citizens or the security of the State of Israel, there are not going to be any compromises whatsoever, not now and not in the future”. (Reuters)

IDF troops surrounded and opened fire on a home belonging to a family member of a wanted Islamic Jihad member in Hebron. Neighbours said no one was inside. In separate incidents, the IDF demolished homes near Nablus, which belonged to two militants linked to previous bombings. In the southern Gaza Strip, 10 tanks made incursions into the Rafah refugee camp; no casualties were reported. (AP, The Jerusalem Post)

Israel’s Infrastructure Minister Effie Eitam, head of the far-right National Religious Party, ordered the Water Commissioner to stop all drilling for water by Palestinians in the West Bank, as well as to freeze the issuance of permits for future drillings. The decision, announced by Mr. Eitam at a press conference in Jerusalem, would have a severe effect on Palestinian agriculture, which relied mainly on water drilled from the ground. The IDF also issued a prohibition on Palestinians picking olives in West Bank villages, saying troops could not protect pickers from Jewish settlers. Later in the day, it retracted the order. (Ha’aretz)

Returning from a visit to the Occupied Palestinian Territory and Israel, where he headed an interagency team, UN Assistant Emergency Relief Coordinator Ross Mountain told journalists in Geneva that Israel was not living up to promises it had given to special UN envoy Catherine Bertini last August. Mr. Mountain said senior Israeli officials had repeated pledges to ease the movement of Palestinians through checkpoints, but the problem was getting the message through to the soldiers manning them. “The humanitarian situation is getting inexorably worse”, Mr. Mountain said, noting that international agencies were already providing food aid to some 1.5 million Palestinians, around half the population, a higher percentage than that of Afghans dependent on international assistance. He acknowledged that some donor countries were concerned the international community was being asked to take over financing of services for which Israel, as the occupying Power, should be responsible, but there was no other choice. “It is essential that further humanitarian assistance be provided. There is no other way”, Mr. Mountain said. The inter-agency mission to the region that he headed had been tasked with drawing up a one-year plan of action covering areas like food, health, education and water, which would be used for an eventual appeal for funds to donor countries. (Reuters)

The two Palestinian suicide bombers responsible for the bus attack on 21 October had taken advantage of the lifting of a curfew on Jenin to infiltrate Israel, IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.Gen. Moshe Ya’alon had told the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee, Yediot Aharonot reported. “The curfew had been lifted on humanitarian grounds and the terrible Karkur attack was carried out less that 48 hours later”, Mr. Ya’alon had reportedly said, adding that “in parallel with its fight against terrorists, the army takes humanitarian measures in favour of Palestinians while it also takes risks into account”. The General had noted that dozens of attacks had been planned by armed Palestinian groups and that his services had foiled as many as seven of them in the past 10 days. He had also said he disapproved of the settlers’ resistance to the IDF’s dismantlement of unauthorized West Bank outposts, as ordered by Defence Minister Ben-Eliezer. (AFP)

A Palestinian photographer working for AFP, Hossam Abu Alan, was freed by the IDF, after having been held for six months without any charges. Soldiers escorted him from the Ketziot detention camp in the southern Negev desert and left him at the Tarkumiya checkpoint, near Hebron, to make his way home. Mr. Abu Alan had been accused of having smuggled suicide bombers into Israel but Israeli security services had “estimated that there was no longer any reason to keep him in detention and he was freed”, said Danny Seaman, head of the Israeli Government’s Press Office, without providing further details. According to Reporters without Borders, there were at least two other Palestinian journalists, Khalid Ali Mohammed Zwawi, of the weekly Al Istiqlal, and Nizar Ramadan, of the daily Al-Quds, who remained in detention. Israel was holding at least 1,000 Palestinians in administrative detention, most of whom had been rounded up during the military offensive in the West Bank last March and April, an IDF spokesman said, adding that about 500 were kept at Ketziot and the other half at Ofer camp. (AFP)

