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Source: Division for Palestinian Rights
30 September 2002


D i v i s i o n f o r P a l e s t i n i a n R i g h t s

Chronological Review of Events Relating to the

Question of Palestine

MONTHLY MEDIA MONITORING REVIEW

September 2002


1

IDF troops, backed by dozens of tanks and APCs, entered the Jenin camp, killing a Palestinian activist during exchanges of fire. Separately, four Palestinians were shot dead by IDF troops as they approached an orchard near the village of Bani Na’im east of Hebron belonging to Israeli settlers. An IDF spokesman said the men had been either about to attack the settlement or were scouting out the land in preparation for a strike, and had already cut their way through a gate. The Palestinians reportedly carried some tools, and no weapons were found near the bodies. Palestinian witnesses said the men were night shift workers from a nearby stone quarry who were shot without provocation. The Palestine General Federation of Trade Unions reportedly said in a statement that “Israeli soldiers pulled the four men outside and assassinated them in cold blood … then took the bodies to the road that leads to an Israeli colony near Hebron called Beni Hever and put them near the fence of the colony in order to claim that those Palestinians were on their way to the colony.” (AFP, AP, DPA, Ha’aretz)

Two Palestinians injured by Israeli gunfire, one at the start of the intifada 23 months ago in Gaza, and another last month in Nablus in the northern West Bank, died from their wounds, Palestinian hospital officials said. (AFP)

Defence Minister Ben-Eliezer ordered a military probe into a series of IDF operations that have killed 15 Palestinians in recent days. “The Defence Minister gave instructions to appoint a special team, headed by a major-general, to review these incidents and to present ... by this Friday operative recommendations to prevent the recurrence of such unfortunate accidents in the future,” the statement said. Israeli President Moshe Katzav said during a visit to an Israeli Arab school “The claim as to whether the (army) was trigger-happy must be examined … If the army reaches the conclusion that this was the case, it will decide what to do - but it would be hasty to draw conclusions now.” (AFP, DPA, Reuters)

2

Palestinian politician Hanna Siniora was poised to become the new ambassador to Washington in October, he told DPA in East Jerusalem. His most important task would be to amend Palestinian-American relations and to return them to the status they enjoyed when former US President Clinton was in office, he said. Apart from that task, Mr. Siniora wanted to ensure that the US abided by the time schedule for the creation of an independent Palestinian State. Other tasks included promoting cooperation with US congressional representatives and Arab-Islamic communities in America. (DPA)

The IDF demolished six Palestinians houses in and near the village of Yatta, near Hebron, Mayor Mohammad Shatat said. The houses were built in autonomous Palestinian territory, but overlooked a road used by settlers in the Hebron region, the mayor told AFP, adding that the owners of nine houses in the same area were informed a month ago by the army that their homes would be destroyed “for security reasons.” A doctor working for Medicins sans Frontières said she saw five houses, which were still under construction but almost complete, being destroyed by army bulldozers. She added that one of the houses, in the tiny hamlet of Zif at a junction just outside Yatta, was already occupied, with the residents gathering up what they could before the bulldozers moved in. (AFP)

The IDF and GSS arrested three Hamas activists in the Al-Far’a refugee camp south east of Jenin, and a leader of the Al-Quds Brigades, the armed wing of the Islamic Jihad, in the village of Kafr Qud, 8 km west of Jenin. In the Gaza Strip, Palestinians security officials said Israeli forces arrested five Palestinians, including three members of the intelligence service in the town of Deir El-Balah. They also accused Israel of going back on a agreement to reopen a road near the “Netzarim” settlement, just to the south of Gaza City, which they said the IDF had promised as part of an accord to alleviate the suffering of the Palestinian population. The Palestinian head of the military liaison committee, General Ribhe Arafat, also told the WAFA news agency that he had asked the IDF to arrest the soldiers who on 29 August had killed four Palestinian civilians harvesting grapes. (AFP, DPA)

Israeli troops shot dead an armed Palestinian in the Gaza Strip who attacked a military convoy with grenades close to the “Kissufim” road crossing near the border with Israel, IDF sources said. In a joint statement faxed to AFP in Gaza City, the National Resistance Brigades, the armed wing of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), and the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades claimed responsibility for the attack. (AFP, DPA)

3

Speaking to reporters after meeting former South African President Nelson Mandela in Johannesburg on the sidelines of the UN Earth Summit, Foreign Minister Peres said Israel was ready to pay any price for peace and would be willing to negotiate an Arab-Israeli deal under the auspices of the Quartet. Mr. Mandela said Arab States must recognise Israel, and the UN, together with a neutral commission trusted by both sides, would supervise existing peace declarations. “If we had Nelson Mandela in the Middle East, we would have had peace,” Mr. Peres said. (AFP, DPA)

Prime Minister Sharon, at the request of Defence Minister Ben-Eliezer, authorised the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) to hold a special session in Ramallah on 9 September officially to approve the new cabinet. Amos Gilad, the coordinator of Israeli activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, would issue permits for PLC members who need to travel to Ramallah, with the exception of those living in the Gaza Strip and being suspected of links to militant attacks. (AFP, DPA)

The Israeli High Court of Justice approved the expulsion to the Gaza Strip of two relatives of West Bank militants but refused to approve, for lack of evidence, the expulsion of a third Palestinian that an Israeli military tribunal sought to evict. The tribunal had found all three guilty of knowing about and condoning planned attacks. The nine-judge panel also ruled that the two could not be sent to the Gaza Strip indefinitely, but should be allowed to return to the West Bank after two years. In its ruling, the Court said the policy of transferring, or relocating, Palestinians could not be carried out indiscriminately. The army had to prove that those slated for deportation knew in advance of an intended attack, or had helped plan it. The Court also said its decision could not be regarded as “deportation or forcible transfer” within the meaning of Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, but rather as “assigned residence” under Article 78 of the Convention, stressing that the West Bank and Gaza Strip should be regarded as one occupied territory and therefore the case did not involve the transfer of a person outside occupied territory. According to the Court, “although every person has a basic right to retain his place of residence and to prevent a change of that place, international law itself - in Article 78 of the Fourth Geneva Convention - recognizes that there are circumstances in which this right may be overridden by other interests, namely imperative reasons of security.” “This decision is a black day for human rights when the Israeli Supreme Court decides on collective punishment,” Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat told AFP . Amnesty International said “Today’s ruling effectively allows for a grave violation of one of the most basic principles of international human rights law - notably the right of any accused to a fair trial and to challenge any evidence used against them … The unlawful forcible transfer of protected persons constitutes a war crime under both the Fourth Geneva Convention and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.” The State Department spokesman on Middle Eastern affairs, Greg Sullivan, said that the US expected that Israel’s actions in the war against terror would be based on information against specific suspects, and not against their relatives. (AFP, AP, DPA, Ha’aretz)

The Palestinian Authority would ask the Security Council for international protection amid a growing number of civilians being killed by the IDF, the PA Information Minister Yasser Abed Rabbo said, adding the move had been agreed upon in a meeting of the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah. (AFP)

Two Palestinians were killed by shelling from Israeli tanks near the village of Burin south of Nablus. Israeli Army Radio reported that the soldiers fired a tank shell at two Palestinians, one of whom was armed and walking towards the “Har Brakha” settlement. However, the Radio quoted military sources as saying no weapon had been recovered next to the bodies. (AFP)

An Israeli settler was shot and seriously wounded in the head and hand while driving near the town of Birzeit, 5 km north of Ramallah. (AFP)

Ten activists of the ultra-nationalist religious group “Elad”, which openly advocates the Judaization of Jerusalem, took over a house in the Jabal Mukabber neighbourhood in East Jerusalem, Israel Army Radio reported. Elad head David Be'eri said that the takeover of the house was meant to mark the beginning of the new "Nof Zahav" settlement there, which would contain 600 housing units. The Jerusalem Magistrates Court held a hearing after the Palestinian owner of the house, who left it on the night of 2 September, petitioned the Court to rescind the evacuation agreement, which Elad members claim he had previously signed. The owner also denied Elad members’ claim that he had legally sold them the house six years ago. This is the second house in the area to be taken over by “Elad” in recent years. (AFP, Ha’aretz)

Israeli troops shot and wounded five Palestinians, one seriously, in Ramallah, as clashes erupted at the entrance of the Al-Amari refugee camp due to confusion among civilians over the new curfew rules introduced with the start of the school year, with two one-hour periods every day during which children have to reach their schools and return home. However, the hours of the lifting of the curfew varied from one location to another, witnesses said, adding that the population was confused about when it might be safe to be in the streets. (AFP)

Defense Minister Ben-Eliezer attributed the IDF’s recent killing of 12 Palestinian civilians to “bad luck” after receiving the preliminary results of an IDF investigation. “It appears as if there was a series of irregular events, but I was presented with the result of the preliminary investigation and was convinced that it was bad luck,” Mr. Ben-Eliezer said. (AFP, DPA, Ha’aretz)

An Israeli proposal to call a future Palestinian State by its Arabic name, Falastin, had been withdrawn at a UN Conference on the Standardization of Geographic Names in Berlin, officials said. Professor Naftali Kadmon of Israel had circulated a paper two months ago, noting that the English term “Palestine” was a geographic term for the whole area between Jordan and the Mediterranean. He said Israel would reject a new State taking the English name Palestine because this would amount to claiming the territory of Israel as well, while there would be no objection to the use of the name Falastin. Prof. Kadmon withdrew the proposal when he was invited to speak, participants said outside the closed meeting, explaining later in an interview that he had wanted to “avoid futile political discussion”. (DPA)

Médecins sans frontières (MSF) issued a 64-page report entitled “Palestinian Chronicles”, detailing the difficulties encountered daily by those living in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. The report, published in Arabic, English, French, Hebrew and Spanish, “offers testimony to the day-to-day reality of a people trapped by war and suffering in ways that are generally unacknowledged,” the Organization said, adding that the report, available on its website, would be widely distributed to Israeli and the Palestinian officials. The report outlines the activities of teams of MSF physicians and psychologists working with Palestinian civilians from November 2000 to October 2001. In an article included in the report, President of MSF in France, Jean-Hervé Bradol, accused Israel of pressuring aid workers to “become the social workers of an oppressive system designed to imprison an entire people within open-air detention camps.” “The Palestinian people’s capacity to resist has been sorely tried. Now it is the independence of foreign aid workers that will be put to the test,” he said. (AFP)

Six Palestinians, two of them children, were wounded in an explosion in the Jenin refugee camp, Palestinian medical sources said. Camp residents blamed the blast on an Israeli mine, but there was no independent confirmation. Later on, in the Gaza Strip, two Palestinian sisters, aged three and nine years, were wounded by burst tank shells in the southern refugee camp of Khan Yunis, medical sources said. (AFP)

4

The following statement was issued by the Spokesman for the Secretary-General Kofi Annan:

The Secretary-General strongly deplores the acts of violence in the occupied Palestinian territory. He is especially concerned at the recent killing of a number of Palestinian civilians, including several children, as a result of Israeli military attacks. It is particularly distressing that these incidents have occurred during a period of relative calm and while efforts are made to implement a security agreement and to strengthen international assistance to a peaceful settlement. The Secretary-General wishes to remind the Government of Israel of its obligations under international humanitarian law to protect civilians. He welcomes the investigation announced by the Israeli Defence Minister and hopes that those responsible for these acts will be held accountable.

The Secretary-General is also gravely concerned about the Israel Supreme Court’s decisions authorizing the transfer of two relatives of a Palestinian accused of organizing attacks against Israel. Such transfers are strictly prohibited by international humanitarian law and could have very serious political and security implications.

While the Secretary-General has consistently condemned suicide bombings and upheld Israel’s right to defend itself, he wishes to stress that self-defence cannot justify measures that amount to collective punishments.

He once again calls on the Government of Israel to adhere to its obligations under the Fourth Geneva Convention (1949) and not to take actions that are inconsistent with international humanitarian law.


