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Diplomatic Events — January.2002

CHRONOLOGICAL listing of Israeli/Palestian conflict events occuring during 2002, presented in ascending order:
. . . . . . . . . .
january: 1 . 2 . 3 . 4 . 5 . 6 . 7 . 8 . 9 . 10 . 11 . 12 . 13 . 14 . 15 . 16 . 17 . 18 . 19 . 20 . 21 . 22
23 . 24 . 25 . 26 . 27 . 28 . 29 . 30 . 31

key events:
Palestinian Authority arrests Moussa Kullab
Israel intercepts the Karine-A
US envoy Anthony Zinni arrives in Israel
Zinni returns to the US
PA detains Fuad al-Shobaky for questioning
IDF demolition of Palestinian homes sparks debate
IDF kills Raed al-Karmi
PA arrests Ahmad Sa'adat
IDF troops move deeper into Ramallah
IDF destroys the Voice of Palestine radio service
10,000 Palestinians protest Israeli blockade of Arafat
IDF launches major offensive in Tulkarm
Mid-East religious triad condemns bloodshed
Israelis announces plan to reopen the Temple Mount to non-Muslims
Bush administration debates cutting ties with Arafat
Sharon accepts invitation to visit Bush in US
Fouad al-Shoubaki is dismissed from service & imprisoned
Israeli reservist officers and soldiers sign peace petition
PA closes Islamic charities & humanitarian groups
Binyamin Ben-Eliezer visits Hosni Mubarak in Egypt
. . . . . . . . . .

january . february . march . april . may . june . july . august . september
october . november . december

incident(s)/source links
2002 begins with Israeli tanks perched ominously within eyesight
of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's headquarters in Ramallah.
  • Last week, Israeli forces entered the city of Hebron and the West Bank village of Azzoun, arresting several people suspected of terrorist activity.

  • Over the weekend, Israeli tanks kill 3 Palestinians near the Jewish settlement of Elei Sinai. The Palestinian Authority accuses Israel of "assassinating" the men, saying "Israel has fanned the flames again by killing Palestinian citizens."

  • Israel and the Palestinian Authority accuse each other of escalating tension after 6 Palestinians are shot dead Sunday night near Beit Hanoun, close to the border with Israel in the northern Gaza Strip. Israeli security forces claim 3 of the dead were would-be suicide bombers trying to cross into the Jewish state, while the others planned to plant a bomb near a Jewish settlement. They report the Palestinians were wearing explosives and were heavily armed. In response, Palestinian radicals vow to take revenge for the killings.

  • Palestinian police report the arrest of Moussa Kullab, 1 of 33 suspected militants named on an Israeli "most wanted" list given to Arafat by US Middle East peace envoy Gen. Anthony Zinni. Israeli sources report at least 11 people on the list have been arrested. Palestinians report they have arrested at least 18 on the list.

  • Today, an Israeli infantry force backed by tanks rolls into a West Bank town to arrest 3 Palestinians suspected of terrorist activities. The Israeli action takes place at Qabatiya near Jenin in a section of the West Bank under full Palestinian control. Parts of the West Bank are under joint Israeli-Palestinian supervision. Among those arrested by the IDF and transferred to Israeli Security Services for questioning is Hamas member Nasser Zacraneh. Palestinians fire at the Israeli force a number of times during the operation but no injuries are reported. Israeli forces leave Qabatiya once the operation is complete. An M-16 assault rifle found with the men is confiscated.
On the diplomatic front:
  • The US Embassy in Jerusalem announces US Middle East peace envoy Gen. Anthony Zinni, who left the region last month, will return Thursday to resume peace negotiation efforts. The decision to revive Zinni's role of mediator follows a marked drop in violence between the two sides over the past two weeks. Zinni was originally dispatched to the region in November to try to implement the Tenet ceasefire project, which would be followed by a plan for peace negotiations recommended last May by former US senator George Mitchell. The Mitchell plan calls on Israel to freeze all new construction of Jewish settlements in Palestinian territories and to stop the army firing on unarmed Palestinian demonstrators. Of the Palestinian Authority, the plan requests a clampdown on Palestinian extremists. In recent weeks, scores of Palestinian militants have been arrested amid intense international pressure to crack down on terrorism in the wake of December's suicide attacks against Israeli targets.

  • Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat says he welcomes Zinni's return to the Middle East as an opportunity to resume efforts to negotiate peace with Israel.

  • Just hours before the new violence, Israeli Defense Minister, Binyamin Ben-Eliezer tells a cabinet meeting that the number and severity of attacks has dropped for a second week in a row. Palestinian attacks—including shootings, bombings, grenade attacks, assaults and stabbings—dropped from an average of 18/day before Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's call for an end to violence, to 11/day. Only 1 Israeli has died in political violence since then. During December 2001, more than 70 Palestinians were killed by Israeli security forces, most within the first half of the month.

  • Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon vetoes a plan by Israeli president Moshe Katsav to address the Palestinian parliament as an initial conciliatory gesture. Sharon's response provokes a rare rebuke from the president's office, which issues a statement regretting "the tone of the reaction from the Prime Minister's office, a tone which is both unseemly and inappropriate."

    US envoy Zinni to return to Middle East . CNN
    Israel arrests suspected militants . CNN
    Anger over Gaza killings . BBC News
    Palestinians urge return of US envoy . BBC News
    Israel sees peace hope . BBC News
    Arafat backs returning US envoy . BBC News
    Analysis: Mideast peace hopes . CNN
  • Israeli forces withdraw overnight from Jenin, Hebron and the A-Tira neighborhood in Ramallah as United States special envoy Anthony Zinni begins a fresh attempt to kick start long-stalled peace talks. Blockades are also lifted around Jenin, Qalqilya, Hebron and Tulkarm. However, troop presence continues in most of Ramallah, where Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat has been confined for the past month.
  • In separate operations overnight, Israeli troops seize 5 suspected Palestinian militants. Four alleged Islamic Jihad activists are arrested in Hebron, along with another, believed to be a member of Hamas, in the nearby village of Kufr Roman.
  • In the southern Gaza Strip, Israeli tanks fire several shells into the Khan Younis camp. Earlier in the week, Israeli forces are reported to have killed 6 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.
On the diplomatic front:
  • Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon reiterates his demand for 7 days free from violence before it considers a ceasefire deal with the Palestinians. The move comes on the eve of a new peace mission by American envoy, General Anthony Zinni. Meanwhile, Israel's dovish foreign minister Shimon Peres questions Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's insistence to adhere strictly to the outlines of the plan proposed last year by CIA chief George Tenet before implementing a formal ceasefire. "If calm continues for the next two or three days, it would be a very good time to start the implementation of the Tenet plan," he tells state television. However, Sharon insists Arafat is not doing enough and repeatedly rules out returning to peace talks until there is a complete cessation of violence.
  • Israeli public radio reports the easing of the internal closure of Palestinian cities in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and the reduction of the number of Israeli army checkpoints to allow for freer movement of Palestinian vehicles. The IDF reports the checkpoint at Ramin is now open near the city of Tulkarem.

    Israel army leaves West Bank towns . CNN
    Israel renews ceasefire demand . BBC News
    Israel stages West Bank pull-out . BBC News
  • In the Red Sea, Israeli officials intercept the Karine A, a ship reportedly carrying 50 tons of weapons. The ship is seized off the coast of Saudi Arabia and brought to the southern Israeli port of Eilat. Israel Defense Forces report that the Karine A is carrying weaponry and ammunition, including Katyusha rockets, rifles, mortar shells, mines and a variety of anti-tank missiles. IDF reports the ship's captain is an officer in the Palestinian naval police, and that the shipment came from Iran. Palestinian officials deny any connection with the ship.
On the diplomatic front:
  • Israeli Defense Minister Binyamin Ben Eliezer issues a series of security and civilian measures for the West Bank and Gaza in the hope that they will restore "calm to the area." In return, Eliezer calls upon the Palestinian Authority to carry out "intensive activity against the terror infrastructure" so peace plans can be implemented. The measures include:

