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Division for Palestinian Rights
31 July 2001
Chronological Review of Events Relating to the
Question of Palestine
Monthly media monitoring review
Israeli soldiers killed two Palestinians in an overnight clash near the city of Jenin. The Israelis said the two were shot when an Israeli army unit spotted a group of Palestinians placing a roadside bomb. Later in the day, Israeli helicopter gunships killed three suspected Palestinian militants, firing eight missiles on their car near Jenin. A 15-year-old Palestinian boy died of his wounds after having been shot on 29 June in clashes in the Gaza Strip, near the Karni crossing point.
(AFP, DPA, Reuters, XINHUA)
Referring to the targeted killing of three Palestinians the previous day, Chairman Arafat said that the Israeli attack was a flagrant violation of the ceasefire and demanded international protection. Mr. Arafat was talking to journalists in Gaza City, after a meeting with UN Special Coordinator Terje Rød-Larsen. Mr. Rød-Larsen
from his part said events of the last couple of days had shown how fragile the ceasefire was and suggested that all indications were that it would not hold. He strongly urged “all parties concerned to hold back” to avert a new crisis.
(AFP, EFE, Reuters)
Senior Palestinian negotiator and PA Minister Saeb Erakat met US Consul General Ron Schlicher and conveyed the “strongest protest against the Israeli Government’s crimes against the Palestinian people”, a Palestinian Authority statement said
In its first statement on the Middle East since it assumed the EU helm on 1 July, the new Belgian EU Presidency called on Israelis and Palestinians to avoid a fresh cycle of violence that would “seriously compromise” peace efforts. It condemned the latest outbreak of violence, saying “all acts of violence, no matter what they may be, are unjustifiable”.
In a statement released through his spokesman, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan urged those involved in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to exercise maximum restraint so that a total collapse of the ceasefire could be prevented. The Secretary-General also urged both sides to work with third parties towards implementation of the Mitchell Committee report recommendations.
US State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said it was “very important” that both Israelis and Palestinians worked to implement an immediate ceasefire. He said the US thought the Palestinians had not done enough to fight terror and to end the violence. At the same time the US remained opposed to Israel’s policy of targeted killings.
Senior Israeli and Palestinian security officials met in Tel Aviv under US auspices. The meeting ended without results.
(AFP, Reuters, XINHUA)
A Palestinian taxi driver, who had been shot in the chest by Israeli troops near the “Itamar” settlement in the vicinity of Nablus died of his wounds. The IDF had said he had been laying explosive devices on a road used by settlers. Israeli army experts later examined the suspicious package and found only vegetables purchases at the market.
Following a number of attacks, which resulted in the death of two Israelis within 24 hours in the West Bank, Prime Minister Sharon’s security decided not to change its policy of “restraint” towards the PA. It was decided, however, that certain measures aimed at preventing terror attacks would be intensified, in pursuit of a policy of “active self-defence”. An
report quoted a senior security source as saying that Prime Minister Sharon had instructed the IDF to act as in a guerrilla war and that the latter had started to carry out that policy.
(AFP, DPA, EFE, Ha’aretz-English Internet Edition, Reuters, XINHUA)
“The [Israeli] goal is to crush the Palestinians militarily”, Chairman Arafat told reporters in Cairo, after talks with Arab League Secretary-General Amre Moussa and following separate meetings the previous day with President Mubarak and Crown Prince Abdullah bin Abdel Aziz of Saudi Arabia in Alexandria. Mr. Arafat called on Israel to pull back its troops, lift its siege on the Palestinians and freeze its settlement activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, as stipulated by the Mitchell Committee report.
Foreign Minister Peres told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Security Committee that “the ceasefire is in a very deep crisis and we have to do everything to save it, because halting the ceasefire means more victims and more blood on both sides”. Mr. Peres also said that he would not be able to continue in his role if Israeli authorities kept on trying to “delegitimize” Chairman Arafat.
(AFP, Reuters, XINHUA)
Israeli troops demolished 30 Palestinian shops near Jenin, in an area where a Jewish settler woman had been shot dead the previous week, witnesses said. The bulldozed shops, near the border with Israel, had reportedly been popular among thousands of Arab Israeli shoppers
Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov phoned Chairman Arafat and Prime Minister Sharon urging them to stop the violence in the Middle East, his ministry said in a statement.
Russian Middle East envoy Andrei Vdovin told
that Russia's mission in the Middle East was to consolidate security accords between Palestinians and Israelis and persuade the sides to proceed to political talks. During this second tour of the Middle East, Mr. Vdovin met with the Israeli Foreign and Defence Ministers, Messrs. Peres and Ben-Eliezer, and later with Chairman Arafat, and other senior PA officials. Mr. Vdovin said Russia was not alone in its peacemaking efforts and kept in touch with other international and regional mediators, such as the US, the EU and the UN.
Senior Israeli and Palestinian religious leaders have been secretly meeting for nearly a decade in a bid to bring peace to the Middle East, Israel's Deputy Foreign Minister and head of the Israeli delegation at the secret talks Rabbi Michael Melchior told
A group of Jewish rabbis and Muslim imams had been meeting in Jerusalem and abroad, secretly backed by an unnamed European Government. Their goal, according to the paper, was to find a way for Israelis and Palestinians to live side by side, allowing Judaism and Islam to coexist. "Just as religion can be used as a weapon for those who want no solution and no compromise, so religion has the possibility to turn things around and bring a solution," Mr. Melchior told the paper. He said that no formal meetings had been held since the outbreak of the current
last September, but added that communication had gone on, even at "extremely difficult" times, and that both sides were backed by their political leaders, Prime Minister Sharon and Chairman Arafat. He added, that some crucial understandings had been reached during the meetings, which could one day form part of a settlement.
Following a meeting with Chairman Arafat in Ramallah, former Israeli Justice Minister Yossi Beilin called for the deployment of international observers to monitor the security situation in the region, saying it “would put an end to the violations of the ceasefire”.
Following an Israeli security cabinet meeting, it was officially decided to resume a policy of “active defence” against alleged militants who plan or attempt to carry out attacks against Israelis. Israeli opposition leader Yossi Sarid termed as "unacceptable" the Government's decision to continue its "liquidation policy" against Palestinians.
A Fatah activist, Hazem Natsheh, 22, wanted by Israeli authorities, was shot and suffered moderate wounds in Hebron. Palestinians said the two assailants were Israeli undercover troops.
The IDF overnight arrested four Palestinian activists suspected of involvement in a number of attacks,
Israel Public Radio
reported. The four men were arrested in the village of Marda, south of Nablus. A Palestinian security source said the IDF had entered an area under Palestinian control north of Hebron and fired on Force 17 members, but caused no casualties.
The following statement was issued by the Office of the Spokesman for UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan:
The Secretary-General is deeply disturbed by the reported decision of the Government of Israel to continue the practice of what have become known as “targeted assassinations”. This policy is contrary not only to international law, in particular human rights law, but also to general principles of law. Furthermore, it contradicts the spirit, if not the letter, of the ceasefire agreement recently negotiated by Central Intelligence Agency Director George Tenet. If not halted, it is bound to further aggravate the crisis of confidence between the parties and make an already extremely fragile situation even more precarious.
The Secretary-General appeals to the Government of Israel to stop this practice forthwith. There is no alternative to a political settlement of the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. To this end, the Secretary-General once again urges both sides to eschew violence, adhere to the security agreements already reached and re-initiate a viable political process by implementing the Mitchell report.
(UN Press Release SG/SM/7878 of 5 July 2001)
In an interview with
, Secretary of State Powell said the US expressed its “distress and opposition” to targeted killings of Palestinian activists by Israeli forces and would continue to do so. He said he kept “imploring both sides to do everything they can to restrain their passions, to keep from inciting the other side with statements and rhetoric and to do everything within their power to bring under control those who might be responsible, and are responsible, for violence and terrorism”.
A statement issued after the weekly meeting of the PA Cabinet chaired by Chairman Arafat in Ramallah, put forward a political initiative consisting of three major points: Both sides should immediately announce their commitment to implementing the recommendations of the Mitchell Committee report, such as a cooling-off period and confidence-building measures, taking them as a package and agreeing to a timetable for their quick implementation. Both sides should commit to ceasing all kinds of fire, attacks and other ceasefire violations. International observers would be nominated by a committee consisting of the US, the EU, Russia and the UN. These observers would monitor the ceasefire and verify the timetable for the Mitchell report implementation. The Cabinet statement urged the Israeli Government to accept this peace initiative “because it guarantees a balanced solution, brings about settlement and security for every Palestinian and Israeli and brings peace to the people in the region”. “The Palestinian Authority calls upon the US, UN, EU and Russia to deal seriously with the new Palestinian initiative, which does not differ from previous documents, understandings and agreements”, the statement said. The PA Cabinet made the proposals after what it said was the end of a seven-day test period of quiet brokered by Secretary of State Powell leading to implementation of the Mitchell plan. Israel has said the countdown never began as the violence has continued.
Israeli troops shot dead a 39-year-old Palestinian and wounded a 17-year-old, as the two were playing soccer in the West Bank town of Al-Bireh, near to the settlement of “Psagot”. A spokesman for Jewish settlers in the area said Palestinians had shot at the settlement and at a military jeep. Two Palestinians were wounded when Israeli heavy artillery opened fire on the Yebna refugee camp near Rafah, in the south of the Gaza Strip. In an overnight incident, Israeli police said it appeared that Israelis had shot at a Palestinian-registered car not far from the “Rimonim” settlement, northeast of Ramallah, injuring four Palestinians.
(AFP, DPA, Reuters)
In Paris, a spokeswoman for President Jacques Chirac quoted him as telling visiting Prime Minister Sharon that “weakening the President of the Palestinian Authority would be counterproductive”. Mr. Chirac had stressed that Israel and the Palestinians had to make “maximum efforts” to implement as rapidly as possible the Mitchell Committee recommendations. Earlier in the day in Berlin, Chancellor Gerhard Schröder had said at a joint news conference with Mr. Sharon that “as a friend, we advise more flexibility on the settlement issue”. Mr. Schröder assured Mr. Sharon that Germany respected Israel’s “security needs and right to self-determination”. He added, however, that long-term security could only be assured if peace and prosperity could be offered to all in the region “including the Palestinians”. Prime Minister Sharon said after the meeting that Israel was “ready to make large and painful concessions for peace” and assured Chancellor Schröder that the country was ready to fully accept the conditions of the Mitchell plan and the provisions of a US-brokered ceasefire agreed on 13 June, but he renewed his demand for “a total ceasefire” and the complete end of “terror, violence and agitation” before the recommendations could be implemented and talks could resume.