(UN Press Release SG/SM/8364 of 4 September 2002)

Following the decision of the Israeli High Court of Justice of 3 September, the IDF deported the brother and sister of a Palestinian militant from their West Bank homes to the Gaza Strip. The two deportees were given 1,000 Israeli shekels (US$210) each, as well as food and bottled water, an IDF spokesman said, before being “relocated”. Chairman Arafat called the deportations a “crime against humanity” which “violate[d] all humanitarian and judicial laws.” (AFP, DPA, Ha’aretz, The Jerusalem Post, Reuters)

Eight Israeli reserve soldiers who had refused to serve in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, asked the Israeli Supreme Court to rule that the Israeli occupation of those areas was illegal. It was not clear whether the Court would hear the case. Petitioners said it was the first legal challenge to Israel’s occupation. The petitioners argued that in the past two years of Israeli-Palestinian fighting, Israeli has abrogated its duties, as stipulated by international law, to take care of Palestinians living under occupation. “The Israel Defence Forces’ activities notwithstanding, the important goal of fighting terror, have a devastating impact on hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians,” the petitioners wrote. “For this reason, the occupation is illegal.” The eight soldiers are among more than 100 objectors to come forward in recent months. Lt. David Zonsheine, one of the petitioners, said he had been sentenced to 35 days in military prison for refusing two months ago to do reserve duty. During a reserve duty in the Gaza Strip in November 2001, he was forced to hold up Palestinian traffic, including ambulances, at a makeshift checkpoint because of a warning that a suicide bomber could be coming through. “I don’t know how many people died because of the 200 ambulances I delayed there. This made me realize there is no way to have an enlightened occupation,” he said. (The Jerusalem Post)

A report by Secretary-General’s personal humanitarian envoy in the Middle East, Catherine Bertini, was released to the Security Council and made available to the press. The report said the humanitarian crisis in the West Bank and Gaza Strip would quickly “spiral out of control” unless Israel significantly eased the closure of Palestinian-controlled areas. “Conversely, every step that can be taken to allow the free flow of people, goods and services will have a multiplying impact on the well-being of the Palestinian people, and will help the humanitarian crisis to dissipate rapidly.” (AP)

5

Prime Minister Sharon and Foreign Minister Peres of Israel expressed reservations about a European peace proposal, presented by visiting Danish Foreign Minister Per Stig Møller, that envisioned Palestinian statehood by 2005. Mr. Sharon expressed his belief that the timetable of the plan was “not realistic,” an Israeli official said. Mr. Møller said the EU’s concept was to combine all the plans now on the table and present a unified programme to the Quartet. “The plan has been very well received by the Arab world, well received by Arafat and received positively by Israel’s minister of defence and Prime Minister Sharon,” Mr. Møller said after talks with Mr. Sharon. (AFP, AP, Reuters)

One IDF soldier was killed and another wounded by two gunmen in the northern Gaza Strip, between the “Dugit” and “Nissanit” settlements. The Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades claimed responsibility for the shooting, saying the gunman died in the attack. In another attack, one soldier was killed and three others wounded when an explosive device detonated under a Merkava 2 tank near the “Kissufim” crossing, on a track used by units patrolling the security fence between Israel and Gaza and not far from near the Maghazi refugee camp in central Gaza. A caller who said he was from the Popular Resistance Committee told Reuters by telephone the group was responsible for the attack. (Ha’aretz, Reuters)

The trial of West Bank Fatah leader and Palestinian Council member Marwan Barghouti opened in the Tel Aviv Magistrates Court with the defendant reportedly refusing to recognize the authority of the Israeli Court and to be represented by a Court-appointed lawyer. “There’s a mistake here. The one who should be sitting here (as a defendant) is the Government of Israel,” Mr. Barghouti told the three-judge panel in fluent Hebrew. “You have no right to try me.” (Ha’aretz)

Israeli helicopter gunships had fired missiles at a Palestinian police station and a metal factory at the Khan Yunis refugee camp in the southern Gaza Strip, wounding one person, Palestinian security officials said. The IDF confirmed the operation, saying the factory had made ammunition for militants, an allegation its owner denied. Separately, three Palestinians were wounded, one seriously, in clashes with Israeli troops that broke out in Jenin after the IDF tried to arrest militants in the town and the refugee camp. (AFP, DPA, Ha’aretz, The Jerusalem Post, Reuters)

Defence Minister Ben-Eliezer approved demolitions orders for the homes of four Palestinians in East Jerusalem who had been arrested by the IDF last month. The men were accused of belonging to a secret cell of the Hamas. The families of the four suspected militants, who were accused of helping plan bomb attacks inside Israel, were given 48 hours to appeal to Israel’s Supreme Court. (AFP, DPA)

The IDF was reportedly on high alert at the start of the Jewish New Year. According to media reports, police intercepted a car loaded with 600 kg of explosives on its way from the northern West Bank to Israel. (AFP, DPA, Ha’aretz, The Jerusalem Post, Reuters)

6

The IDF reportedly cut the Gaza Strip into three sectors with roadblocks overnight in order to impede the movement of “terrorists.” The roadblocks were set up near the settlement block of “Gush Katif” in the south and the “Netzarim” settlement close to Gaza City in the north, a statement said.” (AFP)

In an interview with Maariv, Prime Minister Sharon said “Oslo doesn’t exist any more, Camp David doesn’t exist any more, neither does Taba. We will not return to these places.” (AFP)

Two Palestinians were killed in an exchange of fire in Jenin, one of them reportedly a member of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades. An Israeli military source said troops had spotted two armed men “moving suspiciously” during a curfew in the city and had shot at them. (AFP, DPA, Ha’aretz, Reuters)

An IDF panel, set up early last week by IDF Chief of Staff Moshe Ya’alon under a directive issued by Israel’s Defence Minister Ben-Eliezer, released its findings on the deaths of 13 Palestinian civilians in three recent incidents. The committee, headed by Maj.-Gen. Yitzhak Harel, found that soldiers followed correct rules of engagement in all three cases. Based on the findings, the IDF will not take disciplinary measures against any of the officers or their subordinates involved in the incidents. The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights reportedly said the next day that the inquiry was a “joke” and called for the establishment of “a neutral and impartial investigating committee to investigate war crimes committed by Israeli occupying forces.” (AFP, Ha’aretz)

7

IDF soldiers patrolling Jenin had fired APC-mounted machine-guns at a crowd of stone-throwing Palestinian boys, wounding four of them, aged 11 to 15 years old, one seriously, Palestinian witnesses and medics said. Two Palestinian boys aged 13 and 14 had been wounded in Tulkarm when tanks fired in the direction of people violating a curfew, hospital officials said. Separately, the IDF had reportedly arrested 2 Palestinians in Ilar, near Tulkarm, and one in Issawiya, near Ramallah. Seventeen more were arrested in Yatta, south of Hebron; five of them allegedly from Fatah. (AFP, Ha’aretz, Reuters)

In Gaza, army troops and up to 40 tanks and APCs had raided the city of Deir al-Balah, seizing a local leader of the Islamic Jihad and three brothers in his home, and had demolished four workshops suspected of producing mortars and Qassam rockets to be used in attacks on Israeli settlements, the IDF said. Security sources said troops had blown up empty buildings belonging to the Palestinian civil emergency service and Fatah. (Reuters)

Prime Minister Sharon told Israeli Public Radio that “Any debate on dismantling the settlements would be wrong, because it could give an impression of weakness” to Palestinians, and the issue “will not be touched upon until discussions on a final settlement.” Mr. Sharon also insisted that he did have his “own plan”: “As a first stage Palestinians have to stop terrorism, violence and inciting violence and there must be a really different (Palestinian) Authority,” then the two sides might discuss an “interim arrangement”, ahead of further talks on a “permanent settlement.” Mr. Sharon declined to be drawn on how much of the occupied territories he would eventually be prepared to hand over to the Palestinians, saying this would be “laying down my cards in advance.” (AFP)

Ahmed Abdel Rahman, Secretary-General of the Palestinian Authority cabinet, said the PA might review recognition of the State of Israel that all signed agreements between the two sides had depended on, telling reporters the move was a reaction to Prime Minister Sharon’s decision to cancel all signed deals with the Palestinians. Mr. Abdel Rahman urged the Palestinians to concentrate on resisting Israeli military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, adding that “We are in need of reforms, but ending the occupation, which is a real reform, must be the top priority. Corruption and disorganization would stop after the occupation ends.” (DPA)

8

Two Palestinians were killed late in the day by Israeli army gunfire in the south of the Gaza Strip near the Sufa checkpoint that leads to Israel, in a sector under Israeli control, Palestinian security sources said. The IDF confirmed an armed incident near the Sufa checkpoint, saying that “troops noticed two suspects who were trying to climb the fence separating the Gaza Strip from Israel,” and opened fire in the direction of the two men. There was no indication whether the two Palestinians were armed. (AFP)

9

The Palestinian Council met in Ramallah for the first time since 15 May. Israel had banned its Gaza-based members, out of the total number of 86, from attending the session, after PM Sharon said no one involved in “terrorist” activities would be allowed to Ramallah. The other Gaza-based members refused to use their travel permits in protest the ban, which Palestinian officials said effectively affected 12 deputies, as one was dead and another had resigned. Palestinian officials also said the lawmakers would take part in the meeting via a video link. (Ha’aretz, Reuters)

Addressing the session, Chairman Arafat said “The Palestinian people stand today firmly against all kinds of terrorism, whether it is by states, groups or individuals,” and condemned “all acts of terrorism against Israeli civilians”, saying that “the Israelis are using these attacks to hide their crimes against our people, and these attacks give Israel the excuse to kill, destroy, assassinate and violate the international laws and signed agreements.” (AFP, DPA)

European Parliament member Luisa Morgantini denounced Israel’s decision to ban the Gaza-based members from attending the meeting of the Palestinian Council in Ramallah after claiming they were “involved in terrorist activities”. “Once more, the Israeli Government has attempted to obstruct the operation of legitimate Palestinian institutions,” she said. Members of the Palestinian Council based in Gaza had the right to exercise their functions, Ms. Morgantini said. However, Palestinian officials said the Gaza-based members, including those who had refused to use their travel permits in protest of the ban, took part in the meeting via a video link. (DPA)

The Israeli Interior Ministry, in an unprecedented move, revoked the citizenship of an Israeli Arab, saying he was responsible for helping suicide bombers enter Israel. His Israeli identity card had enabled him to move around Israel legally, the Interior Ministry said. The Association of Civil Rights in Israel said in a statement that the decision violated the basic human right to hold citizenship, and called for new legislation to deny the Interior Minister’s authority to revoke citizenship. (AFP, DPA, Reuters)

A Palestinian civilian was shot and seriously wounded by the IDF as he had left a mosque in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip. The shot had been fired from a nearby army post Palestinian security officials said. But an Israeli military spokesman said they had “no knowledge of any automatic weapons or tank fire” in the sector. (AFP)

10

Foreign Minister Peres met in a West Jerusalem hotel with a Palestinian delegation headed by senior Palestinian negotiator and PA Minister Saeb Erakat, both sides said. “We cannot speak of a positive result after the meeting,” Mr. Erakat told AFP about the meeting, adding that political, economic, humanitarian and security issues had been discussed. However, the Israeli Foreign Ministry issued a statement at the end of the meeting saying Israel would open the cities of Jericho and Bethlehem to tourists. Both sides said they had agreed to meet again “in the coming days”. The statement also said that Defence Minister Ben-Eliezer and Palestinian Interior Minister Abdel Razzek Al-Yahya would soon meet in what would be an “opportunity for the Palestinians to raise the possibility of adding Hebron to the Gaza-Bethlehem plan.” Prior to the meeting, Israel transferred 70 million shekels (US$4.8 millions) in previously frozen tax revenues to the PA. (AFP, DPA, Ha’aretz, The Jerusalem Post)