    • Lifting of closure from the cities of Qalqilya, Tulkarem, Jenin and Hebron. The closure surrounding Ramallah and Nablus will continue;
    • Withdrawl of Israeli forces from Areas A in Jenin, Nablus and the neighborhood of A-Tira in Ramallah;
    • Moving tanks back from areas close to the civilian population;
    • Easing the pressure at the Kalandia checkpoint;
    • Easing travel restrictions on the roads in the West Bank;
    • Easing travel restrictions on the Gaza-Rafah road;
    • Rafah border crossing will operate until midnight;
    • The defense minister has given instructions to allow the movement of Palestinian police from the West Bank to Gaza and vice versa; and
    • Entrance of permanent Palestinian workers at the international border crossings of Allenby and Rafah

    Officials indicate the measures, which began last night, will continue throughout the day. The move comes just ahead of US Mideast peace envoy Gen. Anthony Zinni's arrival, and only hours after the Israeli army withdraws from Jenin and the A-Tira neighborhood in Ramallah.
  • US Mideast peace envoy Gen. Anthony Zinni meets with Israeli security officials in the afternoon soon after his arrival. A number of issues are discussed with Palestinian and Israeli officials, including establishing a sustainable ceasefire, and the full implementation of the US-backed Mitchell peace plan. Zinni is scheduled to meet Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat on Friday, and he calls for a joint security meeting between Israel and the Palestinians to be held on Sunday. Zinni plans to return to Washington early next week to report to Secretary of State Colin Powell.

    Israel issues West Bank security plan . CNN
    Israel army leaves West Bank towns . CNN
    Israelis say they seized Palestinian arms ship . CNN
    Israel stages West Bank pull-out . BBC News
    Israel 'seizes arms shipment' . BBC News
    Analysis: The CIA and the arms ship . BBC News
  • Israel Defense Forces enter the Palestinian village of Tel, south of Nablus, with tanks and armored vehicles in what the IDF says is pursuit of terrorists in the village. IDF forces are confronted by armed Palestinians as they enter the village, and a gun battle ensues. 1 Palestinian is killed and 2 others are arrested. Israel declares the entire area a closed military zone, saying the operation will continue. Tel is in Area A, an area designated under full Palestinian control.
  • While Israel eases restrictions at some checkpoints and begins withdrawing forces from several West Bank towns, IDF forces continue military operations in search of Palestinian militants, sealing off towns. Palestinian officials call the easing of restrictions a sham, saying that many main roads in the Palestinian territories can only be used by Jewish settlers, forcing Palestinians to use donkey carts or walk along much longer bypass routes. The Palestinians call the restrictions punitive measures against them by Israel.
On the diplomatic front:
  • Zinni meets separately with Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, trying on his 4-day mission to the region to secure a lasting cease-fire. He promotes peace talks between the two adversaries on the Mitchell plan, previously agreed to by all sides for curbing violence and renewing talks. Israeli officials tell Zinni that they believe terror attacks are already planned and that attackers are only waiting for a green light from their leaders. Sharon tells Zinni that he will not back down on his insistence for "seven days of quiet" before Israel participate in cease-fire negotiations. Along with Sharon, Zinni meets with Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres and Israeli Defense Minister Binyamin Ben Eliezer.