The IDF had completed planning the route of a new 42km segment of the security fence, which would run from Megiddo Junction (Salem roadblock), opposite the village of Zububa, northwest of Jenin, through to the Gilboa mountains, in the vicinity of the village of Faqqua, north-east of Jenin. The plan would be presented in the coming days to Defence Minister Ben-Eliezer and Defence Ministry Director-General Amos Yaron, before receiving cabinet authorization for additional funding. The head of the project, Colonel Netzah Mashiaah, had said in discussions over the past few days that, despite delays, the first 98km long segment of the fence and all its electronic components would be completed by July 2003. The Defence Ministry’s seam-line area authority had promised that by January 2003 it would have completed an 8.5km segment of the security fence, with all its electronic components, to run from the Salem roadblock, north of Jenin, to the Mei Ami junction in the vicinity of the village of Asaqa, east of Jenin. (Ha’aretz)

23

Some 23 Palestinians had been lightly injured by falling debris when the IDF destroyed overnight the house of an Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades member in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, sources at the Al-Najar hospital in Rafah said. Witnesses said bulldozers accompanied by 25 tanks and armoured personnel carriers had entered Rafah’s el-Sallam neighbourhood around midnight and had surrounded the home of Mahmoud Al-Qaseer, who had been killed in April near the “Kisufim” crossroads in the Gaza Strip after he had shot dead a female settler and three Israeli soldiers. Soldiers had placed explosives in the two-storey house after evacuating its inhabitants, then blew up the whole building. They said they had found an explosives belt in the house. Israeli troops had later blown up a house in the Beit Ilma refugee camp, near Nablus, Israel Radio reported. The destroyed house was that of a Fatah militant who had allegedly been involved in an attack in Netanya, in northern Israel. Residents of the Palestinian village of Jiftlik, in the centre of the Jordan Valley, also said that the IDF had moved in and destroyed two houses and three shops. It was not known whether it was a punitive measure or because the houses had been built without permission from the Israeli authorities. The IDF said it had arrested 9 wanted Palestinians in overnight operations in Ramallah and Hebron, as well as in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip. Eleven Palestinians had been wounded by IDF tank fire, following the arrest of a wanted militant from a barber shop in the Balata refugee camp in Nablus, security sources and witnesses said. (AFP, DPA, Reuters)

Following his meeting with US envoy William Burns in Tel Aviv, Foreign Minister Peres told Ha’aretz that there were “major, many problems” with the “road map for peace”. Mr. Peres praised the initiative for offering a “political horizon” but said he understood it was only “a first reading” and added, “naturally, from our standpoint, the most urgent and demanding issue is security. We won’t withdraw from the territories unless someone there is in control of things. We are saying that we will pull out of all areas where the Palestinians prove that they are capable of enforcing security. We will not create a chaotic and wild situation in the territories.” After the meeting, Mr. Burns said the failure of the PA to curb suicide bombers had set back their ambition of independence but that President Bush remained determined to see through a two-State solution to the conflict. Prime Minister Sharon, in a speech delivered later to the Likud Party congress, voiced concern that the “road map” did not sufficiently address Israel’s security needs. (Ha’aretz, Reuters)

The Knesset rejected a proposed bill that would ban from the assembly any party trying to incite the expulsion of Palestinians or Arab Israelis from their land. The Knesset voted down the proposal, drafted by the communist Hadash party, by 51 to 23 out of 74 members present. Deputies from the right-wing majority parties voted against the motion, which had the backing of Arab Israeli deputies and Meretz, as well as Hadash. Several members of the Labour Party also voted in favour, although most did not participate in the debate. (AFP)

During a meeting in Jerusalem with Russian Middle East Envoy Andrei Vdovin, Defence Minister Ben-Eliezer called on Russia and Europe to sever ties with Chairman Arafat. Mr. Ben-Eliezer called for an end to such contacts within the context of “uncompromising action against Arafat and his policies,” a Ministry statement said. He also called on Russia and Europe to “encourage other elements within the Palestinian Authority to circumvent” the Palestinian leader. Mr. Vdovin said that Russia was working within the Quartet to “deploy intensive efforts” to reach a political solution as quickly as possible and put an end to the violence. (AFP)