West Bank Fatah leader Hussein Al-Sheikh said Fatah “agree[d] in principle” with a EU draft statement banning attacks on Israeli civilians. Mr. Hussein Al-Sheikh said Fatah was holding discussions with the EU regarding the document. The talks centered on whether Israeli settlers living, and soldiers serving, in the Occupied Palestinian Territory should be included in the ban on attacks. In return, said Mr. Al-Sheikh, Fatah wanted guarantees that Israel would respond to the declaration by ceasing to attack Palestinian civilians. According to Ha’aretz, which said it had obtained a draft copy of the declaration, Fatah was to state that “in accordance with the higher interests of the Palestinian people, and with our moral values, tolerant religions and belief, we, the Fatah movement reject and we will prevent any attacks against Israeli civilians.” However, the draft text added “we remain committed to our legitimate right to resist the occupation of our land occupied in 1967”. Israel Radio reported that the statement is the result of negotiations between Fatah leaders and EU officials headed by special envoy Alistair Crooke. (AFP, DPA, Ha’aretz, The Jerusalem Post, Reuters)

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has increased hunger among Palestinians at an alarming rate over the past months, with high levels of acute malnutrition among children according to Brian Thompson, senior nutritionist with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). “The situation was largely due to restrictions in the movement of goods and people and destruction of market access,” said Mr. Thompson, who had visited the area in June at the invitation of the Palestinian Authority. Mr. Thompson told Reuters in an interview that an August survey, carried out in collaboration with the US John Hopkins University and CARE, found that 9.3 per cent of a sample of 936 Palestinian children aged under five were acutely malnourished. (Reuters)

State Department spokesman Richard Boucher, in response to Chairman Arafat’s speech to the Palestinian Council on 9 September, said they had heard “the words about condemning violence and terror” before, and were “always welcom[ing] remarks like that”. “Our view remains that we need to work toward Palestinian civil and security reform so that the Palestinian people can have leaders in positions of authority who can take responsibility for the transformation of Palestinian institutions,” he told reporters. (AFP)

PA Information Minister Yasser Abed Rabbo told the Palestinian Council during its second day of meetings, that Israel and the US were trying to delay Palestinian elections in a bid to undermine the Palestinian leadership. “The only obstacle to the elections is not an internal one, it is Israel and the United States, who do not want elections because they don’t want a strengthening of the Palestinian national leadership,” he said. He noted that that “real reform will come in implementing the plan for elections. There will be no reform without elections. The polls should take place on their allotted date. We have to launch a political campaign on the Arab and international levels to ensure that the Palestinians will have their elections,” he said. (AFP)

A Palestinian man was shot dead and two others were injured, with one later dying, during a gunbattle in the West Bank when the IDF seeking to capture a member of the Palestinian security forces, Palestinian hospital sources said. The incident happened after Israeli forces descended upon the office of military information in Beituniya, in the area of Ramallah. In Nablus, the IDF arrested a leading member of Fatah, Palestinians said. (AFP, DPA)

11

IDF troops, backed by tanks and APCs, moved into Beit Lahya and Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip, prompting an exchange of fire with armed Palestinians, in which two Israeli soldiers were wounded. After searching mosques and homes for suspected militants, arresting ten Palestinians, and destroying one house, the Israeli forces reportedly withdrew six hours later. (AFP, DPA, Ha’aretz)

The Israeli Security Cabinet approved the Jerusalem Security and Seam Line Plan as well as Prime Minister Sharon’s recommendation to leave Rachel’s Tomb, located on the northern outskirts of Bethlehem, under Israeli control and to allow Israeli citizens free access to the tomb, Israel Radio reported. A road would be built for this purpose. “This Israeli project is a dangerous escalation, because Rachel’s Tomb is in an industrial zone that includes a hospital and 3,800 inhabitants, who risk being isolated from the town by this road,” Bethlehem Mayor Hanna Nasser said, adding that “more than 95 per cent of the lands that will be expropriated for the construction of this road belong to Christians ... In this way, Israel is pushing Christians into exile.” (AFP, Ha’aretz)

Chairman Arafat set 20 January 2003 as the date for the presidential and parliamentary elections, with a nine-day period starting 14 December 2002 for candidates to register. “The Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and Jerusalem are invited to free and direct general elections, to elect the head of the Palestinian National Authority and members of the Legislative Council on Monday, 20 January 2003,” said the decree read by parliamentary speaker Ahmed Qurei. (AFP, Reuters)

IDF and Israeli police evacuated the settlement outpost of “Ein Horon” close to the “(Har) Brakha” settlement, south-west of Nablus. According to reports, several settlers living there were evacuated, a mobile home was removed, and a residential building sealed. Defense officials told Ha’aretz that the evacuation was not coordinated with the “Yesha Council of Jewish Settlements” and that Defence Minister Ben-Eliezer was determined to evacuate another 20 outposts, regardless of whether the “Yesha Council” agreed to cooperate or not. The Council issued a statement protesting the operation and accusing accused Mr. Ben Eliezer of “using force to evacuate residents without a Court expulsion order.” (AFP, Ha’aretz)

Thirty Palestinians were arrested as the IDF closed two checkpoints on the road linking the settlement of “Kfar Darom” and the “Gush Katif” settlement block, in the central Gaza Strip, Palestinian security sources said. After the detainees were led away, well over 100 others, including a number of UNRWA workers, were left stranded between the two checkpoints. By the evening, the two checkpoints had still not been opened, and those caught in the no-man’s land remained stranded, the sources said. An IDF spokesman denied there had been any arrests in the area and was not able to give further details about the incident. Other military sources reportedly confirmed the two checkpoints on the road had been closed and a number of people caught in-between, but would not release details of the activity in the area. (AFP)

The UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) said in a report that “prolonged occupation and the protracted economic crisis since 2000 have set the Palestinian economy on a path to ‘de-development’, posing threats to its short and medium-term viability.” The conflict had now exhausted the economic ability of Palestinian families to adapt to hardship, making them far more dependent on outside food and financial support, it added. The report estimated that the crisis had cost about US$2.4 billion in gross national income between October 2000 and March 2002. The Palestinian Authority was also “effectively bankrupt and dependent on donor aid to maintain current expenditures”, according to UNCTAD, which also pointed out that the PA’s performance record “shows that there remains room for improvement”. UNCTAD noted that the PA had embarked on reform in June and emphasized that a pre-condition for sustained development was freedom from Israeli intervention. (AFP)

12

The PA condemned the decision by the Israeli Security Cabinet the previous day (11 September) to retain military control of Rachel’s Tomb, located at the northern outskirts of Bethlehem. “The decision is a continuation of the aggressive path carried out by the Israeli Government against the Palestinian people by imposing facts on the ground,” the Palestinian Authority said in a statement. An Israeli official said the decision was “part of the Jerusalem fence plan, but as regards Rachel’s Tomb we have no intention of reclaiming sovereignty,” adding that the Israeli military would not meddle in Bethlehem’s municipal affairs. “Under the interim deals, the Palestinians were obligated to guarantee the safe access of Jewish worshippers to holy sites, but they failed to do so. That’s why we have to act now”, the official said. (Ha’aretz, The Jerusalem Post, Reuters)

Three Palestinian civilians had been wounded in Nablus’ old city during a clash between armed Palestinians and the IDF, medical staff reportedly said. Also, five children were admitted to Nablus’ central hospital after having been beaten up by settlers near the Palestinian village of Huwwara, south of Nablus, the same sources said. Three Palestinians had been slightly wounded during clashes in Jenin, while a member of Hamas and one belonging to Fatah were arrested there, security sources reported. (AFP)

The IDF demolished eight Palestinian houses in pre-dawn raids in the Gaza Strip, including the home of a dead militant’s family, witnesses said. Shooting reportedly erupted between the Israeli troops and Palestinian gunmen as tanks and armoured bulldozers moved into the Shijaia neighbourhood east of Gaza City. One Palestinian had been seriously hurt Palestinian officials said. Three houses were destroyed in Shijaia, two in the Maghazi refugee camp in central Gaza and three in the Rafah refugee camp in southern Gaza, witnesses and Palestinian security officials said. The IDF denied deliberately demolishing homes in Rafah and said heavy vehicles searching for tunnels used for arms smuggling may have damaged some “structures.” (AFP, DPA, Reuters)

13

Israeli tanks and armoured vehicles, backed by helicopter gunships, rolled into the Rafah and Brazil refugee camps in the southern Gaza Strip, where they stayed for several hours and prompted gun battles with Palestinian militants. An IDF statement said the raid followed “serious recent terrorist attacks on troops” and its forces had withdrawn after arresting several suspected militants. Palestinian sources said a member of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades had been killed and seven others had been hurt, three of them seriously. Israeli forces had badly damaged six metal workshops and 20 houses, leaving families homeless, Palestinians said. Soldiers had also broken into the Fatah offices, destroying equipment and causing considerable damage. The IDF said its troops had blown up six foundries used by Hamas to manufacture Qassam-2 surface-to-surface rockets. The previous night, a Qassam-2 rocket had hit a house in Saad, an Israeli village two miles from the Gaza border fence. The house had been damaged but no one had been hurt. Hamas’ armed wing said it had fired the rocket in response to an earlier IDF raid on the Shijaia neighbourhood, east of Gaza City, in which a dead militant’s home had been demolished. In a separate incident, an explosion in a home in the town of Beit Lahia, outside Gaza City, had killed three brothers of a Palestinian militant, who had also been wounded in the blast. Palestinian police were investigating the cause of the explosion. The IDF had no comment. In the West Bank, Israeli forces had arrested 19 suspected militants, including a man they described as a senior member of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades. (AFP, AP, DPA, Reuters)

On the ninth anniversary of the signing in Washington of the so called “Oslo agreement”, a poll published in Ma’ariv showed that 80 per cent of Israeli respondents felt that Chairman Arafat was irrelevant and 79 per cent said that the interim accords were no longer in force. The survey was conducted by the Market Watch polling agency, which interviewed 590 Israeli adults and cited a margin of error of 4 percentage points. (AP)

14

IDF troops took over the municipality and five other buildings in the town of Yatta, 8km south of Hebron, evicting the people inside; closed off all entry roads to the town; and used bulldozers to block its streets with huge piles of rubbish while conducting house-to-house searches. “Troops have gone into Yatta to search for militants and troublemakers before the [Yom Kippur] holiday in order to ensure there are no clashes,” an IDF official told AFP . (AFP)

“Nabil Sha’ath met [President] Bush at a reception in New York and they had a ten-minute discussion about the situation in the Middle East,” a Palestinian official told AFP, adding, that “during the conversation, Bush said some good things.” A senior US Administration official confirmed President Bush had shaken hands with Mr. Sha’ath at a reception on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly attended by most heads of UN delegations. “[President] Bush committed again to do everything he said in his speech concerning the Palestinian issue and how it is necessary and important for the Palestinian people to have a Palestinian State,” Mr. Sha’ath told WAFA by telephone. “He said it was necessary to end the conflict in the Middle East and that he would do his best to reach this aim,” that “all parties were responsible for what is happening, and that the Israeli side had to end the occupation and stop the suffering of the Palestinians,” and that “he was in pain when he saw the pain of the Palestinians.” (AFP)

Reportedly in response to a rocket and mortar fire at an Israeli settlement in the Katif block, IDF troops, backed by tanks and APCs, entered PA-controlled areas in the Gaza Strip, including Beit Lahia and Beit Hanoun. The troops took control of a major intersection, destroyed parts of electricity infrastructure in Gaza City, as well as farmland, an irrigation pool and roads in the area. Two Israeli soldiers were reportedly lightly wounded in an exchange of fire with armed Palestinians, and ten Palestinians were arrested. An IDF spokesman also said part of the main north-south road in Gaza had been damaged to prevent terrorists from moving within the territory and to prevent mortar attacks. (AP, Arutz 7, Ha’aretz)

The Palestinian farming sector has lost US$750 million since the intifada started two years ago, the PA Agriculture Ministry said, adding that “The Israeli occupation forces destroyed their agricultural land and Palestinian farms and have prevented farmers from arriving on their land.” (AFP)