    Israelis say they seized Palestinian arms ship . CNN
    Israel 'seizes arms shipment' . BBC News
On the diplomatic front:
  • Despite a new row between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, US envoy Anthony Zinni presses on with his peace mission. The Israelis accuse the authority of trying to smuggle 50 tons of Iranian-made missiles and other weapons into the West Bank and Gaza Strip on board one of its ships. US State Department spokesman Richard Boucher tells reporters Zinni asked Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat about the weapons shipment when the two met Friday in the West Bank town of Ramallah. The envoy "expressed our strong condemnation of any attempt to escalate the conflict in the region by militant groups or others," Boucher says.
  • Zinni meets with Palestinian Council speaker Ahmad Qorei and other Palestinian officials, including chief negotiator Saeb Erakat. His mediation efforts will continue Sunday with a trilateral security meeting with the US, Israeli and Palestinian security officials. Zinni's mission is to move both sides towards accepting a formal truce, the details of which were outlined last year by the head of the US Central Intelligence Agency, George Tenet. Under this plan, Israel would withdraw its troops from Palestinian areas to positions they held before the outbreak of fighting in September 2000; Palestinian security forces would make an all-out effort to prevent attacks on Israelis by Palestinian militants. With a truce in place, the two sides would then implement the proposals of an international commission headed by former US Senator George Mitchell. Israel would freeze all settlement activity in the West Bank and Gaza, while the Palestinians would dismantle militant groups.

    Zinni in talks with Palestinians . CNN
    Arms row mars peace mission . BBC News
    The Mitchell report . BBC News
On the diplomatic front:
  • US envoy Anthony Zinni heads home after four days of intensive talks with Israelis and Palestinians aimed at negotiating a cease-fire, but his last day of meetings is marked by more harsh words and accusations surrounding Israel's seizure of a shipload of weapons Thursday . Israel says the ship was loaded with 50 tons of weapons, including Katyusha rockets, rifles, mortar shells, mines and a variety of anti-tank missiles intended for Palestinians to use against Israelis. The Palestinians deny any involvement or ties to the ship, and accuse Israel of trying to justify its plans to assault them and their leadership. Israeli sources say the ship came from Sudan and the arms originated in Iran. Israel contends the ship's captain is a member of the Palestinian security forces and several crewmembers are tied to the Palestinian security forces, which Israel says indicates the weapons were intended for the Palestinians. Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon accuses Arafat of ordering the mission. Arafat repeatedly denies involvement, saying the Israeli charges are simply a propaganda attempt by Israel to undermine Zinni's peace mission to the region. Zinni declines to comment. He is due to return to the Middle East in a little over a week.

    War of words of arms shipment . CNN
    Zinni leaves Mid-East cautiously optimistic . BBC News
    Arms row mars peace mission . BBC News
    Analysis: The CIA and the arms ship . BBC News
On the diplomatic front:
  • The Palestinian Authority announces it will set up its own investigative commission to determine whether any of its officials were involved in the voyage of the Karine A, a ship containing 50 tons of weapons captured by Israel last week. If the commission uncovers any evidence that Palestinian Authority officials were involved, says Arafat aide Nabil Abu Rudieneh, they will be held accountable. The conclusions of the authority's investigation are to be turned over to US and European officials.
  • State Department spokesman Richard Boucher tells reporters that he is reserving judgement regarding Palestinian Authority involvement in the Karine-A incident, saying the facts have yet to be established.

    Boucher's statement prompts Israeli Transport Minister Ephraim Sneh to accuse the US of deliberately downplaying the incident to discourage Israeli retaliation against the Palestinians. Sneh also suggests the Americans want to avoid a confrontation with Iran, which Israel has accused of supplying the weapons. Iran continues to deny any connection with the arms.

    An Israeli Government spokesman, meanwhile, says Israel will release documents in the next few days that will prove Arafat was directly involved in the operation. "We have all the evidence, including the documents, that leads directly to Arafat and the Palestinian Authority," Daniel Ayalon, foreign policy adviser to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, tells Reuters.