A Gallup poll of 600 Israelis for the daily
indicated that 82 per cent doubted a complete ceasefire could be reached soon, while 13 per cent believed it was achievable. If there was a ceasefire, 56 per cent of those polled said they would favour a total freeze on Jewish settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, as called for under the Mitchell Committee recommendations, while 37 per cent would be opposed. 51 per cent said they backed a unilateral pullout of some settlements as part of plans to separate the territory of the Israelis and the Palestinians, while 38 per cent said they were against such a move. 73 per cent said that Israel should retaliate for Palestinian attacks with a similar level of “severity” as the original incident, while 21 per cent of respondents opposed such retaliation.
Prime Minister Jospin said Israel was not realistic in requesting Palestinians to end all forms of violence before the restart of a political process in the Middle East. France feared that “the demand [of Israel] will never be satisfied, while the chance for peace wanders away and the situation gets more dangerous”, Mr. Jospin told visiting Prime Minister Sharon, adding that security and the destiny of Israel depended on its reconciliation with the peoples in the region. France was extremely concerned about terrorist threats in the Middle East but also about the fact that the Palestinians should have an existence that was at least tolerable, Mr. Jospin stressed, reiterating his support for Chairman Arafat as an “interlocutor” and “partner” for reaching peace in the region. From his part, Mr. Sharon told reporters that it was evident there was no agreement with the French Government over all issues but there was an “understanding”.
(AFP, Reuters, XINHUA)
The Council of Jewish Communities in Judea, Samaria and Gaza denied reports that they had struck an agreement with Defence Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer regarding the voluntary evacuation of outposts set up in recent months in the West Bank. “No agreement was reached regarding the encampments but Ben-Eliezer’s statements may relate to a unilateral decision he made and neglected to inform us of”, said council spokesman Yehoshua Mor-Yosef. Regarding yesterday’s civilian evacuation of an outpost in the West Bank, council officials stressed that the agreement with settlers there was based on the understanding that soldiers would remain at the site and did not represent the council’s policy regarding the rest of the outposts.
(The Jerusalem Post )
A US-brokered meeting between Israeli and Palestinian security officials held in Tel Aviv ended with the two sides giving differing assessments of the talks. While Israeli officials said that progress had been made, the Palestinian said in a statement that the meeting had produced "no progress because of Israel's violation of the ceasefire". Both parties agreed to hold further talks in a week and to set up a joint body to oversee the implementation of the ceasefire on the ground, Israeli security sources said. But Israel insisted that the initiative would only come into force after a complete end in hostilities.
The IDF shot and wounded at least 21 Palestinians during clashes with stone-throwing crowds in several towns in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
reported that eight Palestinians were injured, two critically, in Gaza City when IDF opened fire to disperse dozens of Palestinian stone- throwers near the Karni passage. The radio added that 13 Palestinians were wounded by rubber-coated-metal bullets during clashes with Israeli troops in Ramallah, Hebron and the village of Al-Khader. The IDF also opened fire with rubber bullets and tear gas canisters at two funerals to disperse mourners, who threw stones at the IDF. The Fatah movement issued a statement calling the Hebron shooting and serious wounding of Sharif Quneibi an “assassination attempt” undertaken with the approval of the Israeli Government
. (DPA, The Jerusalem Post)
Senior Advisor to Chairman Arafat, Nabil Abu Rudeineh warned that a catastrophe was in the works if Israel did not take immediate steps to implement the Mitchell report. Mr. Rudeineh blamed Prime Minister Sharon of stalling the Mitchell peace plan and said delays were only fanning the flames of unrest and pushing the region into chaos.
reported that Israeli soldiers had shot and killed an 11-year-old Palestinian boy during clashes at Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip. Another two Palestinian boys, one 10-year-old and the other 13, were seriously injured after they were shot in the abdomen by the IDF in Jenin.
(DPA, Comtex Scientific Corporation, Reuters)
Israeli and Palestinian intellectuals, writers and other public figures called for the immediate resumption of the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks with no prior conditions. The call was made during a meeting held between Jerusalem and Ramallah, which was co-chaired by former Israeli Justice Minister Yossi Beilin and PA Information and Culture Minister Yasser Abed Rabbo. The meeting was reportedly the first large-scale dialogue of its kind since September 2000 and some 50 Israeli and Palestinian intellectuals attended.
Israeli undercover agents abducted an activist of the Hamas in Hebron. The Palestinian was taken from a vehicle about one kilometre inside the Palestinian-controlled territory.
Seven Palestinians, five of them women, were taken to hospital after violent confrontations in the village of Nabi Saleh, north of Ramallah, with the IDF, who beat up villagers and fired tear gas. One man was also hit in the chest by a stun grenade, medical sources said. The pre-dawn raid took place as the Palestinian residents of the village tried to prevent the IDF from seizing a house to set up an army post. The IDF also arrested two residents of the village. The IDF said it took over the house due to a string of Palestinian shooting attacks against Israeli motorists in the area
. (AFP, XINHUA)
Bulldozers of the Jerusalem municipality demolished at least 13 Palestinian homes in the Shu'fat refugee camp on the northern outskirts of the city, saying the homes had been built without the necessary permits. The demolitions took place less than 24 hours after demolition orders had been delivered to a total of 25 home-owners. At least half a dozen Palestinians, including women, were injured, when Israeli borderguards beat protestors with their batons and rifle butts, witnesses and officials from the Palestinian Red Crescent said. Police also removed a number of Israeli human rights activists trying to bar the way of the bulldozers.
(AFP, DPA, The Jerusalem Post)
In a joint open letter Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch called for the urgent deployment of international observers to monitor Israeli and Palestinian human rights and humanitarian law violations, and asked the US, the EU and UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to take steps to facilitate the establishment and deployment of such observers. The letter further stated: "We completely agree with the Mitchell Committee's conclusion that peace and security must be built on respect for international law and the protection of human rights. Independent observation of what is happening on the ground is essential, and only the international community can provide this."
(Comtex Scientific Corporation)
State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said that the US was “deeply troubled” over the upsurge in violence, including the killing of an IDF officer at a roadside bomb explosion near Hebron. He said the US “particularly deplore[d]” the death of an 11-year-old” Palestinian boy on 7 July, adding that the Israeli Government had said they would conduct an enquiry into the circumstances of this “tragic death”. Mr. Boucher said Washington wanted both parties “but particularly the Palestinians, to stop the violence the way people are committed to do so in the Mitchell process”. He criticized the destruction by Israel of several Palestinian homes and said the US had urged the Israeli side “on numerous occasions” to desist from such actions, which he said were “provocative and undermine[d] relations between the parties and [could] only make more difficult efforts to restore calm”.
(AFP, DPA, Reuters, XINHUA)
The Belgian EU presidency expressed the Union’s concern over the demolition of Palestinian houses in Jerusalem and urged all sides to avoid provocative actions. In a statement, it called upon the Israeli authorities to “put an immediate end to such activities” which risked complicating international efforts to breathe new life into the Middle East peace process. The EU “urges all sides to assume their responsibilities and abstain from all statements and unilateral actions that might be construed as provocation”, the statement added. Speaking in the European Parliament, Belgian Foreign Minister Louis Michel said the EU must play a bigger role in the search for peace in the Middle East, in close collaboration with the United States. “The Middle East remains a major zone of instability that Europe cannot ignore”, he said, adding that “Everyone awaits a European contribution – not just financial, but also political support to restart the process of negotiations”.
Israeli bulldozers destroyed more than 20 Palestinian houses and several shops inside the Rafah refugee camp in the southern Gaza Strip, leaving scores of Palestinians homeless. Six Palestinians and three Israeli soldiers were wounded in an hours-long exchange of fire that followed. “We will seek Arab and international efforts to stop these crimes”, Chairman Arafat said in Ramallah upon arrival from Amman. The IDF said it had demolished unoccupied buildings in a zone under its control that it charged were being used as cover for attacks against military posts. PA Gaza Security Chief Abdel Razeq Al-Majeida, said Israel had launched “a savage attack against a Palestinian refugee camp under full Palestinian control in a new campaign to destroy more houses and to terrorise innocent residents”.
“We are deeply troubled by the Israeli entry into Palestinian-controlled areas and the demolition of Palestinian homes in Jerusalem and Rafah over the last two days”, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher told a regular briefing in Washington. He said US diplomats in the region had been in contact with the Israeli Government “at the highest levels in the last 24 hours” to urge “an immediate halt to any further demolition of Palestinian homes and destruction of Palestinian property”. “Actions such as these demolitions are highly provocative, they undermine confidence and trust between the parties”, Mr. Boucher said, adding that “They can only make it much more difficult to restore calm”.
Israeli Public Radio
, Foreign Minister Peres met secretly with Palestinian Council Speaker Ahmed Qurei. Mr. Qurei told Mr. Peres that Chairman Arafat intended to work towards restoring calm in the region, the radio said.
The Israeli Foreign Ministry refused to confirm or deny that such a meeting took place and Palestinian officials could not be immediately reached for comment.
The Islamic Development Bank (IDB) announced it had released US$54 million in new aid for the PA. The IDB said US$30 million of the aid represented the fourth of the six monthly installments worth US$180 million pledged in March during the latest Arab summit in Amman. The aid was delivered in the form of a loan paid directly to the PA to “help it respond to the fundamental needs of the Palestinian people in resisting Israel”. The IDB added that a further US$24.15 million in emergency aid was released to help repair 80 kilometres of roads and hospital facilities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said at a news conference in Lusaka, where he was attending the OAU summit, that he had met Chairman Arafat and had spoken by telephone with Prime Minister Sharon, “to discuss the situation on the ground and to urge them to really move ahead with the implementation of the Mitchell plan”.
French Foreign Ministry Spokesman François Rivasseau said that Foreign Minister Védrine was “convinced that an impartial mechanism of international monitoring [of the ceasefire] between the Israelis and the Palestinians would be necessary”, noting that it would be in the interest of both parties. He said it marked a change in the policy of France, which previously had viewed neutral observers as “useful” but not “necessary”.