15

About 200 Palestinians defied an Israeli-imposed curfew to march through Nablus in protest of a new security checkpoint in the middle of the town. It had been established two weeks earlier and severely disrupted traffic between the eastern and western parts of the city. (AP)

A Palestinian was seriously wounded in clashes with Israeli forces in Jenin, Palestinian security officials said. The officials said intense exchanges of fire occurred and Israeli tanks had taken up positions in various parts of the town, but no further details were available. (AFP)

16

Israeli soldiers in the Gaza Strip shot and killed a Palestinian man near the town of Deir al-Balah between the “Kissufim” and “Gush Katif” IDF checkpoints, Palestinian sources reported. The IDF said the man was shot after tossing a grenade at an Israeli checkpoint, without causing any casualties. Palestinians said the man was killed inside his car when he failed to heed Israeli soldiers’ demands to step out of his car and join other Palestinians ordered to stand at the roadside. (DPA, Reuters)

A training course for some 30 members of Palestinian intelligence services, police and civil defence in both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, started in Jericho’s Intercontinental Hotel. The course was run by international security experts, including CIA and security officials from Jordan and Egypt. (AFP)

The Palestinian Authority called for the international community to take action against Israel’s plan to annex the holy site of Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem. “Urgent messages” had been sent for the US, Russia, the EU and the UN to press Israel “to scrap its decision to annex Rachel’s Tomb,” Senior Palestinian negotiator and PA Minister Saeb Erakat told AFP. He also called for the IDF to lift its curfews and closure of Palestinian towns in the West Bank. (AFP, Ha’aretz)

17

Palestinian witnesses and security sources said about 30 Israeli tanks and armoured vehicles made incursions about two kilometres into the city of Khan Yunis overnight and demolished the houses of two Palestinian militants. The IDF said in a statement that in an overnight operation near Khan Yunis it had arrested 23 Palestinians “suspected of hostile activities against Israel.” Palestinian security officials said 15 were later released. The IDF had also destroyed nine makeshift bomb factories north of the town, the army said. The Palestinians said the workshops had been used for making farm implements and kitchen units, with no links to militant groups. There were no reports of casualties. (AFP, DPA, Reuters)

The Members of the Quartet outlined a three-phase road map to achieve the shared vision of two States, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security. Following their meeting at UNHQ in New York, the Quartet’s principals, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan; Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov; United States Secretary of State Colin Powell and Foreign Minister Per Stig Møller of Denmark for the EU, issued a communiqué in which they unveiled their plan, which aims to achieve a comprehensive final settlement within three years. Also taking part in the talks were Javier Solana, the EU’s High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy, and Chris Patten, the European Commission’s External Relations Commissioner.

The initial phase of the plan, from now until the first half of 2003, involved performance-based criteria for comprehensive security reform, Israeli withdrawals to their positions of September 2000 as security improved, and support for the Palestinians to hold free, fair and credible elections early next year. The first phase should also include a ministerial-level meeting of an “Ad Hoc Liaison Committee” to review the humanitarian situation and prospects for economic development in the West Bank and Gaza, and to identify priority areas for donor assistance, including to the reform process, before the end of the year, according to the communiqué.

In the plan’s second phase, next year, “our efforts should focus on the option of creating a Palestinian State with provisional borders based upon a new constitution, as a way station to a permanent status settlement,” said the participants.

In its final phase, from 2004 to 2005, the plan envisaged Israeli-Palestinian negotiations aimed at a permanent status solution in 2005. “Consistent with the vision expressed by President Bush, this means that the Israeli occupation that began in 1967 will be ended through a settlement negotiated between the parties and based on UN Security Council resolutions 242 and 338, with Israeli withdrawal to secure and recognized borders” the Quartet said. Concerning reform of the PA, the Quartet welcomed “a number of significant achievements” realized “under very difficult circumstances,” and pledged to continue supporting Palestinian efforts to prioritize reform benchmarks, particularly on the issue of elections, judicial reform, and the role of civil society. “Both the reform effort and the political process must include Israeli measures, consistent with Israel's legitimate security concerns, to improve the lives of Palestinians, including allowing the resumption of normal economic activity, facilitating the movement of goods, people and essential services, and to lift curfew and closures.” The communiqué welcomed Israel’s decision to release part of the Palestinian revenue it has withheld, and called for a continuation of this process and the re-establishment of regular monthly revenue transfers to the Palestinian Ministry of Finance. In addition, the Quartet stressed that “Israeli settlement activity in the occupied territories must stop.”

On the humanitarian situation, the communiqué called on Israel and the Palestinians to move quickly to ameliorate the sharply deteriorating situation in the West Bank and Gaza. “In particular, Israel must ensure full, safe and unfettered access for international and humanitarian personnel,” it said.

The Quartet also called on the Palestinians to work with the United States and other regional partners to reform the Palestinian security services, strengthen policing and law and order for the civilian population, and “fight the terror that has severely undermined the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinians.”

The communiqué stressed that the plan “will not succeed unless it addresses political, economic, humanitarian, and institutional dimensions.” Progress between the three phases “would be strictly based on the parties’ compliance with specific performance benchmarks to be monitored and assessed by the Quartet.” (UN News Service at http://www.un.org/news)

A bomb exploded in a Palestinian elementary school south of Hebron, in an area under full Israeli security control, slightly wounding five pupils, according to Palestinian officials and IDF sources. Israeli police was investigating the incident. (Ha’aretz, The Jerusalem Post, Reuters)

Israel lifted its curfew on the West Bank cities of Ramallah, Tulkarm and Jenin for several hours, after a tight 24-hour Yom Kippur curfew had also been lifted. (AFP, DPA, Ha’aretz, The Jerusalem Post, Reuters)

Nine Palestinian schools opened in Nablus in defiance of an IDF curfew that had prevented them from starting the school year. Education officials said they had planned to open 12 schools, but soldiers prevented three from opening by dispersing pupils, sometimes by firing into the air, as they headed to class in violation of the curfew. “We insist on our children’s right to education and challenge the curfew, which has closed schools and threatens to take away our children’s future,” Nablus Governor Mahmoud Al-Aloul told Reuters. (Reuters)

Senior Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat expressed disappointment with the three-phase Road Map, adopted at the aforementioned Quartet meeting, saying it was “a general statement. It doesn’t resolve anything.” Mr. Erakat said the Palestinian side had hoped “the Quartet would stop the Israeli aggression, the siege and closure, and the Israeli terrorism against our people in order to move on with the negotiations,” adding that the Quartet was “ignoring the timing” of Palestinian elections on 20 January, and noting that the leadership had hoped the Quartet would send international observers to help with the electoral process. The Road Map “also ignored the statement made by [the EU Presidency, Danish Foreign Minister Per Stig] Møller and the offers he had made to Chairman Arafat about final status negotiations,” Mr. Erakat said, referring to a meeting between the two earlier this month. “The Quartet spoke about helping Palestinians but we want them to help us by finishing [Prime Minister] Sharon’s terrorism, and by pushing Israel to withdraw completely from all of the Palestinian territories and stop the construction of settlements,” Mr. Erakat said. Speaking to reporters in Ramallah after meeting Irish Defence Minister Michael Smith, Chairman Arafat said the Palestinians were “facing a military escalation on our cities, villages, people, women and students”. “In spite of all this, we are willing to push the peace process forward, especially now that the Quartet is meeting and there was an important step and we hope it will be implemented on the ground immediately and positively,” Mr. Arafat said. His spokesman, Nabil Abu Rudeineh, made it clear the Palestinians wanted a more detailed timetable for an Israeli withdrawal from reoccupied Palestinian-controlled areas and the establishment of a Palestinian State. (AFP, Ha’aretz, Reuters)

Israeli Defence Minister Ben-Eliezer ruled out any annexation of Rachel’s Tomb to Israel as he toured the site just outside of Bethlehem. “The Government is committed to ensuring the safety of Jewish pilgrims and has considered three options to this end,” Mr. Ben- Eliezer told Israeli public radio. “I hope that the best solution will be found but there’ s no question of annexation,” he said. (AFP)

“We refuse to be soldiers in an army of occupation,” 213 young Israelis called up for national military service said in a petition, addressed to Prime Minister Sharon, Defence Minister Ben-Eliezer and Education Minister Limor Livnat, a spokesman for the petitioners, Hagai Matar, said. The petition, which was received by AFP, said Israel was “committing war crimes and violating human rights” in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. “Among us there are some who refuse to wear the uniform, others refuse to serve beyond the Green Line and others will find different ways of refusing to serve the occupation,” said the text, adding that “the occupation is not only immoral, it also damages our security as it is driving the Palestinians to despair and provoking acts of terrorism.” (AFP)

The Israeli Supreme Court upheld an IDF order to destroy the homes of two Palestinian suicide bombers in Abu Dis, on the edge of East Jerusalem, rejecting appeals by the bombers’ families. The two young Palestinian men killed 11 Israelis on 1 December 2001, when they simultaneously blew themselves up on a crowded pedestrian mall in the centre of Jerusalem. (AFP)

The IDF demolished part of a low-cost housing project under construction near Ramallah. “They were building the structures in Area C. The demolition took place after the completion of all the legal processes,” said Peter Lerner, spokesman for the Israeli civil administration. But the chief coordinator of the Palestinian Workers’ Federation, Mahmud Ziadeh, dismissed this as “lies”, saying the 250-home project for poor workers lay within an area under Palestinian administration. Mr. Ziadeh also said a full 34 homes had been destroyed, not “15 half-built structures” as Mr. Lerner had said. (AFP)

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At least two people were reportedly killed and three injured in a suicide bombing at a bus station in Umm el-Fahem in northern Israel. Two of the injured were said to be in serious condition. In a separate incident, suspected Palestinian militants killed an Israeli motorist at a junction between the Israeli city of Hadera and the Palestinian city of Jenin, Israel Radio reported. The militants opened fire on the car, which overturned, the radio said, adding a second Israeli was lightly to moderately injured. (AFP, DPA, Ha’aretz, The Jerusalem Post, Reuters)

IDF troops entered Tamoun, about 15 kilometres southeast of Jenin, to arrest suspected militants, and shot and killed a Palestinian man and wounded another as they tried to flee by car, Palestinian witnesses and the IDF said. An IDF spokesman said the men attempted to run down soldiers in their car, the troops suspected the men were planning an attack and the troops later found two rifles belonging to the men. (AFP, The Jerusalem Post, Reuters)

Israeli soldiers stationed at Rafah opened fire on a delegation headed by the Commissioner-General of UNRWA, Peter Hansen. Reporters accompanying Mr. Hansen said about 12 shots were fired at their convoy. The bullets hit the ground in front of the vehicles. The delegation, which included representatives of several donor countries and PA officials, was visiting an area of the camp where refugee homes had previously been destroyed by the IDF. No one was injured, according to a United Nations spokesman, who said the world body would file an official complaint about the incident with the Israeli authorities. Earlier, UNRWA had officially handed over 97 new shelters to refugee families in the Rafah camp whose houses had been destroyed by the IDF. (AFP, DPA, Reuters)

The IDF said in a statement that it had captured during overnight raids eight Palestinians suspected of involvement in anti-Israeli attacks. One of the people held was a suicide bomber planning an attack out of Nablus, the IDF stated, without giving more details. Four of the detainees, seized in the village of Itar, near Tulkarm, were members of Islamic Jihad that had claimed responsibility for the earlier suicide bombing at a bus stop in the Israeli Arab town of Umm al-Fahm, which had resulted in the deaths of an Israeli policeman and the bomber. Three of those arrested were suspected of involvement in the slaying of a 67-year-old Jewish settler, whose charred body had been found at a rubbish dump on the edge of East Jerusalem. Police said the three had confessed to having killed the man, whom they knew, adding that they appeared to have acted out of criminal motives. (AFP, DPA, Reuters)

19

A Palestinian suicide bomber blew himself up on a city bus in central Tel Aviv, killing at least five people and injuring more than 50. One of the wounded was reported in critical and seven others in serious condition, while the remainder had suffered moderate to light injuries. Hamas claimed responsibility for the bombing. Hamas’ founder Sheikh Ahmed Yassin told Reuters that the attack confirmed Israel’s failure “in suppressing the will of the Palestinian people or in pushing them to surrender or to raise the white flag” and indicated that Israel was “unable to achieve security for their people as long as the Palestinian people remain displaced and occupied”. A Palestinian Authority statement said “The Palestinian leadership condemn[ed] all attacks on civilians, be they Palestinian or Israeli” and added that “This attack…, like other previous attacks, totally contradict[ed] [the Palestinian] high national interests and [gave Prime Minister] Sharon and his occupation army the excuse to kill, repress, expand settlements and continue the siege”. The PA statement called for international intervention and a resolution to withdraw Israeli troops, lift the siege, and dispatch international monitors. A spokesman for Mr. Sharon, David Baker, said the attack “prov[ed] that Palestinian terrorism continu[ed] without cessation” and noted that Israel would “take the necessary steps”. (AFP, DPA, Reuters)

The following statement was issued by the Spokesman for UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan:

The Secretary-General is appalled by the recent acts of violence in the Middle East that have pierced a period of relative calm. He strongly reiterates the statement of the Quartet on 17 September calling for an end to violence and terror and deploring and condemning such acts as morally repugnant. He hopes that in the period after the two suicide attacks on Israelis and the bomb planted at a Palestinian school over the past three days the parties will act with restraint.