    Palestinian Authority to investigate links to arms ship . CNN
    US shift on Israeli arms seizure . BBC News
On the diplomatic front:
  • Omar Akawi, the captain of the arms ship, the Karine A, seized last Thursday by Israeli commandos in international waters, says he was acting "under orders" from an official in the Palestinian Authority. Akawi, who was arrested last week along with 12 crewmen, tells reporters in prison interviews with Israeli and US media that he is a long-term member of Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement, and was carrying the weapons to help Palestinians defend themselves. Akawi tells reporters the arms shipment was overseen by Palestinian Authority official Adel Awadallah. The Palestinian Authority confirms Awaki is a middle-ranking member of its naval unit; however, it does not comment on Awadallah. Akawi tells reporters he picked up the shipment of arms off Iran's coast in the Gulf, and that he believed Iran and the militant Lebanese group Hezbollah were involved in mission. Lloyd's List names the current owner of the ship as Iraqi national Ali Mohammed Abbas. Documents show the ship was previously known as the Rim K, and registered in Lebanon. Iran denies any connection with the arms shipment. Iraq's cabinet calls Israel's seizing of the Karine A "a crime of piracy," though it makes no mention of any Iraqi involvement. Its cargo included Katyusha rockets with a 20-kilometre (12-mile) range, anti-tank rockets, mortar bombs, sniper rifles, mines and ammunition. Israeli authorities report the weapons are mainly Iranian-made.

    In addition, Israeli intelligence implicates a reported senior Hezbollah security officer, Imad Mughniyeh, as playing a leading role in the incident. Mughniyeh is on the FBI's wanted list for his alleged role in the kidnapping of Western hostages in Beirut during the 1980s and the hijacking of a TWA flight to Beirut.
  • Saying the US has received clear evidence of official Palestinian involvement in the Karine-A armship incident, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher tells reporters the US administration is awaiting an explanation from Palestinian leader Arafat. Boucher adds that there is as yet no proof Arafat or his deputies are implicated, but says he finds the involvement of Palestinians in the shipment "deeply troubling."
  • Arafat says he will ask the US, EU, Russia and the UN to play a role in the inquiry. European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana is in the region to try to kick-start peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians. The Palestinian Authority continues to deny any involvement in the incident.

    Israelis say they seized Palestinian arms ship . CNN
    Israel 'seizes arms shipment' . BBC News
    US shift on Israeli arms seizure . BBC News
    Weapons ship mystery deepens . BBC News
  • The lull in violence is shattered when 4 Israeli soldiers and 2 Palestinians are killed in a firefight between Israeli troops and Palestinian gunmen at the fortified Israeli army post at Kerem Shalom, close to the convergence of the borders of Israel, Gaza and Egypt. An Israeli officer and 3 soldiers are killed in the early morning attack, all Israeli Arabs, members of the Bedouin tribe. Two other soldiers are wounded. The firefight takes place after Palestinian gunmen cross into Israel by cutting through a border fence before launching an attack, using automatic weapons and hand grenades. Within hours of the gun battle, Hamas claims responsibility for the attack. The Palestinian men, who reportedly wore Palestinian police uniforms, are identified as Muhammad Abu Jamus and Imad Abu Rizek. (Hamas had announced on December 21 that it would suspend suicide attacks inside Israel after Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat called for a halt to violence, prompted by a series of deadly bombings on Israeli civilians in early December.) The attack at Kerem Shalom shatters what Israeli Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer calls the quietest week in 15 months of violence.
On the diplomatic front:
  • The Palestinian leadership immediately condemns the attack, saying it would be "relentless" in enforcing Arafat's call for a cease-fire. The leadership "adopted and is adopting measures against all those who play with our national security and our national interests," the Palestinian Authority says, adding it will seek those responsible.
  • Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's response: "The terror attack today is a continuation of terror attacks which are carried out as result of the terror strategy that Arafat initiated. The attack was carried out by the terror coalition that Arafat created. We see the Palestinian Authority as totally responsible. In a few days...the government will have to decide its policy regarding the Palestinian Authority."
  • A previously planned meeting of the Israeli Security Cabinet is devoted to the implications of the attack.