The Palestinian Council, in a statement carried by
urged foreign parliaments to help end “Israeli threats” against Chairman Arafat and condemned Israel’s demolition of Palestinian homes.
German Chancellor Schröder said after meeting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Berlin that the Mitchell Report was the “central instrument” towards reaching peace in the Middle East.
A 30-year-old Palestinian woman, Furial Idris, gave birth in a car at a roadblock northeast of Nablus. The woman and her family were en route to the hospital, when they were delayed for two-hours at the roadblock. The newborn infant was dead on arrival at the Shifa Hospital. A 49-year-old Palestinian man, Muhammad Khalifa, from Jenin, died of a heart attack when an ambulance taking him to a hospital was held up for an hour at a roadblock. Israeli military officials said they were investigating the Palestinian claims.
British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw in a statement called Israel’s demolition of Palestinian houses in Jerusalem and Rafah “provocative”. The statement further said that there was “a clear risk that such actions could inflame an already volatile situation”. Mr. Straw also pointed out in the statement that Israel’s actions “raise the temperature on the ground and undermine the efforts of those who are working to re-build the basis for peace between Israelis and Palestinians”.
Foreign Minister Peres told
Israeli Public Television,
that Chairman Arafat wanted to stop terrorism because he was in a desperate situation and needed to take international public opinion and Palestinian economic difficulties into account. When asked about Israeli threats on the Palestinian leader reported by the Israeli press, Mr. Peres said “Yasser Arafat is the genuine representative of the Palestinian people for its ambitions, disappointments, successes and weaknesses”. "If we attempt to delegitimise Yasser Arafat, half of the countries in the world would blindly support him”. The Foreign Minister also again criticised the Israeli blockade imposed on the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Israeli soldiers shot and fatally injured a Palestinian woman, Rasmieh el-Jabarin, a 38-year-old mother of two, while chasing a vehicle transporting women workers from Hebron to towns in southern Israel. The woman was hit in the head and died on the way to hospital. According to
the IDF fired on the vehicle they had been chasing after the driver refused an order to pull over at a check-point south of Hebron.
(AFP, DPA, Ha’aretz, Reuters, The Jerusalem Post)
The Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Alexander Yakovenko said in a press briefing that Israelis and Palestinians “should unconditionally refrain from any actions that could undermine the efforts taken by different sides, including by Russia, to stop the Palestinian-Israeli confrontation”. “The Russian co-sponsor [of the peace process] is of the opinion that it is important to seek a comprehensive Arab-Israeli settlement, including the returning of the occupied Golan Heights to Syria,” Mr. Yakovenko said. He described the situation around Palestinian areas as extremely complex. “In these conditions, one cannot but be concerned by the destruction by the Israeli army of several tens of houses in the Gaza Strip and on the West Bank of the Jordan river,” he said. Whatever the motivation was for such acts, “they can only lead to the build-up of tension, make still more difficult the restoration of trust between the sides, which is so necessary for implementation of the normalisation programme on the basis of the Mitchell plan” Mr. Yakovenko added.
(Comtex Scientific Corporation)
The Arab Parliamentary Union gathered for an extraordinary session in the Yemeni capital of Sanaa to show its solidarity with the struggle of the Palestinian people.
(Comtex Scientific Corporation)
The following statement was issued by the Spokesman for the United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan:
The Secretary-General believes that actions such as the demolition of Palestinian homes which took place on 9 and 10 July only aggravate the already extremely tense situation in the occupied Palestinian territory. He strongly urges the Israeli authorities to halt such activities.
The Secretary-General reiterates his appeal to both sides to exercise maximum restraint, cease the violence and re-initiate the peace process by implementing the Mitchell report.
(UN Press Release SG/SM/7887 of 11 July 2001)
Israeli and Palestinian security officials met overnight in Ramallah under US auspices. The meeting ended with no result.
Israeli Army Radio
the CIA representative at the meeting said talks had broken down in disagreement.
US Secretary of State Powell, speaking at a joint news conference with British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw in Washington, urged an all-out effort to stop Middle East violence. He called on Israelis not to take “provocative” steps, including demolishing Palestinian homes and expansion of settlements, and called on the Palestinians to do what they could to stop attacks on Israeli targets
. (DPA, Reuters)
Canadian Foreign Minister John Manley said he feared the current violence between Israelis and Palestinians could escalate and called on both sides to show restraint and to eventually try to get back to the negotiating table
At the end of a one-day meeting held in the city of Jeddah, the Foreign Ministers of the Gulf Cooperation Council warned against keeping silent over the escalating situation in the Middle East, which was threatening regional security and stability. After reviewing the deteriorating situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, they emphasized the urgency of putting an end to the Israeli aggressions against the Palestinians, and called for the deployment of an international force to monitor the volatile areas. The meeting, which was called by Saudi Arabia, also urged an immediate lifting of the Israeli closures. The Foreign Ministers called on the Arab Follow-up Committee, established at the emergency Arab summit, held last October in Cairo, to hold an urgent meeting to discuss the situation in the Palestinian areas, as well as looking into the possibility of holding an emergency meeting of the Arab League
The Jerusalem Post
, Israeli military and political officials were now openly debating the possibility of a military invasion of the Palestinian-controlled areas of the West Bank and Gaza Strip aimed at crushing the PA and ending the rule of Chairman Arafat. “The army has plans to cover all the possibilities, but what counts is the cabinet decisions,” said Raanan Gissin, spokesman for Prime Minister Sharon. He added, “There are three options: surrender to Arafat, to go ahead with this plan, to occupy, or to continue the current course of restraint and self-defense. The Government has said it’s committed to peace, but this situation can not last forever.” (
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, speaking to reporters after talks with German Defence Minister Rudolf Scharping in Berlin, said he had suggested that European countries discuss the possibility of a monitoring mission for the Middle East as well as the establishment of a timetable for the implementation of the Mitchell plan. Mr. Annan said both Israelis and Palestinians had to make a real effort to stop the escalation of violence in the region but that neither side seemed to trust the other. “I have the sense that they will need some international help to do it [implement the plan],” Annan said. “I think that left to themselves that, given the depth of mistrust, it would not happen as quickly as we would want to see it happen,” he added. German media reported that Germany and France were behind a move to send international monitors to the Middle East, but Mr. Annan said he was not familiar with any such joint plan.
The IDF unleashed tank and machine-gun fire on Palestinian police posts in Nablus, killing one policeman and wounding seven. The IDF fired more than 10 tank shells at two Palestinian posts near Nablus, one belonging to the Palestinian military intelligence and one to the Palestinian public security, the Governor of Nablus Mahmoud El Aalol said.
Israel Army Radio
reported that the IDF also made an incursion of several hundred metres into Palestinian-controlled territory and took control briefly of a hill overlooking the road to the “Bracha” settlement, south of Nablus. Israel said the shelling and army incursion were a reaction to an attack on the road to “Bracha” early in the morning, when gunmen, firing from a passing car shot and wounded three members of an Israeli family. In retaliation, settlers stormed a Palestinian village near Nablus, beating up residents, pelting cars with stones and setting fire to olive trees. Similar attacks were carried out by settlers in the Hebron area where eight Palestinians were wounded. The settlers also set fire to houses and agricultural land witnesses said.
(AFP, DPA, The Jerusalem Post, Reuters)
Prime Minister Sharon at a press conference in Rome said that “the Israeli Government’s policy from now on is to respond on the ground to Palestinian attacks”, and that “the reply would be immediate and precise.” Mr. Sharon said the decision had been made at an Israeli security cabinet meeting and subsequently at government level over the past ten days. He added that it would not be an automatic response. (
AFP, The Jerusalem Post)
In a telephone call, Secretary Powell told Prime Minister Sharon that action was needed from both sides to stop the violence. Mr. Powell said that “the time is now” to halt spiraling Middle East violence, according to State Department Spokesman Richard Boucher. “The Secretary, once again, emphasized the importance of immediate action on both sides to prevent any further deterioration on the ground,” he said, and added that the US has “never given any kind of green light for any Israeli military action,” stressing that Prime Minister Sharon himself reportedly rejected the “invasion option”, which had been reported in the press.
The Palestinian Authority urged the US to stop Israeli attacks on Palestinian installations in Area A and in Nablus, and the demolition of Palestinian homes, a PA security officer said. The PA also demanded that Israel apologize to and compensate the Palestinian families whose homes they demolished this week.
(DPA, The Jerusalem Post)
Prime Minister Sharon had sent his son Omri to meet Chairman Arafat in Ramallah the previous day. Mr. Sharon told reporters he had instructed his son to convey to Chairman Arafat “the absolute need to stop the terror and violence as a condition for the continuation of the diplomatic process.”
reported that another meeting between the two took place today. No details were made known.
(Comtex Scientific Corporation, Reuters)
The IDF launched a pre-dawn attack into the Palestinian-controlled area of Hebron, shelling buildings and leaving 17 people wounded. Troops backed by armoured vehicles destroyed an outpost of Chairman Arafat’s Force 17, as well as a Palestinian checkpoint in Hebron. Three Force 17 members were wounded in that attack. Fourteen other Palestinians were hurt by Israeli shelling and machine-gun fire. Electricity to the city was cut during the operation. The attack came in response to Palestinians shooting and killing a settler the previous day in the West Bank.
A Palestinian member of the Hamas in the town of Tulkarm was killed by a remote-controlled car bomb. Hamas said the man was killed when a car he was walking by exploded, attributing his death to another targeted killing by the IDF.
Chairman Arafat met US Envoy and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs, David Satterfield. There was no official statement after the meeting. Mr. Satterfield had met earlier in the day with Foreign Minister Peres, who had reportedly asked the US to prepare for new security talks between the two sides.
The IDF and settlers vandalised Palestinian houses and cars overnight in Hebron. Witnesses said Israelis from the “Kiryat Arba” settlement pelted neighbouring Palestinian houses with stones after around 2,000 Palestinians staged a late night rally. The IDF also slashed the tires of Palestinian taxis, they said.
An unscheduled one-hour meeting between Foreign Minister Peres and Chairman Arafat took place in Cairo. Mr. Peres left the meeting insisting that Israel would not negotiate while the violence continued. He said, however, that he had agreed with Chairman Arafat that they would maintain regular contact and strengthen cooperation on the security and civilian levels.