The head of the Islamic Jihad, Ramadan Abdullah Shallah, told Al-Hayat that “if they [the Israelis] are ready to stop killing [Palestinian] civilians and to stop the massacres they commit, we could revise our Jihad policy targeting civilians or those presented as civilians” in Israel. “If they want this, they must take the initiative, but we are not going to beg them,” he said. (AFP) The Chinese Ambassador to Lebanon, Liu Wanghua, announced that China had named Wang Shijie as a special envoy to the Middle East peace process, adding that the new envoy would be making a tour of the region in November. “He does not carry any initiative or proposition in particular and his mission is limited to an exchange of points of view so that China plays a more positive and more effective role to help resolve the crisis in the Middle East,” she said. (AFP)

24

US envoy Burns met in Jericho with PA Minister for Planning and International Cooperation Nabil Shaath, Chief Palestinian negotiator and PA Minister of Local Government Saeb Erakat, Speaker of the Palestinian Council Ahmed Qurei (Abu Ala) and PA Information Minister Yasser Abed Rabbo. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the US “road map” for peace in the Middle East. “In this process all sides have obligations,” Mr. Burns told reporters after the meeting. “It is only through all sides fulfilling their obligations that we’re going to be able to move together to end the occupation that began in 1967,” only this would end “the very real suffering and humiliation that Palestinians experience under occupation every day” and “the terror and violence which have done so much to undermine the legitimate aspirations of Palestinians”, he said. Mr. Erakat said he saw the “road map” as “full of conditions” and that Chairman Arafat and the Palestinian leadership would study it before giving any official reaction. Mr. Qurei afterwards hinted the plan drafted by the Quartet was too vague to succeed. “We need a real ‘road map’ that will take us to the last destination, a real Palestinian independent State that can live beside Israel in peace. We want a very clear road without obstacles of checkpoints,” he said. (AFP, DPA, Ha’aretz, Reuters)

In addition to his talks with senior Palestinian officials, US envoy Burns also held meetings with Prime Minister Sharon and Defence Minister Ben-Eliezer. Although Mr. Sharon’s office did not issue a statement after their meeting, Israeli media reported that the Prime Minister had in principle accepted the road map presented by Mr. Burns but had expressed reservations on several elements, particularly on the absence of “adequate security demands” on the Palestinians. He also had misgivings about the plan’s timetable and a clause calling for UN and EU supervision over its implementation. A statement by Mr. Ben-Eliezer’s office said he had stressed to Mr. Burns that Israel maintained its right to defend itself and would not agree to “limitations on that score by any particular `road map`”. (AFP, Reuters)

The IDF had arrested 18 Palestinians in overnight raids in the West Bank, including 12 in Qalqilya, Israeli military sources said. Most of those seized in Qalqilya were members of the PFLP, the sources said, adding they were suspected of involvement in attacks against Israelis. In a separate incident, Palestinian sources reported that a 16-year-old youth had been killed by IDF gunfire in Jenin. The IDF said in response that the youth had tried to climb a tank and the soldiers had shot him because they thought he was intending to plant an explosive device. (AFP)