The Secretary-General believes that only a comprehensive solution developed through a process that addresses political, security, humanitarian and economic issues in parallel can ensure real security for the parties. The commitment of the parties to the roadmap agreed at the recent meeting of the Quartet coupled with an effective Quartet monitoring mechanism remains the best path to that solution.

(UN press release SG/SM/8392 of 19 September 2002)

EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana said in a statement that the “morally repugnant” suicide bomb attack in Tel Aviv could “only undermine the efforts of dialogue, peace and reconciliation needed in the Middle East”. He noted that “more regrettably”, the attack came “after a renewed commitment of the international community towards the final settlement of the Middle East conflict and several weeks of relative calm and serious debate among Palestinian groups about the use of violence against innocent civilians”. At the White House, after meeting with Secretary of State Powell, President Bush said “We strongly condemn terror… We strongly condemn violence. And we continue to send our message to the good people of that region that if you’re interested in peace, that if you want people to be able to grow up in a peaceful world, all parties must do everything they can to reject and stop violence”. (DPA)

Israeli soldiers shot dead a ten-year-old Palestinian boy in Ramallah, Palestinian sources reported. The boy had been walking in the street as the city was under curfew when he was shot through the chest by heavy machine-gun fire from an armoured vehicle, they added. In a separate incident, four Palestinian children attending an informal school set up to deal with the Israeli curfew in the Balata refugee camp, near Nablus, had been wounded by Israeli fire, Palestinian officials said. The students, aged between 10 and 12, had been lightly injured when troops fired in the air close to their class, the officials said. The alternative schooling system had been set up by local authorities and Palestinian factions after pupils had been unable to go to school because of the around-the-clock curfew imposed on the area for two weeks. The local factions committee, which had helped organize the classes, said the IDF’s shooting aimed at disrupting even those alternative classes. (AFP, DPA)

Following the suicide bombing in Tel Aviv, the Israeli Cabinet decided unanimously to “isolate” Chairman Arafat in his Ramallah headquarters and to demand the surrender of some twenty wanted Palestinian militants located there. The question of expelling Mr. Arafat from Ramallah to the Gaza Strip or any other destination was reportedly raised in the emergency Cabinet session, but was ruled out after Ministers Peres and Ben-Eliezer objected to such a move and senior security officials warned that it would be detrimental to Israel’s interests. The IDF imposed a siege on Chairman Arafat’s Ramallah compound and started destroying some of the structures there. Two of Mr. Arafat’s bodyguards were wounded in what the IDF described as an exchange of fire at the start of the operation. Israeli forces, spearheaded by several dozen tanks backed by helicopter gunships, reportedly moved several kilometers into the northern Gaza Strip, through the villages of Beit Hanoun, Beit Lahiya and Jabalia. Palestinian hospital officials said a man and a woman had been killed by Israeli gunfire and seven had been injured in the latter operation. An IDF statement said several Palestinian gunmen had shot at troops and had been hit by return fire; three soldiers had been wounded. The statement added that the army had destroyed seven buildings where weapons were made and an explosives lab. (AFP, DPA, Ha’aretz, Reuters)

20

Chairman Arafat reportedly remained unhurt in his Ramallah headquarters, besieged by Israeli forces that gradually destroyed all buildings and offices in the compound, leaving only the main building standing. A Palestinian security officer, who was standing in Chairman Arafat’s dining room, was shot dead by an Israeli sniper who fired through a window, Palestinians inside the compound told DPA . Twenty Palestinians had surrendered to the IDF hours after the siege had begun, and an Israeli military source said “they weren’t all the 20” on Israel’s wanted list, which included Tawfiq Tirawi, head of West Bank general intelligence. Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat told AFP from Ramallah that the Palestinians asked “all the international community, notably the United States, United Nations, European Union, Russia and Arab countries, to act immediately to bring an end to Israeli aggression, especially against President Arafat”. MENA later quoted Mr. Erakat as saying that Prime Minister Sharon was now “destroying the peace process for good, by destroying what remains of the Palestinian Authority and threatening the life of Yasser Arafat”. Israeli Defence Minister Ben-Eliezer said Israel had no intention of expelling Chairman Arafat or of harming him physically and just intended to encircle and isolate him. (AFP, DPA, Ha’aretz, Reuters)

“Israel has a right to defend itself and to deal with security. But Israel also needs to bear in mind the consequences of action and Israel’s stake in the development of reforms in the Palestinian institution based on this progress”, White House spokesman Ari Fleischer told reporters. He added that “The Palestinians have responsibilities to make certain that they prevent attacks, halt attacks and arrest the militants who are responsible for any attacks”. “As practice shows, isolating the Palestinian leadership and blockading the Palestinian people does not avert the threat of terrorism”, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement, and urged both sides not to resort to violence and “emotional provocations”. Israel’s blockade “seriously hampers the Palestinian administration’s ability to fight against terrorism, and complicates the already dramatic situation on the Palestinian territories”, the Ministry noted. “Force cannot defeat force”, the Danish Presidency of the European Union said in a statement, which described the Israeli siege of Chairman Arafat’s headquarters as “counter-productive”. “The European Union is deeply concerned by the deployment of Israeli tanks in Ramallah and in the north of the Gaza Strip”, the statement said and called “on both sides to show their commitment to peace by acting with maximum restraint”. (AFP, Reuters)

Jordan’s Petra news agency said that, in a call to King Abdullah II, “President Arafat underscored the danger of the security situation in the Palestinian territories and urged all international forces to intervene immediately to lift the siege and defuse the tension”. From his part, King Abdullah pledged Jordan’s continued support for the Palestinian people and said he would continue to work towards a solution with the international community. In a similar conversation between Chairman Arafat and Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz reported by the official SPA news agency, the Crown Prince relayed to Mr. Arafat “the support of Saudi Arabia and its people for the brotherly Palestinian people in the face of the Israeli aggression until the end of the occupation and the establishment of a Palestinian State, with Jerusalem as its capital”. “President Mubarak warned against the consequences of [Israeli] military operations as they would lead to more revenge actions and destroy all the chances of reaching a settlement that could contain the dangerous situation”, MENA said referring to a telephone conversation between the President and Chairman Arafat. (AFP)

UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Terje Rø d-Larsen, briefing the Security Council, noted “a deeply unfortunate upsurge of violence in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza in recent days”. He said “Yesterday’s incursion and the renewed isolation of President Arafat’s compound undoubtedly weaken the position of those working for major reform”. “Improved security performance and humanitarian delivery are essential, but it will not be possible to sustain progress in either field without parallel movement in the political area”, Mr. Rød-Larsen said, arguing that the concept of “security first” would not work. Citing statistics from a new report produced by his office, he said Palestinian unemployment now hovered around 50 per cent, poverty levels had reached 70 per cent in Gaza and 55 per cent in the West Bank, and income losses were estimated at US$7.6 million a day, or $3.3 billion since October 2000. In addition, the Palestinian Authority was facing a fiscal crisis, as “this month, for instance, the cost of PA operations and supplies stands at $90 million, while the total resources available are less than $55 million”. Mr. Rød-Larsen also reported that the Secretary-General had told the parties that “in spite of high-level assurances of increased Israeli cooperation with humanitarian agencies” there had been only marginal improvements on the ground. (SC/7508 of 20 September 2002)

A 14-year-old Palestinian teenager had been killed by Israeli fire and 10 other young Palestinians had been injured in the southern Gaza Strip town of Rafah, Palestinian hospital sources said. The teenager had been hit in the head when Israeli troops and tanks guarding the border with Egypt had opened fire, the sources said, adding that he had died of his injuries in the hospital soon afterwards. (AFP)

Israeli police shut down the offices of a Palestinian sports and social club in East Jerusalem on the grounds they were really a front for the Palestinian Authority, Israel Public Radio reported. The action was carried out on the orders of Internal Security Minister Uzi Landau and was denounced by Sari Nusseibeh, who handles Jerusalem affairs for the Palestine Liberation Organization. “Like all Palestinians, Mr. Nusseibeh was interested that such an association operate, but he did not run it,” spokesman Dimitri Diliani said. (AFP)

21

IDF troops reportedly planted an Israeli flag on top of Chairman Arafat’s compound in Ramallah and demolished water pipes, the main kitchen and the pantry. Palestinians inside said there was enough water in rooftop tanks and stored food to last them for a few days. At some point during the day, Israeli soldiers, speaking in Arabic over loudspeakers, called on everyone inside the building to “come out immediately one by one with your hands up because a huge explosion is going to happen,” the AFP correspondent reported. A senior IDF officer taking reporters on a tour of the compound said Israel wanted 50 men to give themselves up. Army officials said the figure increased because Israel initially did not have a complete picture of who was inside. (AP)

“The military operation under way against the office of the President of the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah is unacceptable,” the French Foreign Ministry said in a statement “France asks for it to be halted immediately.” “Israel must stop the occupation of Arafat’s headquarters and Arafat must do his utmost to stop the terror,” Danish Foreign Minister Per Stig Møller, current holder of the EU Presidency, said in a statement “To limit the freedom of movement of the Palestinian leadership is not an effective way to fight terror.” UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw expressed concern at “the continuing deployment of Israeli troops in Ramallah,” calling it “unjustified” and saying that it was “hard to see how the action in Ramallah [would] solve the problem of Palestinian violence.” (AFP, FCO press release, Reuters)

Defence Minister Ben-Eliezer said he wanted to isolate Chairman Arafat, but not harm or expel him, and the troops would stay until the surrender of the wanted men, including the West Bank intelligence chief Tawfik Tirawi and the head of Force 17 Mahmoud Damra. Israel TV’s Channel Two, citing defense officials, said the ultimate objective of the assault was to confine Chairman Arafat to a tiny area in difficult conditions and prompt him to seek exile. (AP)

A number of demonstrations reportedly took place in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, protesting Israeli assault on Chairman Arafat’s compound in Ramallah. IDF troops fired tear gas and live bullets to disperse demonstrators. Two Palestinians, including a journalist, were killed by the fire. Two other Palestinians, who were seriously injured during the protests, died of their wounds early the next day. Two more people were killed in the refugee camps in Tulkarm, where gunmen traded fire with Israeli troops, and in Balata near Nablus. Separately, the IDF destroyed the houses of three suspected Palestinian militants in Qalqilya, two of them suspected of aiding and abetting a June 2001 Tel Aviv suicide bombing and the third a wanted Islamic Jihad activist. (AFP, AP)

Thousands of Palestinian schoolchildren and their teachers defied an Israeli curfew, ignoring tanks and warning shots fired in the air, to attend classes in Nablus, local Palestinian officials said. (AFP)

Armoured Israeli vehicles entered 500m inside two self-rule areas in the sector of Deir al-Balah in the Gaza Strip and flattened farmland, a Palestinian security source said. Three Palestinians, including a five-year-old girl, were wounded the same day by Israeli gunfire in the southern Gaza Strip town of Rafah, Palestinian medical sources said.