(Ha'aretz, Financial Times Limited)
The Israeli Government decided to build new Jewish communities in the Halutza dunes in southern Negev area, a move effectively ending the chance for the area to be given to the Palestinians in a possible future land swap for settlement blocks in the West Bank. (Such a deal was raised as an option by former Prime Minister Barak during the Camp David talks).
(AFP, The New York Times)
The Secretary General of the Arab League, Amre Moussa, arrived in Saudi Arabia for a brief visit before flying on to Kuwait for talks on the situation in the Palestinian areas. Earlier in the day he met with Russia’s Middle East Envoy Andrei Vdovin in Cairo and told reporters he had asked “Russia to adopt a less ambiguous stand on Israeli practices against the Palestinians, especially with an international consensus condemning the Israeli policy of a blockade, assassination and destruction of homes.”
(AFP, DPA, Reuters)
Five disguised Israeli soldiers kidnapped a senior Palestinian activist in Bethlehem. The Israel Defence Forces’ spokesman’s office confirmed the arrest. The Palestinians called the kidnapping “a serious violation of the ceasefire [between the two sides] and of Palestinian sovereignty”.
Russia’s Middle East Envoy Andrei Vdovin called for international cooperation to a halt the spiral of Israeli-Palestinian violence. Mr. Vdovin told reporters after a meeting with President Mubarak in Cairo that “International coordination is needed between the parties involved in order to reach a formula that allows for getting out of this spiral of violence”. He recalled that Russia had called for a long time to find a formula allowing for the presence of international observers. He said Russia was continuing to maintain the same position.
Two young Israeli soldiers, a man and a woman, were killed when a Palestinian blew himself up in the northern Israeli town of Binyamina.
Israeli Public Television
said that 11 people were also wounded, two of them seriously, in the attack at a railway station bus stop. Defence Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer immediately convened a meeting with top military officials, according to the
Israeli Army Radio
. The Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the bombing in a statement sent to
in Beirut. The Palestinian Authority in an official statement condemned the attack. “The Palestinian leadership expresses its condemnation of the incident which led to the killing of civilians and calls for a cessation of all violent actions and incitement by all parties,” and reiterated its “commitment to the ceasefire decision” while urging the implementation of the Mitchell plan, the statement further said. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Sharon held Chairman Arafat responsible for the bombing saying “the suicide attack in Binyamina shows that the Palestinian Authority has not yet decided to fight or act against terrorism”.
At least 30 Palestinians were injured when Israeli tanks shelled areas in Hebron,
reported. The shelling damaged four positions of the Palestinian Force 17 and the Communications Ministry's headquarters. Israeli troops and tanks made a brief incursion into the Palestinian-controlled area, advancing between 500 to 1,000 metres from various directions. The IDF justified its action by saying Palestinian gunmen had fired at its soldiers from four Palestinian positions in the city throughout the night. Palestinians said a 14-year-old Palestinian boy died as a result of a heart attack triggered by the offensive. The boy, who suffered from heart problems, panicked when the shelling started.
(AFP, DPA, The Jerusalem Post, Reuters)
An Israeli tank and four jeeps entered 300 metres inside Palestinian territory near Tulkarm, firing shells on a checkpoint manned by members of Force 17. The post was seriously damaged and one civilian suffered moderate injuries.
reported the shelling was in retaliation for a shooting attack in the area earlier in the day, in which two Israelis were slightly wounded.
The Palestinian people are facing famine and their “strategic food stocks” are quickly diminishing as a result of the Israeli blockade, Palestinian Minister of Economy and Trade Maher Al-Masri told the Jordanian newspaper
in a telephone interview.
Palestinian West Bank Preventive Security Chief Mr. Jibril Rajoub had urged militants not to wage attacks inside Israel, saying they did not serve the interests of the Palestinians. “I hope that the Palestinian political factions would have a sense of responsibility and maturity regarding actions inside Israel and that these would stop because it is not in our interests, it does not serve us,” Mr. Rajoub told
Voice of Palestine Radio
. “On the contrary, it serves [Prime Minister] Sharon and the Israeli radical right," he added. He made his comments after Israeli police said two Palestinians were killed preparing a bomb near the site for the opening ceremony of the Maccabiah Games.
(AFP, DPA, Reuters)
Chairman Arafat on his return to Gaza, following his meeting in Cairo with Foreign Minister Peres said that “things are still complicated,” while adding he hoped the situation would improve. Chairman Arafat said that any future meeting with the Israeli Foreign Minister was dependent on “progress” being made. Mr. Arafat met in Gaza with the Russian and European Union envoys for the Middle East, Andrei Vdovin and Miguel Angel Moratinos respectively, as well as with Terje Rød-Larsen, the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East
According to the Head of Palestinian Special Services in the Gaza Strip, Mohammed Dahlan, Chairman Arafat has agreed to create a government of national unity with the participation of the HAMAS movement and the Islamic Jihad, as well as the opposition party, the People’s and the Democratic Front. (
Comtex Scientific Corporation)
EU Foreign Ministers said in a statement on the Middle East that “a third-party monitoring mechanism [was] needed in order to overcome any obstacles that might impede the application of the recommendations [made by the Mitchell report]. It would serve the interests of both parties”. The statement added that the Mitchell report’s recommendations should be “immediately and fully implemented”, and warned that “the current situation between Israelis and Palestinians [was] very dangerous for the two peoples and for the stability of the region”. (DPA)
King Fahd of Saudi Arabia warned that continuous Israeli atrocities against the Palestinians would plunge the “whole region into a dangerous phase”. “The King underscored the risks of the irresponsible Israeli escalation in Palestine at a time the international community was exerting efforts for peace,” Information Minister Fuad al-Faresi said following a cabinet meeting. (AFP
Swedish Foreign Minister Anna Lindh urged Israel to stop killing suspected Palestinian militants, saying extra judicial executions had no place in a democratic society. In a written response to a question posed in the Swedish parliament, Ms. Lindh also said that “extra judicial executions are a serious violation of the right to life guaranteed by Article Six of the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights, and of the guarantees in the same convention regarding the right to an impartial trial for people suspected of crimes." (AFP)
Jordanian Prime Minister Ali Abu Ragheb said his country would “prevent” a new influx of Palestinians. “We will take all necessary measures to prevent it for political, demographic and social reasons,” Mr. Abu Ragheb told members of the Foreign Correspondents’ Club in Amman during a meeting. Mr. Abu Ragheb explained that Jordan lacked the resources for an influx of Palestinian refugees. “I believe the Palestinians will not leave their country but we are watching things very closely,” he said.
“In response to the attack in Binyamina, the Israeli army attacked four Palestinian positions in the northern West Bank,” an IDF source told
. Palestinian witnesses reported that Israeli tanks shelled the Palestinian-controlled towns of Tulkarm and Jenin. There were no reports of injuries.
In response to the bomb attack in Binyamina, State Department Spokesman Richard told reporters that the US called upon “the Palestinian leadership to unambiguously condemn this heinous act and take steps to bring to justice those responsible for actions such as these”. He also said, “in addition we encourage the Israeli Government to exercise continued restraint. There can be no military solution to this conflict”.
(AFP, Ha’aretz, Financial Times Limited, Reuters)
In a letter sent to Secretary of State Powell, Prime Minister Sharon defended Israel’s demolition of Palestinian homes. Mr. Sharon wrote that in the Rafah area where Israel demolished homes, “there was uninterrupted shooting at our forces inside an area under full Israeli control.” Mr. Sharon said that in Rafah the Palestinians had formed a network of underground tunnels to smuggle in illegal weapons and ammunition. When Chairman Arafat failed to intervene to stop the shooting and the smuggling, Israel was forced to act, he said. He added that demolitions in the Jerusalem area “fall under the category of law enforcement by the municipal authorities”.
(The Jerusalem Post)
An Israeli helicopter gunship fired air-to-surface missiles on Palestinian houses in Bethlehem, killing four Palestinians whom the IDF termed as “terrorists”. The Palestinian Authority described the air raid as an “act of war”. Among the dead were local leaders of the Hamas.
(AFP, Comtex Scientific Corporation)
The US again called on Israelis and Palestinians to stop their violent confrontations. “It’s within the power of the parties to bring the level of the violence down,” State Department Spokesman Philip Reeker said. “Both sides need to continue to make a maximum effort. We need to see the violence reduced”.
Referring to the upcoming G-8 Summit in Genoa on 20-23 July 2001, Chairman Arafat told journalists in Gaza City said that he hoped that “the next G8 summit [would] permit an international action for preserving the peace process”. He called specifically on European countries to intervene to “stop the intensive shelling against the towns of Beit Jala and Beit Sahur, near Bethlehem”. While referring to the “European advisors” sent by the EU to help the Palestinian Authority supervise the ceasefire, Mr. Arafat said the presence of European observers had succeeded in maintaining calm in this sector" over the past few weeks.
The UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East, Terje Rød-Larsen told
from the sidelines of the Madrid meeting that there was still hope for peace in the Middle East despite rising violence over the last 24 hours. “The peace process has shown it is sometimes like a roller-coaster, with ups and downs...after a major crisis usually comes a success.” He added, “I think this time it can be like this. Even if there is more bloodshed in the next days, I think we can move forward”. He called on both sides to “prevent the unravelling of the [peace] process and bring the Israelis and Palestinians together in order to reach an agreement that could bring demonstrable benefits to both sides”. He noted, however, that the current ceasefire between Israelis and Palestinians was “very fragile” and months of violence had fuelled a climate of mutual suspicion.
Israeli police clashed with Palestinians in East Jerusalem, but no casualties were reported after Israeli Public Security Minister Uzi Landau banned a memorial ceremony for Palestinian leader Faisal Husseini. Palestinians said the gathering, at Orient House would go ahead, despite the Israeli ban. Members of the diplomatic corps, representatives of the Christian and Muslem community, members of the Israeli Knesset and peace activists were invited to attend the ceremony. Palestinian lawyer, Jawad Boulos told
that Orient House had already received a permit for the service and that it had appealed to the Israeli Public Security Ministry to reverse its decision. The Palestinian civil rights group MIFTAH, headed by Hanan Ashrawi, appealed to the international community to intervene to stop such “coercive Israeli measures”, saying “it [the ban] is a glaring violation of the Palestinian people’s right to assemble in their own city, in memory of an outstanding leader and a remarkable man of peace.”