A Palestinian delegation led by PA Minister and chief negotiator Saeb Erakat and also including PA Ministers Salam Fayad (Finance) and Hasan Al-Masri (Economy), along with West Bank security chief Haj Ismail, held talks in Tel Aviv with an Israeli delegation led by Foreign Minister Peres and also including Ministers Reuven Rivlin (Communications) and Dalia Itzik (Industry and Trade), as well as Finance Ministry Director-General Ohad Marani. Mr. Erakat said they had discussed political, security and economic issues “in detail” and had touched on the closure of Palestinian areas, freedom of movement, and Israel’s practice of collective punishment, such as destruction of houses. The Palestinian delegation had told their Israeli counterparts that “the basis for security” was the withdrawal from Palestinian areas and the handing over of responsibility completely to the PA, he said, adding that the two sides had agreed “to continue security meetings on the basis of a withdrawal from areas occupied by the Israeli army and we continue to discuss the withdrawal from Hebron”. An Israeli Foreign Ministry statement described the meeting as “serious and thorough”. “The Palestinians requested a joint security meeting ... and made several security requests which will be examined in a favourable light”, it said, adding that the two delegations had agreed to hold further meetings. It further said that the two sides had agreed to undertake a joint initiative to promote tourism to Bethlehem over the Christmas period. On the Palestinian request that Palestinian Council members be allowed to travel to Ramallah the following week to vote on a new PA Cabinet, Minister Rivlin said that 13 legislators suspected of terrorist activity would not be given travel permits. (AFP, Ha’aretz, Reuters)

Israeli guards had fired stun grenades and tear gas at Palestinians in the Ketziot military detention camp, in Israel’s southern Negev desert. A fire had broken out that had burned down several tents, inmates were quoted as having said by cell phone, adding that they believed there could be dozens injured. One inmate said the IDF had also fired on prisoners with rubber bullets. According to an IDF spokesman, a confrontation had started when three inmates, scheduled to be transferred to a different jail, had set fire to their tents, initiating a riot. Soldiers had regained control by firing a smoke grenade, the spokesman said, noting that nine inmates had been suffering from smoke inhalation, but there were no other injuries. Inmates said the clash was also to protest against conditions at the tent camp, where temperatures plummeted at night and there were not enough blankets. At least 1,000 Palestinians were reportedly detained in the camp, which had been reopened in April. About 260 of the detainees were serving sentences and the rest had not been charged. (AFP, DPA, Reuters)

Israeli troops had shot dead an armed Palestinian who had fired at a patrol in Rafah, an army spokeswoman said. Another Palestinian man, who had been wounded by Israeli tank fire, also in Rafah, the previous week, had died from his wounds, hospital sources said. (AFP, Reuters)

25

Hundreds of Israeli soldiers, backed by scores of tanks, other armoured vehicles and engineering forces, took control of Jenin. A senior IDF commander said “Operation Vanguard” was intended to root out about 20 militants planning attacks in the coming days. The operation was “an outgrowth” of last week’s suicide attack on an Israeli bus, the commander said, noting that Israeli intelligence had indicated that the bombing had “encouraged the terrorist cell in Jenin, which is now rearming and winning new recruits”. Other IDF officers said they were prepared for an indefinite stay in Jenin to prevent new attacks. According to witnesses, troops had commandeered 40 to 50 houses as stake-out posts in the town. Armoured vehicles and tanks made frequent rounds through the streets and soldiers exchanged fire sporadically with Palestinian gunmen. Bulldozers had dug trenches on Jenin’s main access roads and had begun destroying local headquarters of the Palestinian national security force. Palestinian hospital officials said six people had been shot and seriously injured, among them two 15-year-old boys. Soldiers had been shooting at anyone they saw on the streets, as they carried out house-to-house searches as the Israeli army enforced a curfew, security sources said. Men were rounded up at gunpoint in the streets for questioning, with some of them then taken away by the IDF. Chairman Arafat told reporters the new Jenin operation was “a continuation of the crimes committed by troops and settlers against our people and our children” and his advisor Nabil Abu Rudeineh noted that the military action “sabotaged US efforts regarding the ‘road map’ plan”. Defence Minister Ben-Eliezer said Jenin had become “the capital of terror”, where men and women suicide bombers came from to attack Israelis. (AFP, Reuters)

Palestinian officials expressed reservations on clauses contained in the “road map” presented to them by US envoy Burns, especially those demanding legal reforms, parliamentary elections and the appointment of a Palestinian Prime Minister. Palestinian Council speaker Ahmed Qurei (Abu Ala) demanded in an interview with Al-Ayyam that these clauses not be included in the final draft, while chief negotiator Saeb Erakat called them “interference in our internal affairs which is not acceptable”. (DPA)