22

“The Israeli army cut off the water, electricity and phone lines to the Palestinian President,” said a Palestinian official, speaking by mobile phone from inside Chairman Arafat’s besieged compound. The official said the links had previously been cut and then been restored. But Israeli Defence Ministry spokesman Yarden Vatikai denied that anything had been switched off: “No, the orders from the [Defence] Minister [Ben-Eliezer} are clear. Everything is to function normally - power, food and water,” he said. Water supply was reported restored several hours later. Israel Army Radio reported Israel had rejected a US initiative to end the standoff. However, at noon the IDF halted demolition of buildings in the Ramallah compound and allowed provisions to be delivered there. (AFP, DPA, Ha’aretz)

“The Israeli actions ... are not helpful in reducing terrorist violence or promoting Palestinian reforms,” White House spokeswoman Jeanie Mamo said in a statement. “We urge Israel to continue considering the consequences of its actions on progress in reaching the goal outlined by [President Bush] in his June 24 speech.” (AFP)

“We strongly believe that it is absolutely essential to do everything to end violence immediately,” Russian Foreign Minister Ivanov said after telephone calls to Chairman Arafat, Foreign Minister Peres and Arab League Secretary-General Amre Moussa, among others. “In this context, it is important to end the siege and destruction of the headquarters of the head of the Palestinian administration and give the Palestinian authorities a real chance to impose order on their territory, put a stop to extremist attacks and arrest those guilty of terrorist acts.” (AFP)

Farouk Kaddoumi, head of the Political Bureau of the Palestine Liberation Organization, called for the United Nations to take urgent action to stop Israel’s siege of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. (AFP)

A 13-year-old Palestinian youth was killed in Nablus by the IDF. (DPA)

Australian group Jews Against Oppression and Occupation published a statement signed by 37 people criticizing the policies of Prime Minster Sharon’s Government, saying they did not believe it was acting in the best interests of Jews in Israel or elsewhere. (AFP)

23

“We have authorized Abu Mazen (Mahmud Abbas) to hold consultations with Palestinian officials in his home” in Ramallah, which is under strict curfew, the Israeli Defence Ministry spokesman said. However, Mr. Abbas’ request to enter Chairman Arafat’s compound was rejected. A request by EU envoy Moratinos to meet with Chairman Arafat in Ramallah was rejected by PM Sharon’s office, a foreign ministry official said. (AFP)

Chairman Arafat’s political advisor Hani al-Hassan told reporters that chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat and Ramallah Governor Mustafa Eisa (Abu Firas) and high-ranking Israeli army officers in Ramallah held talks to end the siege of the Chairman Arafat’s HQ in Ramallah. Mr. Erekat was allowed into the compound in Ramallah to brief Chairman Arafat on the talks. Mr. Arafat rejected Israeli demands to present a list naming all the approximately 250 people in his HQ. Mr. Erekat later said the talks with Israeli failed. “I saw the situation is very bad and very dangerous inside,” Erekat said, referring to fears the building could collapse. “I cannot believe what I saw. It’s completely destroyed inside.” (AFP, DPA, Reuters)

Addressing an emergency session of the UN Security Council, Secretary-General warned Israel that its battering away at the Palestinian Authority was “a bankrupt policy” that bolstered extremists and would never end Middle East violence. (Reuters, UN press release SG/SM/8398 of 23 September 2002)

White House spokesman Ari Fleischer told reporters that President Bush’s “priority is peace and sweeping reform of Palestinian institutions, and what Israel is doing is running contrary to that cause. It is not helpful.” (AFP, Ha’aretz, Reuters)

A Palestinian gunman had opened fired at Jewish pilgrims in Hebron, killing one man and wounding three of his children during the Jewish holiday of Sukkoth, medical officials said. (AFP, Ha’aretz, The Jerusalem Post, Reuters)

24

A Security Council meeting, convened on “The situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question,” was concluded early on 24 September with the adoption of draft resolution S/2002/1063 as resolution 1435 (2002), with 14 votes in favour and one abstention (US).

Chairman Arafat’s Advisor Nabil Abu Rudeineh welcomed the Security Council resolution, saying it was a step in the right direction, while underlining that the “important thing is to insist that Israel implement it and withdraws immediately.” Israel would only comply with the Security Council resolution demanding that it stop its siege of Chairman Arafat’s HQ if the Palestinians met their own obligations under the resolution, according to Prime Minister Sharon’s senior adviser Raanan Gissin. He added that he did not expect the Palestinian Authority to meet United Nations demands to bring militants to justice and therefore it was also “highly unlikely” that Israel would comply. “If the resolution is fulfilled to its letter, in other words, if the Palestinian Authority suddenly, by a miracle, takes action against the terrorists and arrests them, the reason for our being where we are today would be gone, so we could comply”, Mr. Gissin told reporters. (AFP, Reuters)

More than 20 Israeli tanks, armoured vehicles and bulldozers supported by an engineering force and helicopter gunships reportedly stormed eastern Gaza City before dawn, killing nine people and wounded more than 40. Three of the dead Palestinians were militants, two of them members of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades and the other six were civilians, Palestinians said. The IDF said it had blown up 13 metal workshops suspected of forming a makeshift weapons factory as well as the family home of a militant. The workshop owners denied the allegations. Later, more than 30,000 people filled the streets of central Gaza City for the funerals of the nine Palestinians killed, an AFP reporter at the scene said. (AFP, DPA, Ha’aretz, The Jerusalem Post, Reuters)

In a telephone conversation with Chairman Arafat, Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen underlined that the EU was pressing the Israeli Government to bring about a de-escalation of the situation. Mr. Fogh Rasmussen also called for the greatest possible Palestinian restraint and described the situation as a vicious circle. He expressed deep concern over the Israeli reoccupation of Mr. Arafat’s compound and stressed that the EU was urging Israel to immediately redeploy its forces. He also told Mr. Arafat that the EU deplored the Palestinian terror attacks against Israeli civilians. He added that the EU recognised Israel’s right to take appropriate measures against terror, but the Israeli military measures now undertaken were not the right answer. Mr. Fogh Rasmussen also informed Chairman Arafat that the EU was pressing the Israeli side to allow the EU envoys access to him. (www.eu2002.dk)

UNRWA told a meeting of 27 donor and host countries in Amman, Jordan, that it faced a budget deficit of US$17 million for 2002, as it tried to cope with the worst humanitarian crisis in the West Bank and Gaza Strip since 1948. Mr. Peter Hansen, UNRWA’s Commissioner-General, told the meeting that in addition to the $17 million deficit in the $301 million regular budget, fully half of UNRWA’s 2002 Emergency Appeal for the Occupied Palestinian Territory remained unfunded. This year UNRWA had asked the international community to provide it with $173 million for food and medical aid, job creation schemes and the rebuilding of destroyed refugee shelters. So far only $87.5 million had been pledged, one third of that coming from one donor, the UAE Red Crescent Society, which would fund the rebuilding of the Jenin camp, and just under $47 million has been received by the Agency. UNRWA would now be forced to cut back on food and other emergency aid for Palestinian refugees in Gaza and the West Bank despite recent studies showing growing malnutrition among children there. Mr. Hansen told the donors: “As the Agency responsible for humanitarian assistance to almost half the population of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, the challenges we now face are as great as any in our long and turbulent history. There is no more efficient vehicle in the region than UNRWA for delivering humanitarian assistance, but the international community will only be able to use this vehicle if it keeps it maintained.” He added: “We have to wonder at the ability of the Palestinian population to continue coping. After two years of violence, unemployment is around 60 per cent, half the population is living below the poverty rate and hunger is on the increase. Clearly the breaking point, with consequences much worse than those we’ve already seen, must be somewhere close.” “The underfunding of UNRWA is a very bad message to be given to the refugees at this incredibly difficult time. I urge the international community to make every effort in the remaining months of the year to make additional contributions,” Mr. Hansen noted, and made reference to, the report by the Secretary General’s Personal Humanitarian Envoy, Catherine Bertini, who had pinpointed in it the lac k of access to work, services and goods, due to curfews and closures, as the main cause of humanitarian hardship. (http://www.un.org/News/)

The US would contribute an additional US$9.25 million to UNRWA, the US embassy in Jordan said in a statement. A formal announcement would be made on 25 September, at the meeting in Amman of UNRWA donor countries, the statement said. The new contribution would bring total US contributions to UNRWA for 2002 to $119.25 million. (AFP)

At the start of an emergency House of Commons debate on Iraq, British Prime Minister Tony Blair said “we need urgent action to build a security infrastructure that gives both Israelis and Palestinians confidence and stops the next suicide bomb closing down the prospects of progress. We need political reform for the Palestinian Authority, and we need a new conference on the Middle East peace process based on the twin principles of a secure Israel and a viable Palestinian State.” (AFP)

European Commissioner for External Affairs Chris Patten condemned Israel’s tactics in the West Bank, saying they would only exacerbate an already desperate humanitarian situation. “Nobody doubts Israel has the right to ensure its own security, but the policy being pursued will just lead to more extremism, more alienation of the Palestinian population,” Mr. Patten told reporters in Copenhagen, adding that “this [was] no way to behave and no way to try to secure a lasting peace in the Middle East.” Mr. Patten also said he felt “passionately that people should abide by United Nations resolutions, not just some people but all people.” (DPA, Reuters)

25

The IDF arrested overnight 12 Palestinians across the West Bank, including one man who it said had planned to carry out a suicide bombing, and demolished three houses belonging to Palestinians accused of attacking Israel, military sources and witnesses said. The 12 Palestinians arrested were on a list drawn up by the Israeli intelligence services, the IDF said. Six were rounded up in Tulkarm. One of the houses, which was demolished in an explosion, was located in Dura, in the southern West Bank and the other two houses were in Hebron. Palestinian neighbours said about 25 people lived in the three houses. (AFP, Ha’aretz, The Jerusalem Post, Reuters)

Foreign Minister Peres told a group of foreign diplomats that Israel could not implement UN Security Council resolution 1435 (2002), calling for an immediate end to its siege of Chairman Arafat’s Ramallah compound, as Israel had received “warnings of another and another attempt to infiltrate into Israel suicide bombers.” “It is our duty as a Government to prevent it. Somebody has to [be] responsible for the security in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip”, he said. Mr. Peres had also spoken to Japan’s Foreign Minister Yoriko Kawagushi, explaining that Israel would like to implement the Security Council resolution, but that the daily security threats and the PA’s failure to stop the bombers had made it impossible at present, Israeli public radio said. Mr. Peres had responded to a call from the Japanese Foreign Minister, in which she had expressed her concern that “the besiegement by Israeli forces [had] extremely worsened the situation,” according to a Japanese foreign ministry official. Ms. Kawaguchi had also told Mr. Peres that she had urged Chairman Arafat, in a previous telephone conversation, to stop terrorist activities by Palestinian extremists, the official said. (AFP, Ha’aretz)

The Palestinan leadership cancelled talks with Israeli officials to discuss ending the siege on Chairman Arafat’s Ramallah compound, after Israel refused to let members of the Quartet meet with Mr. Arafat in the compound. Senior Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakattold Reuters that “in view of the new UN Security Council resolution, we demanded that the Quartet meet with President Arafat to discuss implementation of resolution 1435.” “The Israeli side requested a bilateral meeting between [Mr. Erekat] and the head of strategic planning in the Israeli army. Our position is that the Quartet should meet with Arafat first, he said.” (DPA, Ha’aretz, The Jerusalem Post, Reuters)