(AFP, DPA, Comtex Scientific Corporation, XINHUA)
The Palestinian Minister of Local Government, and senior negotiator, Saeb Erakat following talks in Cairo with the Arab League Secretary-General Amre Moussa, called on the Arab countries to coordinate their stances on Israel. He said, “the Arab countries should make concerted efforts to support the Palestinian demand for halting Israeli aggressions against them”.
According to official Palestinian sources, Chairman Arafat met with Palestinian militants groups and warned them not to carry out attacks inside Israeli territory, and to respect the Israeli-Palestinian ceasefire.
Russian Foreign Ministry’s official spokesman Alexander Yakovenko urged the Israelis and Palestinians not to yield to extremist attempts to disrupt the Middle East peace process. (
Comtex Scientific Corporation)
According to Palestinian sources, the IDF seriously wounded a 10-year-old Palestinian girl when they opened fire as they entered the West Bank Palestinian-controlled village of Dura. Israeli military officials denied any action by their soldiers in the area
. (Comtex Scientific Corporation).
The Israeli head of Shin Beth, Avraham Dichter told the Israeli Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Commission that there was a Jewish terrorist cell operating in the southern West Bank,
Israeli Public Radio
said. According to the
, there have been at least three attacks on Palestinian targets attributed to a group operating out of Halhoul, north of Hebron.
The IDF deployed military reinforcements in the West Bank. Troops and tanks were sent to various parts of the West Bank including around Bethlehem,
reported. According to military sources, the reinforcements were sent in defence against possible Palestinian retaliation for the deaths of the four Palestinians, killed in Israeli helicopter raids on Bethlehem on 17 July. The Israeli forces would enter zones under Palestinian control if necessary, the sources added. Palestinian witnesses also said that Israeli bulldozers had arrived in the sector. The Palestinians warned that the Israeli build-up was a “dangerous escalation”.
(AFP, The Jerusalem Post)
Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov and Secretary Powell, at a meeting in Rome, urged the Israelis and the Palestinians to create conditions for sending international observers to the region. Mr. Ivanov said that an “international presence [was] needed on the Palestinian territory in whatever form, in order to stop the violence,” adding that he had “agreed to cooperate closely with the US for the sake of attaining a comprehensive settlement in the region.” Secretary Powell stressed, for his part, that the first thing needed for sending an international mission to the Middle East was the consent of the two parties. Secretary Powell called an EU plan to send international observers as “premature”, saying he thought the Mitchell plan first had to be initiated before considerations of sending observers were made. Mr. Powell further said that he was “disappointed” by the continuing violence in the Middle East and had pressed Chairman Arafat to seek to restore calm.
Arab Foreign Ministers ending a one-day meeting in Cairo, agreed to ask the G-8 countries to send observers to the Occupied Palestinian Territory and called on the US, as a co-sponsor of the peace process, to “shoulder its responsibility in halting Israeli practices that threaten chances for peace in the region”. In a statement issued at the end of the meeting, Saudi Arabia also pledged to provide US$45 million a month to the Palestinians. The meeting was attended by Chairman Arafat who appealed for the convening of an extraordinary Arab summit meeting to focus on what he described as an Israeli escalation against the Palestinians.
(AFP, DPA, Reuters)
The Israeli security cabinet, convened by Prime Minister Sharon decided to step up measures against the Palestinians, a Government source said. The source added that the Cabinet approved a further extension of Israel’s policy of “intercepting”, or target killing and seizing, Palestinians “suspected of planning or carrying out” attacks against Israelis.
Russian President Putin said at a press conference in the Kremlin that it was of vital importance to end the violence in the Middle East, but insisted that the interests of all countries in the region had to be taken into account
French Foreign Minister Védrine told French radio station
that it was necessary to send international observers to monitor the fragile ceasefire and future peace process in the Middle East. “A mechanism of neutral surveillance is needed. It is in the interests of both Palestinians and Israelis,” he said. “The situation there is bad, serious, worrying and it will last as long as there is no real political perspective,” he said
British Prime Minister Tony Blair warned, that any increased Israeli military presence in the West Bank would inflame tension with the Palestinians. Blair’s official spokesman told reporters that the Prime Minister had told visiting Foreign Minister Peres that he “recognized the legitimate security concerns of both sides but said that restraint had to be shown.” Foreign Minister Peres told reporters that Israel contrary to the reports in the press “did not intend to reconquer the territories”.
“Time is running out to find a way of restarting the Middle East peace process”, Italian Foreign Minister Renato Ruggiero said after a meeting of the G-8 Foreign Ministers in Rome, stressing that there was no alternative “to the Mitchell plan, which was backed by a broad international consensus”. (AFP)
A Palestinian woman and her two children were injured in a West Bank village of Abu Nujeim when an Israeli personnel carrier ran into her house, witnesses said. They said the IDF were moving through the village, which is under Palestinian control.
The US State Department expressed reservations about an Israeli request to include two Palestinian groups on its list of terrorist organizations. The two groups are the Tanzim, the armed organization of the Fatah, and Force 17, Chairman Arafat's personal guard
. (Ha’aretz, XINHUA)
Amnesty International called on the international community to act promptly to end the Israeli policy of closures in the West Bank and Gaza. “The confinement of more than three million people for 10 months to their own villages or homes by curfews and closures is a totally unacceptable response to the violence of a few,” the organization said. The closures denied freedom of movement and suffocated economic life, and they were not effective in preventing violent attacks against Israelis, it said. As party to the Geneva Conventions, Israel was contravening the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, Amnesty said.
Israeli and Palestinian security officials met under US auspices. Although, the meeting ended without results, it was agreed to hold further talks. (AFP)
The G-8 Foreign Ministers urged Israel to accept the deployment of foreign observers and called for an immediate ceasefire in the Middle East as they closed talks ahead of this week’s G-8 Summit. The Foreign Ministers issued a statement saying, “in light of the alarming developments in the Middle East, we reaffirm that the Mitchell report in its entirety is the only way forward to break the deadlock, to stop the escalation and to resume a political process”. The statement further added that they believed that in these circumstances, third party monitoring accepted by both parties would serve their interests in implementing the Mitchell Report".
(AFP, Comtex Scientific Corporation, DPA, Reuters)
In reply to the G-8 statement, Israel reiterated its opposition to the deployment of observers. A statement issued by Prime Minister Sharon’s office said that a surveillance system headed by the CIA was already in place. Chairman Arafat said the proposal to send international observers to the Occupied Palestinian Territory was “the right step in the right direction to guarantee calm and security for both sides’
. (AFP, DPA)
Chairman Arafat sent an urgent letter to the G-8 Summit in Genoa, Italy, urging the leaders to help “end the Israeli aggression and save the Middle East peace process”. According to
, Mr. Arafat urged the summit leaders “to make decisive decisions related to ending the Israeli military occupation and recognize the Palestinians’ right to self-determination”. The letter said there had to be a joint international initiative, approved by the UN Security Council and supported by the G-8 countries, to sponsor serious Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. “The Israeli-Palestinian negotiations must have a timetable and a mechanism in order to guarantee their implementation under international observation.” Mr. Arafat also called for the G-8 countries to intervene immediately to end what he described as the continued harsh Israeli security and economic measures, the destruction of homes and the daily assassination of Palestinian leaders
A British Foreign Office Minister, Ben Bradshaw, arrived in Egypt at the start of a Middle East tour, British embassy officials said. Mr. Bradshaw, who was scheduled to meet with Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher and Arab League Secretary-General Amre Moussa, suggested that international monitors could start work after a “24-hour period of quiet” as a way of making a Palestinian-Israeli ceasefire work. Mr. Bradshaw, spoke after the G-8 countries had endorsed a call for sending monitors to the Middle East. Without elaborating, he said that “perhaps after a 24-hour period of quiet we could agree that monitors would be involved in monitoring whether we then had another six days on which we could then instigate the necessary confidence-building measures”. British officials said they could not say whether Mr. Bradshaw would actually raise the 24-hour formula with Israeli and Palestinian leaders during his tour of the region, but that London saw it as one way to make the ceasefire hold. Mr. Bradshaw also said that his Government did “not accept that it is possible for Arafat to achieve 100 per cent quiet for a period of a week”.
Sheikh Sultan bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, the Deputy Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates, warned that US support for Israel in its conflict with the Palestinians would damage Washington’s interests in the region. “Middle East stability and a settlement of the Palestinian cause are two key conditions for the success of the partnership” between Washington and the Gulf States, he said. “The clear alignment of the US with Israel constitutes for us an injustice towards the Palestinians and a danger for regional security and stability,” he said in an interview with the Arab newspaper
Al Asharq Al-Awsat
. He added that Washington’s policies were “encouraging Israel in its aggressions, thereby endangering regional security”.
West Bank Security Chief Jibril Rajoub told
that the demand for the “right to return” for refugees displaced by Israel in 1948 was “symbolic”, and not intended to question the Jewish State’s right to exist. “It is a symbolic demand that does not imply drastic changes” for Israel. Its application was not aimed at “calling into question the demographic balance in Israel and its democratic character,” he said in Hebrew.
Jewish militants attacked a car, near Hebron, carrying eight Palestinian family members, killing three of them, including a three-month-old baby. Hospital officials said that besides the baby, two men had been killed and five other persons wounded, including two more babies.
said a group calling itself “The Committee for Road Safety” had claimed responsibility for the attack. Israeli security sources said a group using that name had carried out attacks in the past and had been related with the outlawed Kach movement campaigning to expel Arabs from Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory. In a statement, the Palestinian Authority appealed to the G-8 Summit taking place in Genoa, Italy, “to take an immediate, urgent and decisive decision to send international monitors to the Palestinian territories to protect our people from the oppression of the occupation army and the brutal crimes conducted by the settler militias”, adding that the Palestinian leadership held the Israeli Government fully responsible “for this crime against [the Palestinian] people”.
Following the killing of the three Palestinians by Jewish militants near Hebron, a statement issued by Mr. Sharon’s office said the Prime Minister and the Israeli Government condemned “all forms of violence and terrorism no matter who carrie[d] them out” and regretted “the fact that innocent people have lost their lives”. “We will not spare any effort to bring those responsible for this attack to justice”, the statement from Mr. Sharon’s office added. In another statement, Foreign Minister Peres said Israel would apprehend “those who perpetrated the abominable murder ... and [would] punish them to the fullest extent of the law”. The “Council of Jewish Communities in Judea, Samaria and Gaza” condemned “in the strongest terms this immoral and illegal act which can only endanger the work accomplished by developing settlements”.