According to an opinion poll published in Yediot Aharonot, 60 per cent of Israelis were in favour of immediately opening talks with the Palestinians on a peace accord, while 39 per cent were against. Seventy-eight per cent agreed Israel should accept the dismantling of settlements in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, against 20 per cent who were opposed. Also, 68 per cent said the IDF should protect Palestinian farmers harvesting their olives from attack by settlers, whereas 29 per cent were not in favour. The poll had been carried out by the Dahaf Institute, involving a representative sample of 502 Israelis, with a margin of error of 4.5 per cent. (AFP, The Jerusalem Post)

A few dozen settlers had rebuilt three of the metal plate structures that made up the “Havat Gilad” outpost, Israel Radio reported. The settlers, mostly youths, had returned to the outpost since its forced dismantling on 20 October. The dismantling of what the Israeli Government called “unauthorized” outposts in the West Bank had been postponed until the following week but Defence Minister Ben-Eliezer was nevertheless determined to push ahead with his plan to remove 24 of the 105 outposts in the West Bank, Ha’aretz reported. (DPA, Ha’aretz)

IDF bulldozers, trailers and jeeps had taken over a Palestinian area south of Gaza City, in an apparent attempt to set up a military post there, an AFP correspondent at the scene reported. Soldiers had fired shots at a group of journalists near the building site, next to the “Netzarim” settlement, where the IDF had a full-fledged base, the reporter said. An Israeli military source dismissed the information, saying only that the army was “improving the road for the Palestinian population there”. Arriving at the scene, PA security chief for the Gaza Strip General Abdel Razzeq Al-Majaida said the IDF was “constructing a new military base by ‘Netzarim’, close to the sea, which is very dangerous for the lives of civilians”. He added that the “Gaza Strip is now under occupation, tanks are around every town. With this, there will be no safe road from the north to the south of the Strip”, noting that this was “against agreements and understandings” between the two sides. In a separate incident, Israeli tanks had carried out a small incursion into Rafah, destroying a house there, security sources said. (AFP, DPA)

Palestinian residents of Hebron said that around a dozen military vehicles had been seen leaving their neighbourhoods and taking up positions in the Jewish enclave and on the outskirts of the city. The IDF confirmed it had completed a partial redeployment, adding that troops would remain in the Palestinian areas of Abu Sneineh and Harat al-Sheikh overlooking the Jewish enclave, as well as in the enclave itself. (AFP, DPA, Ha’aretz)

26

Israeli troops arrested 30 Palestinians in Jenin, on this second day of the city’s reoccupation by the IDF, codenamed “Operation Vanguard”. Soldiers took over 50 houses, imposed a curfew and destroyed the family homes of the two suicide bombers from Islamic Jihad who had blown up an Israeli bus on 21 October. Five Palestinians had been hit by machine-gun fire in the raid, Palestinian hospital and security sources said. (AFP)

A 13-year-old Palestinian from Rafah was killed and four others wounded in the Brazil refugee camp, when Israeli soldiers opened fire at a crowd throwing stones at bulldozers that were fortifying an IDF outpost in the area. (Ha’aretz)

27

Three Israeli soldiers were killed when a Palestinian suicide bomber triggered an explosion at a petrol station near the entrance of the “Ariel” settlement, about halfway between Ramallah and Nablus. At least fifteen more persons were wounded by the explosion, three of them seriously. The blast caused a small fire, which was quickly extinguished. The suicide attack was claimed both by Hamas and the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, who gave different names for the bomber. (AFP, DPA, Ha’aretz, The Jerusalem Post)

Soon after the suicide bomb attack at “Ariel”, a group of angry settlers attacked Palestinian olive pickers accompanied by international peace activists near the Palestinian village of Akrabeh and the settlement of “Itamar”, in the northern West Bank, some 30 kilometres from “Ariel”. The settlers hurled stones at the olive pickers and hit them with the butts of their rifles. Three international activists and an Israeli had to be taken to a nearby hospital. This had been the first time in a week that Palestinians had dared go back to their fields in that area, after having faced continuous settler violence, a spokesman for the International Solidarity Movement said. (AFP, The Jerusalem Post)