Chairman Arafat’s deputy in the PLO, Mahmoud Abbas [Abu Mazen], said the week-long Israeli siege of Mr. Arafat’s Ramallah compound had disrupted reform efforts. “There is no way to discuss such issues while our President is under such cruel and unprecedented aggression,” Mr. Abbas told the AP. (AP, Ha’aretz, The Jerusalem Post)

Two years of fighting against the Israeli occupation had left 1,897 Palestinians dead and 41,000 injured, Palestinian rights activist and head of the Palestinian Health Workers Union, Mustapha Barghuti, told reporters. He said the casualty figures meant that 1.3 per cent of the population of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip had been killed or injured in the conflict, which he said would be the equivalent of 166,000 people in the United States. Mr. Barghuti said of the wounded, 2,500 had been left disabled, 500 of them children. He said 85 per cent of the dead were civilians, while 60 per cent of all those killed were hit by live bullets. Twenty-two per cent of the slain were 18 years old or younger. In addition, he said that 60 per cent of those who had been shot dead had been hit in the upper part of the body, which he said pointed to a shoot-to-kill policy by the IDF. Moreover, Mr. Barghuti said that 167 people had been killed by the IDF in its assassination policy directed at Palestinian militants. Of those, 73 were bystanders killed in rocket attacks, bombings and tank shellings, he said. (AFP)

On the second anniversary of the Al-Aqsaintifada, the head of Hamas’ political bureau, Khaled Meshaal, at a press conference in Damascus in the company of representatives from 10 different Palestinian movements with offices in Damascus, reportedly said “the intifada and the resistance in all their forms [would] continue, including martyrdom operations that [were] a legitimate right of the Palestinian people.” Prime Minister “Sharon can threaten the Palestinians as he wishes, continue to murder and expel them, but he cannot stop the resistance,” Mr. Meshaal added. (AFP, DPA)

A new settlement with 14 homes had been established in “Rehalim,” south of Nablus, settler leaders reportedly announced. The Israeli Defence Ministry, with responsibility for settlement activity, initially said it was unaware of a new settlement. Later, the Ministry said in a statement that the “Rehalim” outpost had been defined as an educational institute four years ago and that in this framework construction had been permitted. “'Rehalim’ was never defined a settlement and there is no intention to approve it as such,” the statement said. However, Nati Yisraeli, a spokesman for the “Rehalim” settlers, said the Ministry statement was the “the official excuse.” “In reality, families live here,” Mr. Yisraeli said, noting that 14 permanent homes with small backyards and a road had been built there. Families had moved into eight homes in recent days, and the remainder would move in soon. In all, 24 families, or nearly 100 people, would live in “Rehalim”, which also has some mobile homes, he said. (Ha’aretz)

A statement issued by the Commission of the African Union (AU) in Addis Ababa said the Commission joined members of the international community in “strongly condemning the use of military force and massive attacks on the person and offices of the leader of the Palestinian people, despite repeated appeals to Israel to put a stop to such policies”. The statement added that the Commission called on the Israeli Government to “forthwith put an end to its current policy of destruction and siege of Arafat’s office compound and to heed [the] appeal by the UN Security Council”, reiterating that “only a genuine and mutually acceptable political solution recognizing the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people and their right to sovereign independence, based on relevant UN Security Council resolutions, can ensure lasting peace in the region”. (AFP)

A French rights activist who had spent several weeks inside Chairman Arafat’s compound during previous sieges said the some 250 people holed up there were crammed into very limited space, with several suffering from respiratory and gastric ailments. Ms. Claude Leostic, who claimed to be in constant touch with Palestinians inside the besieged compound, told AFP that the living space corresponding to each individual in the compound was less than one square meter and there was very little water and food. Regarding the latter, she noted that the besieged never knew when the IDF would allow for the next delivery to take place. (AFP)

Palestinians took to the streets of Ramallah during the night, for the fourth day in a row, to protest the latest Israeli offensive. Some 200 demonstrators carried candles and marched through the city streets in defiance of the 24-hour curfew. As the protestors attempted to walk towards Chairman Arafat’s besieged headquarters, Israeli soldiers opened fire at them, but caused no casualties, witnesses said. (DPA)

Israeli public television said that home-made Qassam rockets fired by the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’s armed wing, from the Gaza Strip, had hit business premises in the industrial zone of the southern Israeli town of Siderot, in the Negev Desert. Four of the firm’s 40 employees had been affected by choking fumes from the ensuing fire, which had been quickly put out, the television said. An Israeli source said that another Israeli had been slightly injured when a mortar had been fired at an industrial site in the same area. (AFP, DPA)

26

In an interview with The Jerusalem Post, Prime Minister Sharon was quoted as saying that the Palestinians were attempting “to escalate the terror attacks before a possible US action in Iraq. Their operating assumption is that the closer we come to a US attack in Iraq, the more difficult it will be for Israel to respond to terrorism. They understand that Israel does not want to cause difficulties for the US.” As for the IDF’s siege of Chairman Arafat’s headquarters, Mr. Sharon noted that “A great deal of thought went into the operation in Ramallah. It is part and parcel of our strategy to prevent the escalation of terrorism and reduce the Palestinians’ ability to conduct operations.” Responding, former PA Labour Minister Ghassan Khatib said Mr. Sharon’s assertions were not true and, on the contrary, Palestinians were worried about Israel’s exploitation of a possible war in Iraq. “Palestinians are afraid Israel will increase the level of killings and collective punishment”, he said. (AFP, The Jerusalem Post)

Palestinian witnesses said a baby girl had died of tear-gas inhalation in Hebron, as troops dispersed a crowd to enforce a curfew; the IDF said it was checking the report. An Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades militant had been shot dead allegedly trying to infiltrate the “Alei Sinai” settlement in the northern Gaza Strip. IDF sources said they had found a Kalashnikov assault rifle, grenades and magazines by his body, adding that troops were hunting another armed man in the same area. An Israeli army officer and a Hamas militant had reportedly been killed in an exchange of fire near Tulkarm. In Jenin, a 51-year-old Palestinian man had died when he was shot while looking out of a window of his home during a gun battle between Palestinian militants and Israeli troops, Palestinian Red Crescent medics said; two more Palestinians had been injured. The IDF did not immediately comment on the incident, but said its forces had come under fire near Jenin in a West Bank sweep for militants, during which nine suspected had been arrested. Palestinian witnesses said two Hamas supporters had been seized by Israeli troops in an overnight raid on Tamoun, a village near Jenin. (AFP, DPA, Reuters)

Israeli helicopter gunships fired missiles into Gaza City’s Sheikh Radwan neighbourhood, killing at least two Palestinians. Witnesses said a car had been hit directly and explosions had set on fire a second vehicle. Gaza hospital officials said some 27 people had been wounded, six of them seriously. An Israeli government spokesman, Daniel Seaman, confirmed the target of the air strike was Mohammed Deif (Abu Khaled), the head of the military wing of Hamas, who had been on Israel’s wanted list for at least 15 years. Israeli security sources said they were “one hundred per cent” sure that Mr. Deif was among the dead. Meanwhile, senior Hamas official Abdel Aziz Al-Rantissi told reporters Mr. Deif had survived the attack. He also said that Hamas would “escalate martyrdom operations inside Tel Aviv and Jaffa and Haifa and everywhere” and was “determined to wipe out Zionist terrorism.” “They are targeting civilians. They are targeting children. There are at least 15 children among the wounded here”, he noted. Among the dead was reportedly an aide to Mr. Deif and a senior Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades member, Issa Abu Abajram. (DPA, Reuters, The Jerusalem Post)

At least 30 Israeli tanks and two armoured bulldozers had moved into an area of the northern Gaza Strip under Palestinian control, Palestinian security sources and witnesses said. Troops had ordered residents to evacuate a building, apparently about to be demolished and the bulldozers had begun tearing up agricultural land near Beit Hanoun, adjacent to the Erez border crossing between Israel and the Gaza Strip. There were no reports of fighting or casualties. The IDF declined immediate comment. (Reuters)

Israel insisted that a group of Palestinians besieged with Chairman Arafat in his Ramallah headquarters be handed over, Israeli public radio reported. The decision had been reached in talks Prime Minister Sharon had held with senior officials, including Foreign Minister Peres and Defence Minister Ben-Eliezer, at the Defence Ministry in Tel Aviv, the radio added. (AFP)

The following statement was issued by the Spokesman for UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan:

The Secretary-General deplores the Government of Israel’s military action today in Gaza City. This helicopter attack in a heavily populated civilian area, in which two Palestinians were killed and more than 25 civilians, including at least a dozen children, were wounded, follows the adoption three days ago by the Security Council of resolution 1435. That resolution reiterated the Council's demand for the complete cessation of all acts of violence, including all acts of terror, provocation, incitement and destruction. It also reiterated the need for respect in all circumstances of international humanitarian law.

The Secretary-General is deeply concerned about the possible consequences of this attack. He calls on the Government of Israel to halt such actions and conduct itself in a manner that is fully consistent with international humanitarian law, under which Israel has a clear responsibility to protect the lives of civilians.


(UN press release SG/SM/8404 of 26 September 2002)

A young Israeli had attacked a Palestinian woman in a street next to the ultra-Orthodox district of “Mea Shearim”, close to East Jerusalem, using a syringe to inject her with insulin, Israeli public radio reported. The young woman, who fainted, had been given medical attention, while police in the area had arrested the assailant, who apart from the needle had also been carrying a large knife and a plastic gun. (AFP)

27

UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Terje Rø d-Larsen said in an interview with Reuters that the Israeli siege of Chairman Arafat’s Ramallah headquarters could be “the beginning of the death of the two-State solution” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He added that if the siege was prolonged, it could undermine the Palestinian Authority’s reform efforts, mentioning in that respect that one of the main Palestinian reformers, Finance Minister Salam Fayyad, was among those in the complex “sitting … behind barbed wires” and “seeing into barrels of tanks”, instead of “sitting behind a desk” and “looking at spreadsheets”, as he should. The siege would “increase the erosion of Palestinian institutions and undermine what little central authority that’s left – and without central power, we’re moving in the direction of state destruction and not state-building”, Mr. Rød-Larsen noted. He said the international community was now facing a major challenge. It could not allow the gap between Israelis and Palestinians to widen further. “The credibility of key international players [was] at stake. Words [had] to be paired with deeds”, he noted. (Reuters)

Israeli Science, Culture and Sport Minister Matan Vilnai, a member of Prime Minister Sharon’s security cabinet, speaking on Israeli Army Radio, confirmed Palestinian reports that Hamas military commander Mohammed Deif had suffered a non-life-threatening injury in the missile attack on a car on a crowded Gaza City street the previous day. The Minister suggested that Mr. Deif had escaped alive because Israel had used relatively light ordnance in the helicopter strike to avoid heavy civilian casualties. Chairman Arafat’s aide Tayeb Abdel-Rahim said Israel was “pursuing its aggression” by targeting a populated area as children were leaving school. Some 12,000 people, many calling for revenge, marched in funeral processions in Khan Yunis for the two men that died in the Gaza City attack. (AFP, DPA, Reuters)

Israeli forces in Hebron had killed a Hamas militant who shot at them as they approached his home to take him into custody, following an attack in the area the previous day against a car carrying Jewish settlers, in which four people – a mother and three children – had been wounded, according to Israeli sources. (AFP, Reuters)

World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Gro Harlem Brundtland said in a report that Israeli closures in the West Bank and Gaza Strip had led to more child malnutrition and stillbirths and hindered vaccination campaigns. She again appealed to be allowed to visit the Occupied Palestinian Territory to assess the medical needs of the Palestinians living there. A WHO spokesman said talks were continuing with Israeli officials on a visit by Ms. Brundtland. Israel’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva, Yaakov Levy, in a statement rejected the WHO report as “one-sided” and said security measures including closures had been necessary because of the “campaign of violence initiated and perpetrated by the Palestinian Authority”. (Reuters)