Ten Palestinians were wounded in Hebron, in shooting exchanges with Israeli soldiers that followed the killing of the three Palestinians by Israeli militants. One of the wounded, who was over 60, was seriously injured in the stomach, hospital sources said.
The killing of the three Palestinians by Jewish militants was strongly condemned by the US Administration. “Attacks such as these, which are intended to kill civilians, are unconscionable and barbaric”, State Department spokesman Philip Reeker said in a statement. “We call on the Israeli Government to do everything possible to investigate this incident, bring those responsible to justice and prevent a recurrence," Mr. Reeker added. At the same time, he urged the Palestinian side to “exercise restraint and not perpetuate this tragic cycle of violence”. “This illustrates the urgent need to exert maximum efforts to halt this ongoing tragedy, avoid escalation, desist from provocation and incitement and strive to create and sustain through words and deeds an environment of trust and confidence that will permit them to move forward with the implementation of the Mitchell Committee recommendations in all their aspects”, the State Department spokesman said.
A Russian Foreign Ministry statement condemned the killing of the three Palestinians saying such attacks served to destabilize the region. French Foreign Ministry Spokesman François Rivasseau also condemned “most firmly… the terrorist act” and called on the Israeli authorities to do all they could “to assure that this kind of barbarous act will never occur again”. He added that “[t]he only solution to the crisis is to immediately and fully implement the recommendations of the Mitchell report and to set up an impartial monitoring mechanism to supervise the implementation”. In Brussels, EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana also condemned the attack.
According to Palestinian police sources, one Palestinian was killed and four were injured in an Israeli shelling attack in Hebron. However, the office of Prime Minister Sharon said in a statement there had been no military activity in the area. The incident happened at the end of a day of tension in the city, following the funerals of the three Palestinians, including a three-month-old boy, killed the previous day by Jewish militants. In the southern Gaza Strip, Israeli tanks fired on a refugee camp in Khan Younis, damaging houses but not causing any injuries, Palestinian security sources said.
In a statement released on the second day of their three-day G-8 Summit in Genoa, Italy, the participants supported the dispatch of observers to monitor the Middle East peace process. “The situation in the Middle East presents a grave danger. Too many lives have already been lost. We cannot stand by while the situation deteriorates. There is a need for immediate action”, the statement said, adding that “[t]he cooling-off period must begin as soon as possible”. Endorsing a statement released by the G-8 Foreign Ministers meeting in Rome the previous day, the statement added that “[t]hird-party monitoring, accepted by both parties, would serve their interests in implementing the Mitchell Report”.
In a statement carried by
, the Palestinian leadership welcomed the G-8 position regarding the dispatch of monitors and called for “its rapid implementation and for a mechanism to assure the smooth operation of the observer mission”. It was “necessary to send observers as soon as possible to stop the spilling of Palestinian blood, to apply the recommendations of the Mitchell report, stop Israeli colonization and save the peace process”, it added. It also urged Arab leaders to convene an emergency summit in order to “unite their efforts to obtain a resolution from the UN Security Council imposing a halt on Israeli government aggression and the application of other UN resolutions”.
Palestinian security sources said an Israeli tank shell killed a 48-year-old Palestinian when it hit his home in the village of Al-Mughraka in the southern Gaza Strip. The IDF disputed the report, saying the soldiers shot from their position on a tank with machine guns at “two armed terrorists” who had opened fire on their outpost near the “Netzarim” settlement.
Speaking at the weekly cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Sharon pledged Israel would do everything to arrest and punish those who murdered the three Palestinians near Hebron. According to
Mr. Sharon said he had ordered the security services to pursue any Jewish underground organizations that were involved in the drive-by shooting incident. The Israeli army and police reported that they still could not find the perpetrators and the probe had not made any progress. Meanwhile, the Israeli right-wing group Zo Artzeinu published an advertisement in an Israeli newspaper over the weekend, calling for the assassination of Chairman Arafat. The advertisement termed such an assassination the “most moral, correct and efficient way to defend our people”.
Addressing a meeting of his Likud Party Central Committee in Tel Aviv, Prime Minister Sharon vowed that his Government would keep the self-declared policy of “restraint”, refraining from launching massive attacks against the Palestinians but taking active defence measures, including targeted killing and kidnapping of Palestinian activists
Mr. Sharon restated his opposition to the deployment of international observers.
In a statement at the end of their conference in Cairo, Arab human rights activists urged the international community to push for an end to Israel’s “apartheid regime” at the UN World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance to be held in Durban, South Africa, from 28 August – 7 September 2001. More than 60 delegations from Arab and international human rights NGOs attended the meeting.
Foreign Minister Peres and Defence Minister Ben-Eliezer said Israel, if asked by the US, would consider allowing more CIA staff to oversee a truce with the Palestinians but repeated Israel’s opposition to an “internationalisation” of the conflict through the deployment of international observers.
(AFP, DPA, Reuters)
A member of the Islamic Jihad, was killed by an Israeli border-guard unit near Jenin, who was suspected of having sent a Palestinian to carry out a would-be suicide bomb attack in the northern Israeli city of Haifa on 22 July Israeli police sources said. Earlier in the day, another Islamic Jihad member had been wounded in the leg when four masked men pulled alongside his car in Bethlehem and opened fire before fleeing. A five-year-old Palestinian girl was shot and critically wounded in the stomach while a four-year-old boy was hit in the leg in their house in Beitunia, near Ramallah. Israeli soldiers opened fire on the house from an army position near a road used by Jewish settlers, Palestinian sources said, without giving further details. A 15-year-old Palestinian was killed by Israeli machine-gun fire after he was caught up in clashes between the two sides in the southern Gaza Strip town of Rafah.
A Palestinian youngster was killed around midnight by an underground Jewish group, which infiltrated into Jenin.
(Comtex Scientific Corporation)
Prime Minister Sharon reiterated that the seven-day testing period for the implementation of the Mitchell report had not started, although visiting EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy, Javier Solana said he had seen some progress in restoring calm on the ground. A statement, issued by the Prime Ministers office said that the testing period would not begin unless there was “complete quiet”. Following a meeting with Foreign Minister Peres, Mr. Solana said “we would like as much as possible to have the cooling off period started so that the recommendations of the Mitchell report can get in motion”.
(AFP, Comtex Scientific Corporation)
The new US Ambassador to Israel Daniel Kurtzer said a top priority was finding an agreeable mechanism for monitoring the implementation of the ceasefire. “The G-8 Heads of State indicated that any such mechanism would be with the agreement of the parties,” Mr. Kurtzer said.
(DPA, Ha’aretz, Reuters)
Arab League Secretary-General Amre Moussa at a news conference in Cairo, urging the G-8 countries, said “International observers should be sent to the occupied Palestinian territories as soon as possible. Waiting for an Israeli approval on the dispatch of international monitors is against the Geneva Conventions and international law”.
British Middle East Envoy Ben Bradshaw, speaking after a meeting with President Emile Lahoud in Beirut, said that “the British and the EU believe very strongly that the situation is very critical” and there was a need to move “very quickly toward the implementation of the Mitchell agreement” otherwise the situation “could get worse”, adding “the EU has been pushing for some time now on the idea of monitors playing a positive role, helping to get the clock ticking on Mitchell,” he said. “We were very pleased that the Americans have come on board with that and we hope now very much that this will be accepted by the Israeli side so that we can actually get progress,” he said. Mr. Bradshaw added that Prime Minister Sharon did “not like the idea very much at the moment. I think we have to persuade him that it is in both Israel’s and the Palestinians’ interest that Mitchell is implemented”.
Qadura Mussa, the Fatah leader in Jenin, denied that a man killed by Israeli police in the West Bank on 23 July was an Islamic Jihad activist, and accused Israel of a “cold-blooded assassination”.
Twenty young peace activists from North America and Europe said they intended to stay for a week in the West Bank town of Beit Jala in order to act as “human shields” against possible Israeli attacks. During a news conference in Jerusalem, the human rights activists announced that they would be the guests of Palestinian families living on the “front line” of clashes between the Palestinians and the IDF. The 20 activists called in a statement for an “international protection force” for the Palestinians, and supported what they said was a Palestinian right to “resistance against the occupation”.
Speaking to reporters after a meeting with Foreign Minister Peres, EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana said regarding the proposed third-party monitoring mechanism that the important thing was not whether the monitors would be Americans or Europeans but what could work on the ground. Mr. Solana also urged Israel to control Jewish extremism just as it was demanding that Palestinian radicals were brought under control. For his part, Mr. Peres said that the issue of international observers had not been raised during the meeting with Mr. Solana, because it was still “premature” to discuss it.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher told journalists after meeting President Jacques Chirac in Paris that the nationality of third-party monitors to verify implementation of the Fact-Finding Committee/Mitchell report was “not a great problem, even if they are all of the same nationality, and if they are only American. What is important is that they arrive on the ground and observe”. Mr. Maher, who was making his first visit to France since his appointment as Foreign Minister, said he had talked with President Chirac about using the implementation of the Mitchell report as a roadmap towards final status negotiations between the Palestinians and the Israelis, based on the principle of land for peace. President Chirac’s spokeswoman said the President had agreed that “demanding 100 per cent results in the fight against terrorists attacks would, in reality, play into the hands of extremists” and had stressed that the G-8 Heads of State and Government at their recent conference in Italy had “demanded that the Israelis and Palestinians urgently put in place the recommendations of the Mitchell report”.
Asked whether the US would strengthen the CIA presence if agreement were reached for third-country monitoring in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, State Department spokesman Philip Reeker said the CIA mission’s security role was separate from any monitoring mission. The CIA role was to help establish a framework “by which they could pursue very important security contacts to establish security and get the violence down, to break the cycle of violence”, Mr. Reeker said. In contrast, the “monitoring function” envisaged in the Mitchell report and advocated in G-8 statements last week involved “third-party monitoring accepted by both parties that could serve their interests as they implement the Mitchell report recommendations”, stressing that that monitoring function had “nothing to do with the CIA”.