From Los Cabos, Mexico, US National Security Council Spokesman Sean McCormack, accompanying President Bush at an Asia-Pacific Summit held there, said the US “condemn[ed] terrorism and all acts of terrorism”, adding that it was “a tragedy whenever innocent life [was] lost” and stressing that it was “very important that the Palestinians do everything in their power to end acts of terror”. (Reuters)

Two Palestinian militants were killed in Nablus. Palestinian officials described the shooting as an assassination. An IDF spokesman said the troops had tried to detain militants, who had then opened fire. “The soldiers returned fire and in the exchange, two gunmen were killed and one was wounded”, the spokesman said, adding that a soldier had also been wounded. Palestinian witnesses said Israeli plainclothes forces driving a car with Palestinian licence plates had shot and killed the two men. (AFP, Reuters)

A Palestinian teenager was killed by an Israeli sniper in Jenin, under curfew since its reoccupation by the Israeli army on 25 October. The army announced it had arrested 57 Palestinians in the area since the start of the operation. (AFP)

28

A meeting of the Palestinian Council in Ramallah, at which Chairman Arafat was to announce his new Cabinet, was postponed after Israel had barred 13 Council members from the session. Ten Council members had been stopped at a Gaza Strip checkpoint, along with the PA Minister of Supplies, and two had been prevented from leaving Hebron, Palestinian officials said. “This is a clear indicator that the Israeli Government intends to destroy the Palestinian attempt to build a Government”, said chief Palestinian negotiator and PA Minister Saeb Erakat outside Chairman Arafat’s Ramallah office. Mr. Arafat’s adviser Nabil Abu Rudeineh said the Palestinians had coordinated travel arrangements with the Israelis on 27 October but Israel had “backtracked” from the agreement. According to the IDF, the travel ban was due to unspecified “security concerns”. (AP, Ha’aretz)

Speaking before the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee, Prime Minister Sharon had said Israel accepted the principles presented in the US “road map” for peace in the Middle East, but had added that a total settlement freeze would be unacceptable, Israel Radio reported. The Prime Minister had said that exceptions needed to be made in order to provide for the natural growth of the settlements. (Ha’aretz)

Five Palestinians had been injured in the Rafah refugee camp, in the southern Gaza Strip, as Israeli tanks, escorting bulldozers demolishing homes, had begun firing shells, Palestinian witnesses said. Six homes and the electricity, water and phone lines in the area had been destroyed, they added. The IDF said they were checking the report. (AP)

A 16-year-old Palestinian had been shot in the chest and killed when Israeli soldiers began firing at stone-throwers in Tulkarm, Palestinians said. The IDF did not immediately comment. (AP)

The Israeli army had been digging trenches around Jenin and Nablus, according to Bamachane, an IDF weekly magazine. Col. Yehuda Katorza, head of the IDF Central Command’s engineering unit, was quoted by the magazine as saying the trenches were designed to keep Palestinians from driving explosives-laden vehicles from these towns to Israel. Col. Katorza said previous efforts had been ineffective because the army had not completely encircled the towns and Palestinians had filled the ditches with dirt and drove over them. The intention this time was to encircle the towns completely with larger ditches, he said, but the effort had been slowed by a lack of sufficient bulldozers. “The Israelis are blocking every way for the Palestinians – they have blocked every single road, even unpaved roads through the hills”, said Nablus Governor Mahmoud Aloul, referring to both the ditches and previously existing checkpoints. “It’s another collective punishment”, he added. Jenin Governor Khaider Irshaid also confirmed that trenches were dug around the town, saying it had “become an island surrounded by soldiers in every direction”. Col. Katorza admitted the trenches would not stop Palestinian attacks from leaving the towns and cities on foot. (AP)