    Four Israeli soldiers, 2 Palestinians die in attack
    on Israeli post
    . CNN
    Attack shatters lull in Mideast violence . CNN
  • Israeli tanks and jeeps occupy a Palestinian military base in Rafah, an area usually under complete Palestinian control. The base belongs to the Palestinian navy and is located next to an Israeli army post. Palestinian forces evacuated the base earlier in the day. Israeli army bulldozers destroy 2 Palestinian Security Forces structures near the site of the attack, saying Palestinians there gave cover to militants.
  • Israel then sends tanks and bulldozers into the refugee camp in Rafah to flatten houses it claims were used to fire on its troops. The Palestinian Authority reports 30 homes are destroyed and approx. 200 people displaced; the IDF cites smaller figures, and claims the homes had largely been unoccupied in recent months. The UN reports 58 homes are damaged or destroyed during the incursion, leaving 511 people homeless. The vehicles reportedly move approx. 50 meters inside the city; no resistance to them is shown. There are no reports of gunfire.
On the diplomatic front:
  • In his strongest statement to date, President Bush tells Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat he "must renounce terror" and "work hard" to get back to the peace table. Bush does not accuse Arafat of involvement in the Karine A incident, but he does say Arafat must take definitive steps to put an end to violence. Once it is determined who was behind the shipment, "those responsible must be held to account," says Bush.
  • A senior State Department official tells sources that the United States has been shown credible evidence that Arafat knew about and may have approved payment for the Karine A shipment. A senior State Department official tells CNN the operation was of such magnitude that "we have to conclude Arafat would have known." Publicly, however, Secretary of State Colin Powell says the US has developed its own information that "makes it clear there are linkages to the Palestinian Authority." But he adds: "I have not seen information that yet links it directly to Chairman Arafat."

    Bush turns up pressure on Arafat . CNN
    US ups pressure over arms ship . BBC News
    Weapons ship mystery deepens . BBC News
  • Early Friday, Israeli tanks tear up the runway of Gaza International Airport, a key symbol of Palestinian aspirations for statehood, which was in the process of being repaired after a similar Israeli raid last December.
  • Israeli tanks then enter the town of Rafah, on the Egyptian border, where soldiers arrest 8 Palestinians they accuse of smuggling weapons. Eight people are injured when a house, which Israel says covered a tunnel used for smuggling weapons across the border, is destroyed.
On the diplomatic front:
  • The Palestinian Authority announces it has detained Fuad al-Shobaky, the official in charge of administration and finance for Palestinian security, for questioning in the Karine A arms shipment incident. The authority also orders Palestinian officials Fathi al Razem and Adel al Mouragabi to be detained and questioned, along with several other Palestinians whose names are not released. The names of suspects were supplied by the Israelis, who intercepted the ship and questioned its commander. Although the authority insists it was not involved, the US asks Arafat to provide an explanation for the arms shipment.
  • US Secretary of State Colin Powell defends Israel's latest military operation in the Palestinian territories as a "defensive action" to stop weapons falling into the hands of their neighbors. Powell says Israel's actions on Friday were taken to counter weapons smuggling, following the seizure of the Karine A. "A lot of their military activity in the last 24 hours has been to destroy routes of bringing weapons in from the southern part of the Gaza Strip," he tells reporters. "It's a defensive action on their part."

    Israelis hit Palestinian naval targets . CNN
    Powell defends Israeli raids . BBC News
  • In response to Wednesday's Palestinian attack on Israeli soldiers in southern Israel, Israeli missiles fired from the sea strike Palestinian naval targets near Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat's office in Gaza City. One boat is capsized and another badly damaged; a larger patrol boat—the Jandala, which has been used occasionally by Arafat—is destroyed with explosives planted by divers. A fuel deposit explodes and burns.
  • A heavy firefight takes place in Khan Yunis, when Israeli bulldozers raze several Palestinian homes.
  • A series of explosions occur in Rafah, in southern Gaza. An Israeli tank shell targets and hits one house, injuring 4 people.
  • Palestinian mourners in the Gaza town of Rafah bury 2 members of the militant group Hamas, who attacked an Israeli military post January 9, killing 4 soldiers.
On the diplomatic front:
On the diplomatic front:
  • The Israeli army's demolition of Palestinian houses in southern Gaza last week sparks debate within Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's Cabinet. The demolitions divide politicians, prompting Sharon to respond that critics of the demolitions did not know all the facts behind the operation. Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, who has frequently clashed with Sharon, says he would insist that the demolitions be checked. Israeli science, culture and sports minister Matan Vilnai feels the operation hurt Israel's image across the globe. Defense Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer, who leads the Labor party, maintains the structures had been abandoned. Labor's Salah Tarif, the first Israeli Arab to hold a cabinet post in Israel, hints that Israel should provide mobile homes to families whose homes have been demolished. However, Shlomo Benizri, minister of labor and social affairs, is quoted as saying the critics "create headlines in the media before they hear an official government report, and this then shapes Israel's image." Environment Minister Tzachi Hanegbi urges fellow ministers to back the military action.

