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20 Iyar 5762 - May 2, 2002 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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Home and Family
Siege of Arafat Expected to be Lifted
by Yated Ne'eman Staff

Representatives of the United States and Great Britain met Palestinian officials in Ramallah to finalize details over the incarceration of six wanted Palestinian militants holed up in Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat's Mukata compound in the city.

Under the terms of a U.S.-brokered deal to end the siege of the PA chairman, the six Palestinians are to have British and American guards and will be incarcerated near Jericho. American and British guards will be dispatched to the region to ensure that the four killers of assassinated tourism minister Rechavam Ze'evi, as well as PA finance chief Fuad Shubeiki -- suspected of masterminding the Karine A weapon- smuggling affair -- and PFLP leader Ahmed Sa'adat remain behind bars.

White House spokesman Arie Fleischer said that the six would be transferred to U.S. and U.K. jailers in a facility near Jericho very soon. Fleischer added that the American guards would be non- military, but "not pinstriped diplomats." "These are going to be United States monitors, security officials . . . nonmilitary, not troops," Fleischer told reporters.

Defense Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer said that IDF troops would withdraw from Ramallah in the next few days.

The six have been holed up with Arafat in his compound since the start of the siege. Israel has said that it would not withdraw its troops from the city until the six were handed over to stand trial.

Britain announced that it was sending an advance party of officials to the region ahead of the implementation of the plan. Britain's Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said the three- strong team would ensure that conditions were safe for the deployment of British and American personnel.

Israel's cabinet voted Sunday in favor of the American proposal by 17 votes to 9.

After a makeshift Palestinian court last week sentenced Ze'evi's killers to sentences ranging from one to 18 years in a trial hastily arranged in Arafat's compound, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said he was sticking to his demand that the four men implicated in last year's murder, be tried in an Israeli court. Now he has apparently backed down and accepted the American compromise.

Testifying in the Knesset, the coordinator of IDF activities in the area said that the IDF had supplied tremendous amounts of food in the past three weeks. Defense Minister Ben Eliezer said it was enough for 14 restaurants. Among other commodities, Arafat got 13,200 pitas, 420 cans of choumous, sausages, pickles, cheese, tuna (423 cans), coffee (135 kg), tea (155 boxes), sugar (360 kg), jam, chilba, vegetable soup, eggplant salad, more meat, potatoes (100 kg), chicken, pears (60 kg), oranges, clementinas, lemons, lettuce, watermelons (24), olives, corn, cola (720 bottles), rice, salt, zaatar, dates, tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, apples, bananas, kiwis, Seven Up (720), tomatoe paste, spinach, eggs, squash, dill, peas, chalva, more cheese, spices, 3000 kaffiyas and hundreds more other food items. This is in addition to medecines, cleaning products, tooth brushes, tooth paste, shampoo and more.

Still, Israel has not stopped its fight against terror and on Monday its army entered Hebron, the largest Palestinian city in the area in its mission to destroy the terrorist infrastructure. Early reports said that at least 10 Palestinians were killed in fighting.

Hamas sources said that among the dead was one of the men who was involved in the attack Saturday at the nearby settlement of Adura, in which four Israelis were murdered including a five year old girl. The murderers dressed as Israeli soldiers and surprised the settlement early Shabbos morning. After their murderous business they managed to escape in the confusion.

The other Palestinians killed were a member of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, and a member of Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat's Force 17 presidential guard. Two aides of the Tanzim head in Hebron were also killed during the incursion. The Tanzim head was killed last week in an Israeli strike.

The army also arrested 45 Tanzim, Hamas and Islamic Jihad militants. IDF troops declared a curfew, confining Palestinians to their homes. Soldiers found material used to make explosive devices in a building in the center of Hebron that also housed wanted Palestinians.

Along with Jericho, Hebron had been the only West Bank city not included in Operation Defensive Shield. An IDF spokesman said that the operation in Hebron would be "for a limited time."


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