The European Commission had granted €29 million (about US$28.3 million) for “concrete initiatives in response to the worsening crisis and in support of the ongoing Palestinian reform process”, External Relations Commissioner Chris Patten said. The EU grant included €7 million for humanitarian aid operations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, €7 million for reform of the Palestinian judiciary, €5 million as emergency capital for Palestinian small businesses, and €10 million for the health sector. The aid was in addition to €237 million approved by the EU this month to fund UNRWA for the next four years. (AFP)

In a report on health conditions in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) called the collapse of the Palestinian health care system a human rights violation by the Israeli Government. Since the start of the Al-Aqsa intifada in September 2000, there had been 39 cases of babies born at roadblocks, around 600 instances of ambulances prevented from transporting the injured and sick, and about 140 attacks on ambulances and their medical teams, according to PHR. The report also pointed out that the number of stillbirths in the West Bank had risen by approximately 500 per cent and the number of babies born at home had nearly doubled. (DPA, Ha’aretz)

29

In a speech to the Palestinian Council, before naming his Cabinet, Chairman Arafat said he was extending his hand in “reconciliation to the Israelis to resume the peace process launched in Madrid in 1991.” “ We want to live as neighbours. Let us find a common ground for the security we desire, which you desire, for our common security,” he said, while condemning “terrorist operations against civilians anywhere in the world.” Mr. Arafat said his priorities in reforms were in the security, legal, educational and health sectors, noting that the new Cabinet would continue with these reforms, while a key task for it would be to prepare for presidential and legislative elections, which he said were still scheduled for 20 January 2003. Out of 85 current members of the Council, 79 participated in the session, 11 of them by video link-up from Gaza, after Israel had refused them travel permits, accusing them of involvement in anti-Israeli activities. (AFP, DPA, Ha’aretz, Reuters) The new Cabinet announced by Chairman Arafat was approved by the Palestinian Council with 56 votes in favour to 18 against. The Cabinet included four new ministers, for health, interior, justice and prisoners’ affairs. Three ministries were abolished: civil affairs, youth and sports, and telecommunications. Mr. Arafat also appointed a PLO Executive Committee official to a non-cabinet post in charge of Orient House, the PLO office in East Jerusalem. Below is the list of the new PA Cabinet members:
- Salam Fayad, Finance
An Israeli undercover unit had shot dead a senior Hamas member, as he was hiding in the attic of his house in the town of Tubas, north of Nablus, Israel Radio reported. Palestinians believed the IDF had removed the body afterwards. The radio reported that the man had organized the activities of Hamas in the northern West Bank and had sent suicide bombers to Israeli cities. In separate incidents, the IDF continued searches in Jenin for the fifth consecutive day. An Israeli commander said the IDF had uncovered four explosives laboratories during the searches. More then 10 Palestinians wanted for questioning had been arrested across the West Bank overnight. (DPA, The Jerusalem Post)

Israel Army Radio reported that shortly after the IDF had dismantled the settlement outpost of “Havat Gilad”, south of Nablus, for the second time in 10 days, twenty settlers had returned and began rebuilding the metal plate structures, which made up the outpost. The Israeli Defence Ministry said in a statement that if necessary the outpost would be evacuated again. (DPA)

Two teenage girls and a woman were killed by a Palestinian gunman who infiltrated the “Homesh” settlement, between Jenin and Nablus, late at night. The gunman, who reportedly came from Tulkarm, was later shot dead by settlers and soldiers. The attack was claimed by the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades. (AFP, DPA)

30

The new PA Cabinet held its first meeting in Chairman Arafat’s headquarters in Ramallah. A statement issued by the Cabinet said the PA “should continue its efforts to stop any actions that target [Israeli] civilians”. Speaking to reporters, the newly appointed Interior Minister Hani Al-Hassan said the PA would “strongly act to rebuild the security services”, adding that “a speedy programme” was ready and “everybody [would] notice the change”. However, he noted that “Security [for Israel] and occupation cannot coexist. If the occupation retreats, there will be security”. The Minister said Israel was ultimately responsible for the latest killing of Israelis by a Palestinian militant in the “Homesh” settlement, as “We in the West Bank and Gaza Strip are in a state of self-defence and whoever inflicts aggression on us, Palestinians have the right to resist him”. (Reuters)