    Writing in Sunday's edition of Ha'aretz, defense analyst Ze'ev Schiff says the solders' deaths gave the army "a convenient backdrop against which to stage their destructive action…This is a prime example of excessive and unreasonable force, which was not born out of any need for self-defense…This, therefore, is a shameful chapter in the history of the IDF and of Israel."
  • Israeli Foreign Minister, Shimon Peres praises as "courageous" a senior Palestinian official's call for the creation of a demilitarized Palestinian state. Sari Nusseibeh, the top Palestinian official in East Jerusalem, says it would be better for the Palestinians if any future state was demilitarized: "In the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, weapons can in no way help find the solution," he tells the German weekly Der Spiegel. Peres said it was "a courageous declaration...coming from a man who has already shown independent thinking in the past." Nusseibeh is the Palestine Liberation Organisation's Jerusalem commissioner.
  • Speaking on the Arab-language news channel Al-Jazeera, Arafat again denies Palestinian Authority leaders were involved in the Karine A arms shipment, or that the authority is buying arms from Iran.

    Israel debates army's razing of Palestinian houses . CNN
    Arafat aide proposes demilitarised state . BBC News
  • Raed al-Karmi, a top militant from Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's Fatah party, is killed. While there are conflicting reports Monday on how he is killed, Palestinian sources report al-Karmi died when a blast goes off as he passed by a cemetery in Tulkarem. Al-Karmi had claimed responsibility for the deaths last year of 2 Tel Aviv restaurant owners who were killed in Tulkarem. Israeli authorities have also accused him of being involved in the deaths of 8 other Israelis. Al-Karmi survived an assassination attempt by Israeli forces last September when the car he was riding in was the target of missiles; 2 passengers in the car were killed in the attack.
  • Following al-Karmi's death, the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, the military wing of Fatah, announces it will no longer honor a cease-fire Arafat called December 16.
  • Hours later, the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade launches an attack near the Shavei Shomron settlement west of Nablus, killing 1 Israeli soldier and wounding another. The Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades claims responsibility for the killing. The militant group releases a statement that promises it will "balance the terror" inflicted on Palestinians until Israel withdraws from its occupation of the Palestinian territories.
  • The Al Aqsa Brigades also claims responsibility Monday afternoon for a drive-by shooting at a Jewish settlement west of Nablus, during which Israeli Army Sgt. Elad Abu-Gani, 19, of Tiberias, is killed and 2nd Lt. Yaniv Uzi-Dan sustains light-to-moderate gunshot wounds.
On the diplomatic front:
  • Marwan Barghouti, the head of the Fatah movement on the West Bank and other Palestinian leaders meet with Arafat Monday afternoon and plead with him to drop the demand he made December 16 for a halt in attacks on Israel. Barghouti also blames Israel for the killing of al-Karmi, saying the Israelis have abandoned an informal cease-fire with the Palestinians. The leaders of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade refuse to wait for the meeting, however, and announce its members will no longer honor Arafat's call.
  • Officials in Jerusalem flatten at least 5 houses in East Jerusalem's Isawiya, an Arab neighborhood, saying they were built without the proper permits. City officials state no one—Arabs or Jews—are allowed to build without permits; however, Palestinians complain that they have no choice but to build without permits. They contend the Jerusalem city government rarely issues permits as a way of holding down the Arab population of Jerusalem. A short while later, Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres announces after a meeting of the security cabinet that Israel will stop the demolition of houses in Palestinian territories.