Responding to the approval by the US House of Representatives of a bill calling for sanctions against the Palestinians if they failed to honour the US-brokered ceasefire, Chairman Arafat’s adviser Nabil Abu Rudeineh said that “the Congress’s warning to the Palestinian Authority and the PLO [was] biased”. The US$15.2 billion foreign aid bill requires President Bush to close the Palestinian Information Office in Washington, or designate the PLO a terrorist organization, or limit assistance to the Occupied Palestinian Territory, if he cannot determine that the PLO is taking steps to curb violence.
Israeli tank shells struck the car of Salah Darwazeh, 35, near the Al-Ayn refugee camp close to Nablus, killing him instantly. The IDF took responsibility for the attack through a statement, in which it said Darwazeh had been a prominent member of Hamas in Nablus and was responsible for planning “massive terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians”. “The army will continue to take action to thwart attacks in order to ensure the security of Israeli civilians and soldiers”, the statement said. “I believe this is a dangerous escalation and an attempt to kill or undermine the international efforts aimed at containing the Israeli aggression”, PA West Bank Preventive Security Chief Jibril Rajoub said, adding that he hoped the international community would immediately send observers to stop these “dangerous attacks”.
(AFP, DPA, Reuters, XINHUA)
Following a meeting between Chairman Arafat and visiting EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana, PA Minister for Planning and International Cooperation Nabil Shaath told reporters Mr. Arafat had “informed [Mr.] Solana that is very difficult to ask our people to stop resisting occupation while Israeli forces are carrying out acts of killing, assassination and destruction”. Mr. Solana reiterated his call for the implementation “as soon as possible” of the Fact-Finding/Mitchell Committee recommendations.
A group of Israeli and Palestinian politicians, peace activists and intellectuals meeting north of Jerusalem issued a joint declaration, appealing for “an end to bloodshed, an end to occupation, an urgent return to negotiations and the realisation of peace” between the two peoples. The document was signed by more than 50 personalities, among them PA Information Minister Yasser Abed Rabbo and former Israeli cabinet minister Yossi Beilin. The statement said the way forward lay in the implementation of UN Security Council resolutions “leading to a two-state solution based on the 1967 borders, Israel and Palestine living side by side, with their respective capitals in Jerusalem”. It added that “[t]he immediate need is for the full and accurate implementation of the recommendations of the Mitchell Committee, including the cessation of violence, a total freeze on settlement activity, the implementation of outstanding agreements and a return to negotiations”. It also demanded that the implementation be monitored by “an objective party”.
The IDF said it had launched top-level investigations into at least eight cases of alleged harassment of Palestinians by soldiers on duty in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. Army spokesman Olivier Rafowicz said disciplinary action had been taken in some instances, adding that troops could face possible court martial depending on the severity of the case. Without elaborating, he said that the incidents involved “misbehaviour” or “harassment” of Palestinians by soldiers at checkpoints in the Occupier Palestinian Territory, actions he said the army “denounced strongly”.
EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy, Javier Solana, said after talks with Jordanian Foreign Minister Abdel Ilah Khatib that “the EU [was] very engaged “ and was “working together with the US to establish and analyze a mechanism,” to implement the recommendations of the Mitchell report.
The Israeli-Palestinian security coordination meeting held at the US embassy in Tel Aviv, ended without results. According to an Israeli spokesman, the meeting was broken up after an hour and a half by the US. The CIA officials who chaired the meeting said that the current framework of security coordination had to be changed in the future, as it was of no use for either side to meet merely to exchange accusations. The Palestinians reportedly handed over to the US a list of 50 Israeli “terrorists” responsible for attacks on Palestinians. Israel had rejected the list in advance.
(AFP, Ha’aretz, Reuters, XINHUA)
The IDF arrested 12 Palestinians in an overnight raid into Palestinian-controlled territory in the West Bank,
Voice of Palestine
radio reported, seven of them Fatah members. All were seized from locations near Hebron, Qalqilya and Ramallah. Israeli sources said the arrests were in line with the government’s policy of “intercepting terrorists”.
According to unnamed Israeli officials, the US would be ready in a few days to present a plan for implementing the recommendations of the Mitchell report. The plan, which would be presented to the Israelis by US Ambassador Dan Kurtzer, would include a US observer force. The US was reportedly still debating whether the observers would deal exclusively with the ceasefire arrangements or whether they would also be overseeing the implementation of the recommendations of the Mitchell report.
IDF Radio reported
that the first residents of the settlement of “Har Homa” would be moving into their homes in October 2001.
Two bulldozers accompanied by IDF jeeps penetrated 150 metres into Palestinian-controlled areas of the Gaza Strip, levelling fields and destroyed olive groves, a Palestinian security official said.
State Department spokesman Philip Reeker said that the US continued “to emphasize the importance of enhancing the bilateral security cooperation between [Israelis and Palestinians] as the key to bringing down the violence”. Despite the failed security talks on 25 July, Mr. Reeker said the US would maintain its important “facilitative role” regarding the trilateral security meetings, as they represented “important opportunities to enhance this coordination and foster trust and confidence”.
Speaking before the Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia of the House Committee on International Relations, US Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs William Burns said that the US hoped to move “as soon as possible” beyond the ceasefire phase of the Mitchell Committee recommendations and into the cooling off period.
(The Jerusalem Post)
In retaliation for the earlier killing of a Jewish teenager travelling on a bypass road from Jerusalem to the “Givat Zeev” settlement near Ramallah, Israeli tanks entered more than 400 metres into the Palestinian-controlled town. They moved between houses and shops before flattening Palestinian positions at three main entrances of Ramallah. At least three houses, one shop and a hotel were also damaged by shells and heavy calibre machinegun bullets fired during the attack, witnesses said, but no injuries were reported. Helicopters hovered overhead throughout the attack. The IDF said it had targeted the posts of Force 17.
(AFP, DPA, Reuters, XINHUA)
Chief Rabbi of Israel Meir Lau issued a ruling giving “full Halachic justification to the policy of prevention and interception” against Palestinian militants. “The reality in the country is that of a ‘mitzvah war’ [a war of necessity], which is defined as one in which not only defence, but also initiative and daring is needed”, the Chief Rabbi was quoted as saying. “Jewish religious law gives its ... full support to the policy of active killings which the Government and security forces maintain today in order to prevent terrorists from planning and carrying out attacks in Israel”, the Rabbi said in a statement. He noted, however, that while engaging in “preventative war” was justified by religious law, only authorised forces were permitted to conduct it, thus ruling out vigilantes and military actions against innocent civilians.
(AFP, Ha’aretz, Reuters)
The Washington Post
reported that the US was considering sending a small team of diplomats to act as ceasefire monitors between the Israelis and Palestinians. The team, currently thought of as 10-member strong, would be drawn mostly from the State Department but would also include an intelligence expert from the CIA and would perform mostly record-keeping duties. Team members would be dispatched to flash points following clashes to investigate the circumstances of any continued violence. Deployment of such a team was not imminent and would come only with the agreement of both sides and following seven days of calm and the beginning of the “cooling off period” envisaged by the Mitchell report, according to State Department officials.
The French human rights group Reporters Sans Frontières strongly criticized the Israeli armed forces for wounding 30 journalists in the Occupied Palestinian Territory since last September. “With one exception, it appears that the shots fired at the journalists came from Israeli position”, the group’s Secretary-General, Robert Ménard, told journalists in Paris after issuing a formal report on the incidents. The group had investigated the cases of 30 journalists injured by live or rubber bullets: 21 Palestinians, seven French and two from the USA. In at least five incidents, the report said, “the journalists just barely escaped with their lives”. In two of these cases “the wounds will probably affect them for their entire lives”. The group also criticized the Israeli Government's reluctance to investigate “when the victim is a Palestinian journalist” and denounced “the lack of transparency and slowness of [Israeli] officials to shed light on these incidents”.
A poll published by
showed that 54 per cent of Israelis favoured the establishment of a ceasefire monitoring commission made up of agents from the CIA, while 39 per cent were against it. A total of 46 per cent said they were in favour of an outright attack on the Palestinian Authority, should anti-Israeli strikes continue, while 30 per cent backed the Israeli Government’s policy of “restraint”, coupled with targeted assassinations of Palestinian militants. 80 per cent said they were also opposed to “terrorist acts” against Palestinians, while 15 per cent supported such attacks. Nevertheless, 72 per cent said they understood the motives of the Jewish militants who carried out these attacks, as against 24 per cent for whom they were beyond comprehension.
(AFP, DPA, Reuters)
reported that the Israeli Foreign Ministry had submitted to the security cabinet ministers, including Prime Minister Sharon, a memorandum with recommendations on how to deal with violence and break the current impasse. The move was reportedly meant to counter the views of high-ranking army and intelligence officials who viewed the PA as an “enemy”. It suggested that Israel should avoid any massive military actions against the PA and use “appropriate doses” of military response to Palestinian attacks, even if they were large-scale “terrorist attacks”. The Ministry recommended carrying on “pinpoint activity against terrorist elements” but avoiding attacks against the Palestinian infrastructure and institutions and Palestinian civilians. Israel should not appear to be seeking to capture Palestinian-controlled areas or to remove the PA leadership, and should avoid rhetorical provocations. It also suggested that Israel might relieve the economic sufferings of the Palestinian people and “strengthen” the population there with economic improvements. To get out of the current crisis and pressure Chairman Arafat to fight “terrorism”, the memorandum suggested Israel needed a political program that showed a way out of the crisis and should undertake direct talks with the Palestinians to avoid the internationalization of the conflict. The Ministry proposals reportedly included gradual negotiations for a final status agreement, the implementation of existing interim agreements, a “third redeployment” over a significant area in the West Bank and the establishment of a Palestinian State in all those areas under Palestinian control. The memorandum said the way to achieve stability was through international pressure on Chairman Arafat to stifle “terrorism” and through political negotiations on the basis of the Mitchell report recommendations, which have received massive international backing. The memorandum cautioned that a failure in the political talks would hasten escalation.
The PLO Executive Committee, chaired by Chairman Arafat released a statement in response to the 24 July approval by the US House of Representatives of a bill calling for sanctions against Palestinians if they failed to honour the US-brokered ceasefire. The statement said that the bill “lacks objectivity and does not do justice to the Palestinian people”, adding that the House of Representatives were “forgetting that the US [was] the main sponsor of the peace process”.
PA Minister for Planning and International Cooperation, Nabil Shaath said Palestinians were opposed to a ceasefire observer force composed of monitors only from the US, noting that the Palestinian side preferred observers from a number of countries including European ones. Mr. Shaath said that the PA insisted on the deployment of international observers that would act as a “real deterrent” to Israel.