Palestinian security officials said 15 Palestinians had been arrested overnight in an IDF raid into Beit Hanoun, in the northern Gaza Strip. Soldiers from a specialforces unit had injured one of the Palestinians, as he tried to flee and two houses had been destroyed in the operation, which ended at dawn. Israel Army Radio said five of the Palestinians arrested in Beit Hanoun were suspected of firing a home-made Qassam rocket on 28 October at the southern Israeli town of Sderot, just across the border from the Gaza Strip. The radio also reported the discovery of two tunnels in Rafah, on the border with Egypt, which were allegedly used for the smuggling of weapons into the Gaza Strip. Palestinian officials said seven houses had been destroyed and a mosque damaged in Rafah, when Israeli forces made a brief incursion into the town. In the West Bank, Israeli forces had detained some 20 wanted Palestinians, Israel Army Radio said. (AFP, DPA)

Reacting to attempts by Israeli settlers to harass Palestinian olive pickers, best-selling Israeli authors A.B. Yehoshua, Amos Oz, Meir Shalev and David Grossman toured villages in the West Bank and helped residents harvest their olives, Israel Radio reported. Writing in Ha’aretz, veteran Israeli commentator Ze’ev Schiff said the settler “robberies of Palestinian villagers’ olive harvests” were not just “another serious crime” but “For the first time in the current conflict, Israelis are stealing and confiscating Palestinian food. Even if they won’t admit it, it can be seen as laying the groundwork for Transfer [of the Palestinian population from the West Bank], not by the State but by a group of settlers.” “In Yanun, south of Nablus, most of the residents have already been forced to leave their homes”, Mr. Schiff wrote. (DPA, Ha’aretz)

Israeli Defence Minister and Labour Party leader Benjamin Ben-Eliezer handed in his resignation and was followed by Labour’s other Ministers. The reason given for quitting the Government was the 2003 austerity budget package, which would allocate some US$145 million in subsidies to Jewish settlements, instead of using these funds to improve the condition of the weaker sectors of Israeli society. The resignations would take effect in 48 hours. (AFP, Ha’aretz, Reuters, The Jerusalem Post)

A Palestinian police intelligence officer had been shot dead by the IDF near Nablus, Palestinian police said. The circumstances of the shooting were unclear. In a separate incident, a Palestinian had been shot dead near the settlement of “Ariel”. According to Israeli reports, the gunman had been killed after he had fired at a group of surveyors working on a security fence in the area. (AFP, DPA)

31

The IDF demolished four houses belonging to suspected Palestinian militants in Jenin. Two of the houses destroyed belonged to families of suicide bombers and two belonged to suspected militants wanted by Israel for attacks, the military said. The demolitions left at least 50 people homeless, Palestinians said. (AFP, DPA)

Three Palestinian children were wounded in the village of Tell, south-west of Nablus, when the IDF fired at stone-throwers, Palestinian witnesses said, adding that the incident occurred when the IDF troops entered the village to impose a curfew. (AFP)

An Israeli army officer had killed a Palestinian gunman in a roadside gunbattle close to the settlement of “Bet El”, north of Ramallah, the IDF said. The officer was in an unmarked car near the settlement when the gunman, posing as an olive picker, opened fired. A bullet tore through the windshield, hitting the officer’s driver in the hand and the officer returned fire, killing the gunman. A Palestinian ambulance had been hit by stray bullets in the middle of the shootout, leaving one person wounded, the IDF said. (AFP)

Following the resignation of the Labour Party from the Israeli coalition Government, former IDF Chief of General Staff Shaul Mofaz accepted Prime Minister Sharon’s offer to serve as his new Defence Minister. (AFP, DPA, Ha’aretz, The Jerusalem Post, Reuters)

* * *

Follow UNISPAL RSS Twitter