Following consultations among the Security Council membership, the President of the Council, Ambassador Stefan Tafrov of Bulgaria, made the following press statement: “The members of the Security Council call for the full implementation of Resolution 1435 (2002).” (UN press release SC/7516 of 30 September 2002)

28

A local leader of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades had been shot dead in a chance killing in his home in the Salam district of Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, as Israeli troops fired on buildings in the area, witnesses said. His brother said the two of them had gone on to the roof of their home to watch Israeli tanks, which they had heard moving nearby, then there was some shooting and his brother fell dead. The IDF said it was checking for details of the incident. (AFP, DPA)

Thousands of Palestinians marked the second anniversary of the intifada . In Gaza City a 20,000-strong march to the Palestinian Legislative Council building was addressed by Chairman Arafat by phone, from his besieged Ramallah headquarters. “We want to defend our holy places, both Christian and Muslim, to defend Jerusalem and every centimetre of our land. Our resolution will continue and we will be the winner, the victory will be ours”, Mr. Arafat told the crowd. “We reiterate on this anniversary that we are marching until victory and until the establishment of a Palestinian State with Jerusalem as its capital”, Chairman Arafat reportedly told crowds that had gathered in Qalqilya, after the army lifted longstanding curfews there and in nearby Tulkarm. Around 1,000 people demonstrated in Bir Zeit, near Ramallah. Rallies on the occasion were also held in Egypt, Lebanon, Israel and other countries. (AFP, DPA, Reuters)

Following a commemorative demonstration in the Gaza Strip town of Deir el-Balah, a 17-year-old was killed when a group of Palestinian youths clashed with Israeli soldiers manning a position near the adjacent “Netzarim” settlement. Three more Palestinians were wounded in the same incident, while similar clashes had left seven youths hurt near Beit Lahia and three in Khan Yunis, following a 3,000-strong demonstration there, Palestinian sources said. (AFP, DPA, Reuters)

29

Three children had been wounded by Israeli tank fire in the Balata refugee camp, near Nablus, Palestinian medical sources said. The children aged 9, 12 and 14 had been hit by shrapnel from tank shells. In the Gaza Strip, a youth had been seriously hurt when Israeli forces in a position near the northern town of Beit Lahia opened fire on a crowd that was throwing stones at them, medics said. Six Palestinians had been slightly injured by shrapnel when a tank opened fire on buildings in Khan Yunis, in the southern Gaza Strip, in an area opposite the “Gush Katif” settlement block. (AFP)

Israeli radio said an additional 13,000 Palestinians living in the Occupied Territory would be granted work permits by Israel, thus increasing the total number to 33,000, including some 8,000 Palestinian businesspeople. The decision to increase the number of work permits had reportedly been made by Defence Minister Ben-Eliezer. (DPA)

Saudi Arabia had decided to build 600 houses and related utilities in six Palestinian cities, the official SPA agency reported. “The aid is part of efforts to alleviate the suffering of the Palestinian people ... who have been facing a war of extermination, starvation, murder, expulsion and destruction of property at the hands of the aggressor Israeli troops”, the SPA said, noting that the decision had been taken by King Fahd, on the recommendation of Interior Minister Prince Nayef bin Abdul Aziz, overseer of the Saudi Committee for Support to the Jerusalem Intifada. The Committee had collected more than US$150 million in a telethon fund-raiser held in April in support of the Palestinian people. (AFP)

Israel pulled its tanks and troops back from Chairman Arafat’s Muqataa headquarters in Ramallah, ending a ten-day siege. The change of policy reportedly followed a message by President Bush to Prime Minister Sharon demanding a speedy end to the siege. Chairman Arafat told reporters inside his damaged offices that the Israeli move was not a withdrawal but just a redeployment a few metres away from the compound, and noted that “This is not implementation of the Security Council Resolution 1435, it is playing around with international opinion”. A senior Palestinian security official said Israeli soldiers could be back “in three minutes”, as they had a large base at the settlement of “Beit El”, on the northern edge of Ramallah. Former PA Information Minister Yasser Abed Rabbo said there had been no deal regarding the fate of men wanted by Israel and located in the Muqataa compound, in exchange for ending the siege. An Israeli government spokesman said the IDF had ways of tracking the wanted men and arresting them if they tried to leave the compound, although he gave no details. Israeli public radio reported that Prime Minister Sharon had received assurances from security officials that the eight most wanted Palestinians, including West Bank intelligence chief Tawfiq Tirawi and Force 17 commander Mahmud Damra, remained inside the battered headquarters. Following the end of the siege, Chairman Arafat made a call through WAFA “on everyone to respect a complete ceasefire, as we have done in the past, and urge the Israeli Government to do the same”. (AFP, DPA, Reuters)

The following statement was issued by the Spokesman for Secretary-General Kofi Annan:

The Secretary-General welcomes the decision of the Government of Israel to lift the siege of President Arafat's Ramallah compound. He strongly believes that both sides should fully implement Security Council resolution 1435 immediately and return to the negotiating table. The best path away from violence and stalemate is through the roadmap set out by the Quartet in its 17 September communiqué, which aims for a complete end of violence, the early establishment of a Palestinian State with provisional borders and a just and comprehensive settlement to the conflict.


(UN press release SG/SM/8410 of 29 September 2002)

President Bush was “very pleased” with the Israeli pullout from Muqataa and called “on both parties to live up to their responsibilities of peace, stability and reform in the Palestinian Authority”, White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe said. Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher said the pullout was “a first step” and “proof that international efforts in and outside the framework of the UN Security Council can force Israel to stop its attack”. He noted, however, that “The siege that must be lifted is the siege imposed on the Palestinian people” and called on Israel to comply with international resolutions, to “stop its aggression against the Palestinian people” and commit to a peaceful settlement to the Middle East conflict. For its part, the Arab League called the Israeli pullout “insufficient” and said Israel should withdraw to its positions before the start of the intifada in September 2000, stressing that UN Security Council resolution 1435 demanded such a pullout. UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Terje Rød-Larsen, who met Chairman Arafat soon after the end of the siege, also expressed the hope that Israel would continue its withdrawal “consistent with the latest Security Council resolution which calls for Israel further to withdraw up to the September 2000 positions”. (AFP, Reuters)

30

President Putin, at the start of talks in the Kremlin with visiting Prime Minister Sharon, “keenly welcome[d]” the Israeli decision to lift the siege of Chairman Arafat’s headquarters. (DPA, Reuters)

EU High Representative Javier Solana, speaking on the sidelines of a meeting of EU Foreign Ministers in Brussels, told reporters that Israel’s pullback from Chairman Arafat’s Ramallah headquarters was “positive” and noted that it had to continue “until the withdrawal is total”. He added that EU envoy to the region Miguel Angel Moratinos had spoken to Mr. Arafat overnight and work continued on normalizing the situation at the Muqataa, resuming the reform process and implementing the Road Map that would lead to a Palestinian State, as recently agreed upon by the Quartet. (AFP)

In a statement, the EU Foreign Ministers said “Restricting freedom of movement of Palestinians and their leadership and destroying their infrastructure does not contribute to fighting terror or to solve Israel’s legitimate security concerns”. The Ministers took note of Israel’s withdrawal from Chairman Arafat’s Ramallah headquarters and called upon Israelis and Palestinians to return to the negotiating table. They also said Israel must respect international humanitarian law and allow “full, safe and unfettered access” to aid agencies seeking to assist thousands of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. They urged Palestinians to push ahead with reforms, especially of the security services, and hold free and fair elections early next year. Israel could in turn facilitate this by lifting curfews and closures, withdrawing to its positions held before September 2000, resuming the transfer of Palestinian customs revenues and stopping settlements, the Ministers said. (DPA)

A Palestinian woman in Rafah was considered clinically dead after having been wounded outside her home by shrapnel from an Israeli tank shell in the southern Gaza Strip, Palestinian security and hospital sources said. Israeli military sources said troops had opened fire after coming under mortar bomb attack. Israeli soldiers had opened fire at stone-throwing youths near the Balata refugee camp, in Nablus, killing a 10-year-old boy and wounding 18 other children, Palestinian witnesses and medical officials said. The IDF had no immediate comment. It was later reported that a second boy had been killed in the area by Israeli forces fighting armed Palestinians in a clash that went on after nightfall. (AFP, DPA, Reuters)

“Children are increasingly bearing the brunt of this conflict. Both the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) and Palestinian armed groups show an utter disregard for the lives of children and other civilians”, a report by Amnesty International said, adding that the IDF had failed to punish soldiers who responded to stone-throwing children with “unlawful and excessive use of lethal force”. More than 250 Palestinian children had been killed in the current intifada, including 80 in the first three months alone, the report said. More than 70 Israeli children had also died, most of them killed by Palestinian suicide bombers. “Both the Israeli Government and the Palestinian Authority must act swiftly and firmly to investigate the killing of each and every child and ensure that all those responsible for such crimes are brought to justice”, Amnesty said and called for international observers in the region, noting their presence might “have saved the lives of Israeli and Palestinian children as well as other civilians”. Acting PA Minister Saeb Erakat told Reuters he “fully put the blame [for] the tragic death of Palestinian and Israeli children on the Israeli occupation ... which is evil in itself”. He expressed the hope that “the international community will listen to Amnesty’s calls to provide international monitors”, as they were “the key to security in the region”. Israeli Minister Yitzhak Levy said Israel had been acting in self-defence and regretted that people were unavoidably killed in the process, but noted that there was “no comparing the morality of the Israeli army to the immorality of the terrorist groups”. “True, we have not heard of anyone being prosecuted, and perhaps no one has been found guilty. But we are hearing how the Army Prosecutor’s Office is always investigating incidents”, he said. (DPA, Reuters)

Villagers living between Tulkarm and Qalqilya said the IDF had put notices in olive trees, announcing its intention to confiscate thousands of hectares of Palestinian land in the area for the purpose of building a “security fence” separating the West Bank from Israel. Residents in Jabara, a village near Tulkarm, told DPA that in their village alone the army’s confiscations would amount to some 90 per cent of Jabara’s land. This included all the village’s olive groves, leaving residents with just the built-up section. Five or six other villages in the area had found similar announcements posted in their olive groves. (DPA)

“Many mistakes that should not have been made were committed, and I frequently said the use of arms during the Intifada was wrong”, Reuters quoted Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) as telling them at the weekend in Ramallah. He added that he did not object to stone-throwing, as it was a popular expression of protest against the occupation and it was “all right to use popular protests alongside negotiations”. Mr. Abbas said all attacks against civilians were “rejected” and noted that suicide bombings “definitely harm[ed] the Palestinians’ cause” and their image worldwide. (Reuters)

A Palestinian resident of Gaza City was fatally shot as IDF troops, supported by helicopters and tanks, chased militants who had attacked an Israeli patrol, medical and security officials said. (DPA, Reuters)

President Bush signed the US Foreign Relations Authorisation Act for 2003. The legislation added three mandatory provisions. It said money could not be spent on the United States consulate in Jerusalem unless the consulate was under the supervision of the US ambassador to Israel. The US consul general, who deals mainly with Palestinians, now reports to the State Department. Any US Government document, which lists countries and their capitals would have to identify Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. And in United States documents such as passports, birth certificates and nationality certifications, United States citizens born in Jerusalem may insist that their place of birth be recorded as Israel. President Bush, after the signing, said that “US policy regarding Jerusalem [had] not changed,” and State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said that the US still believed the status of Jerusalem was a “permanent status issue that need[ed] to be part of a negotiated peace.” PA Minister for Planning and International Cooperation, Nabil Shaath, told Reuters from Ramallah that the legislation was “an act against peace, an act of incitement,” and that it was “against the commitment of the United States, contrary to international law, contrary to agreements signed by the United States. This is really totally unhelpful and obstructs any move towards the peace process,” he said, calling the legislation “at a time like this, an insult to the Arab and Muslim world.” There was no immediate Israeli reaction. (AP, DPA, Ha’aretz, Reuters)


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