Israeli riot police stormed into the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound and fired tear gas at Palestinians assembled there, after Palestinian protestors threw stones at Jewish worshippers praying at the Western Wall below. The violence erupted after activists from the fringe group Temple Mount Faithful tried, despite widespread Arab protests, to lay a symbolic cornerstone for a new Jewish temple outside Jerusalem’s Old City. According to Jerusalem Police Chief Cmdr. Mickey Levy, 400 police stormed the compound and fired stun grenades to disperse the Palestinian demonstrators. Fifteen Israeli policemen and 20 Palestinians were lightly injured in the clashes. EU Middle East Envoy Miguel Angel Moratinos, who held talks in Cairo with Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher, said after the incident that the move was “ill-timed” and appealed to Israelis to avoid “any provocative act”.
(AFP, The Jerusalem Post, XINHUA)
Representatives from 13 countries of the Arab League met in Damascus, Syria, to discuss reviving the Arab boycott of Israel. Egypt, Jordan and Mauritania, which have full diplomatic relations with Israel, did not send representatives to the conference.
An explosion killed six Fatah activists in the Far’a refugee near Jenin, Palestinian officials and witnesses said. An aide to Chairman Arafat said the men were on Israel’s most-wanted list and were assassinated by the IDF. Israel denied any involvement and said the blast may have been a failed attempt to prepare a bomb. Palestinian security officials had earlier said that Israeli tank shells killed the men.
(AFP, The Jerusalem Post, Reuters)
Israeli combat helicopters fired missiles on the Palestinian police headquarters in Gaza City that the IDF charged was being used as a weapons factory. At least four Palestinian policemen were injured in the air raid, which smashed walls and shattered windows in the three-story building in a walled security compound, Palestinian security officials said. Palestinian police said the helicopter gunships fired a total of five missiles at the compound known as “Arafat City”. The attack was prompted by the “involvement of the Palestinian police in mortar production and mortar attacks against Israeli targets,” Israeli army sources said
. (AFP, The Jerusalem Post, XINHUA)
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan “urges all concerned to exercise maximum restraint so that the violence can be brought to an end” in the Middle East, UN spokesperson Marie Okabe told reporters in New York. She stressed that “those most recent incidents again highlight the urgent need for the resumption of political talks between the parties” and reiterated the Secretary-General’s call for the implementation of the Fact-Finding/Mitchell Committee recommendations. Ms. Okabe said the Secretary-General “strongly deplores the latest violent incidents in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including the death of six Palestinians in the area of the town of Jenin and the bombings in Jerusalem, as well as the reported Israeli helicopter attack against the Palestinian police headquarters in Gaza City”.
(AFP, DPA, Reuters, UN Newservice, XINHUA)
The Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) warned that the laying of the “cornerstone” of a new Jewish temple by Jewish extremists in the vicinity of Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque compound could cause an “explosive situation” in the Middle East. Qatar, currently holding the OIC chair, condemned the “provocation” and “aggression against the Muslim holy sites” and urged the US and Russian co-sponsors of the peace process and the European Union to intervene. The Tehran-based OIC Parliamentary Union suggested that the UN Security Council immediately convene an extraordinary session to take adequate measures to defuse tension and to induce Israel under the mandatory rules of the UN Charter to withhold its perilous act within a given short period. King Fahd of Saudi Arabia told his weekly Cabinet meeting in Jeddah that "[t]he Saudi kingdom expresses its deep condemnation of the continuing, flagrant Israeli provocations and the violation of holy Muslim sites in Jerusalem”. According to the official
news agency the King added that “Israel’s actions are contrary to all international conventions and will contribute to a deterioration of the situation for which Israel assumes responsibility” and called on the United Nations to “intervene immediately to put an end to Israeli attacks”.
The Russian Foreign Ministry expressed concern about the new wave of confrontation in the Middle East. “The actions of Israeli religious fanatics in the old part of Jerusalem near the Al-Aqsa compound had provoked fierce clashes, in which several dozen Palestinians and Israelis were injured”, the Ministry said in a statement. “Moscow is particularly disturbed by the fact that holy places in Jerusalem have once again become an arena for confrontation. Provocations by extremists touch the most delicate aspect of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict – religious feelings of believers. Clearly, problems connected with this should be solved in great care by taking into account the interests of all confessions and their unconditional right to free and safe access to their holy places”, the statement said. It added that it was hard to find a justification for continuing extrajudicial executions of members of Palestinian organizations and, no matter what reasons were used for such actions, they are outside the law and could further destabilise the situation in the region. “Ways of overcoming the current crisis are well known. We are convinced that an immediate commencement of the Mitchell plan provides the basis for this. Russia is ready to contribute in every possible way to the efforts aimed at launching the process of normalisation and beginning full-scale negotiations as soon as possible, which would pave the way to a fair resolution of the Jerusalem issue”, the statement said.
Representatives of Algeria, Iraq, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, Yemen and the Palestinian Authority, meeting in Damascus, called for a revival of the boycott of Israel. Recommendations adopted by the experts called for a resumption of the regular biannual meetings of the liaison officers based in various Arab States to supervise implementation of the boycott rules. The first such meeting would be held in Damascus on 8 October, Ahmed Khazaa, Commissioner General of the Central Office for the Boycott of Israel (OBI) told a news conference at the end of the two-day meeting. The OBI was urged to circulate to all Arab States any information or data about companies that violated the boycott rules. Mr. Khazaa said the boycott would be used as a peaceful means to force Israel to implement United Nations resolutions on the Arab-Israeli conflict and to make peace with the Arabs.
(AFP, DPA, Reuters)
Palestinian taxi driver Khaled Rawashdeh filed a complaint with B’Tselem, saying that he and eight other Palestinians had been beaten up by a dozen Israeli soldiers for two hours on the side of a West Bank road leading to Hebron. “I saw one of the soldiers run from his position, six meters away, and kick one of the men in the stomach”, he said two days after being released from hospital. The soldiers had thrown stones at the Palestinians, had beaten them with their hands and their gun butts, had destroyed two taxis and had stolen about US$300, according to four complaints filed with B’Tselem. The IDF confirmed that its soldiers had behaved in a “violent manner” and were being investigated by military police, but said it had no information about the alleged theft. “In the next 24 hours the investigation will be concluded, and at that time any soldier found to be connected with this event will be tried and severely punished”, an army spokeswoman told
The IDF was also investigating reports of regular harassment and brutality at a checkpoint in Hebron.
Israeli Defence Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer held an urgent meeting with IDF Chief of General Staff Shaul Mofaz, Shin Beth domestic security service chief Avi Dichter and IDF Director of Military Intelligence Amos Malka, following a sharp escalation in violence.
quoted senior officials as saying that Chairman Arafat had given instructions to step up the pressure with anti-Israeli attacks in Jerusalem. In a statement published in
Minister Ben-Eliezer accused Chairman Arafat of leading the region into an all-out confrontation but said Israel would not allow that to happen.
Prime Minister Sharon accused Chairman Arafat of pursuing a “strategy of terrorism” and vowed the Israeli Government would not negotiate under fire, according to a statement issued by his office
The IDF strengthened its blockade on Palestinian towns, Ramallah, Bethlehem and Tulkarm in particular, to ward off possible attacks on Israeli territory by Palestinian militants, following threats of revenge by Palestinian groups for recent killings of Palestinians, Israeli radio reported.
Eight Palestinians, including two children, were killed in an Israeli attack on a seven-storey building in Nablus, which housed a Hamas office. Among the dead were two Hamas leaders identified as Jamal Mansour, 41, and Jamal Salim, 42, and two boys aged 10 and 12 who were with their mother outside the building at the time of the attack. Another 15 people were injured, two of them seriously, according to Palestinian sources. The Israeli Government said this was a “preventative” strike to stop the men preparing bomb attacks on Israeli targets. In the Gaza Strip, an Islamic Jihad member, Hamuda al-Madhun, 23, was shot dead in armed clashes with Israeli soldiers near the Karni crossing into Israel, Palestinian medical sources said. The IDF denied there had been an exchange of fire. In another incident, a 21-year-old Palestinian policeman was killed by Israeli troops as he was driving near the settlement of “Netzarim”, in the Gaza Strip, Palestinian security and hospital sources said. According to
, the latest deaths bring the toll since the 13 June US-brokered ceasefire to 71, 54 Palestinians and 17 Israelis, and the total death toll since the start of the
to 685, of which 538 Palestinians and 128 Israelis.
(AFP, Reuters, XINHUA)
Following the killing of eight Palestinians in Nablus, a statement issued in the name of the Palestinian leadership and all political forces accused Israel of waging “political terrorism”. “The Israeli Government is mistaken if it thinks that the Palestinian people and their freedom fighters will yield to the savage Israeli aggression”, the statement added
Referring to the killing of eight Palestinians in Nablus, State Department spokesman Charles Hunter characterized the Israeli action as “excessive”, said the US “deeply regret[ted] and strongly deplore[d] the killing of civilians” and noted that this was “a new and dangerous escalation of violence”. “This attack represents an escalation, is highly provocative, and makes efforts to restore calm much more difficult”, he added. Mr. Hunter said the US continued “to strongly oppose the Israeli policy of targeted attacks, which in this instance has led to the death of innocent civilians”. “Both sides should recognize that down this path of escalation and retaliation lies disaster”, he added and implored “both sides to take immediate steps to restore an atmosphere of calm”.
King Abdullah urged the US to play a more active and effective role in ending the escalating Israeli-Palestinian violence. During a phone conversation that he initiated with President Bush, King Abdullah warned that the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory was “very dangerous” and said the international community should take prompt actions to prevent the further escalation of tensions between the two sides. According to the
news agency, the two leaders agreed that the Mitchell report recommendations must be implemented to end the violence.
The UK condemned the Israeli killing of eight Palestinians in Nablus, saying it could not “accept the targeted assassination by Israel of Palestinian militants.” In a statement, Foreign Office Minister Ben Bradshaw said “we and our EU colleagues have repeatedly made clear that such assassinations are wrong and illegal under international law” and added that “these assassinations create an environment in which atrocities are seen as justified and lead to further violence”. “Equally, the Palestinian Authority should do everything it can to prevent extremist violence” he cautioned, while calling on both sides for the full implementation of the Mitchell Report