    Israeli soldier killed in Palestinian attack . CNN
    Leading Palestinian killed in blast . BBC News
    Killing sparks fresh Mid-East violence . BBC News
  • An Israeli army official reports Avi Goaz, 72, an elderly Jewish settler who was also an American citizen, is shot 20 times in the head and chest as he travels from his home in the Ma'ale Edumin settlement east of Jerusalem to Bethlehem to buy building supplies. Police pull his body from a bullet-riddled car in the Palestinian town of Beit Sahour near Bethlehem in the West Bank. The Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades is believed to be behind the killing.
  • Later in the day, Israeli ambulance officials report an Israeli woman on her way to a wedding north of Jerusalem is shot and killed when her car is fired on near a gas station outside the Jewish settlement of Givat Zeev in the West Bank. A passenger in her car is seriously wounded. Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades is suspected of carrying out the attack.
On the diplomatic front:
  • The Palestinian Authority announces the arrest of Ahmad Sa'adat, secretary-general of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Tuesday night near Bethlehem. Israel has pressed for Sa'adat's arrest, who has been at the top of their most-wanted list since the group claimed responsibility for assassinating Israeli Tourism Minister, Rehavam Zeevi, last October when the Cabinet minister was gunned down at an East Jerusalem hotel. The PFLP said the assassination was in retaliation for the killing of a PFLP leader by Israel.
  • In reaction to Sa'adat's arrest, the radical Palestinian groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad announce they will no longer honor a ceasefire called by Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat on December 16. In statements sent to news agencies, both vow to launch new attacks on Israel. Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades also calls for renewed attacks on Israel because of Sa'adat's arrest and in retaliation for the death Monday of popular Fatah leader Raed al-Karmi.
  • The Izz Eddin al-Kasam Martyrs Brigades, the militant wing of the Islamic group Hamas, threatens to launch new attacks inside Israel if travel restrictions on Arafat are not lifted. Since early December, Arafat has been confined to his compound in Ramallah until he orders Sa'adat's arrest and 3 others Israel claims were involved in Ze'evi's death. In one high-profile incident, Israel refused to allow Arafat to attend Christmas celebrations in Bethlehem. Arafat's confinement came after Israel retaliated for Palestinian suicide bombings in Jerusalem and Haifa and destroyed Arafat's helicopters.
  • More than 1,000 Palestinians demonstrate against Sa'adat's arrest in Ramallah.
  • Israeli security officials report an upsurge in reports of planned terror attacks.
  • In Tulkarem, hundreds of mourners shout "revenge, revenge" and fire weapons into the air as they carry the body of al-Karmi, whom Palestinians consider a hero, through the streets. After the funeral, a Palestinian Authority official issues a statement that the authority will continue to honor Arafat's ceasefire of December 16. The commander of the West Bank Fatah also says his movement will abide by the ceasefire.

    Palestinian leader arrested; two Israelis killed . CNN
    Palestinian militant mourned . CNN
    Powell defends Israeli raids . BBC News
    Analysis: The CIA and the arms ship . BBC News
  • An Israeli Arab is found dead in his bullet-riddled car Wednesday morning near the West Bank settlement of Sanur. The man is identified as Shadeh Dades, 30, who lived in Jerusalem's Beit Hanina neighborhood and was delivering medical supplies. Israel Radio quotes security sources as saying Dades' killers probably believed he was Jewish because he had yellow Israeli license plates on his car.
On the diplomatic front:
  • Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon says he has seen no proof the Palestinian Authority has actually arrested Ahmad Sa'adat. Sharon cast doubts on the report of the arrest, saying the Palestinian Authority has continually failed to make arrests and to dismantle terrorist organizations in the Palestinian territories. Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Arye Mekel tells reporters if the Palestinian Authority has arrested Sa'adat, it is doubtful they will hold him.

    Sharon says he doubts PFLP leader's arrest: Radical Palestinian groups react with anger . CNN
    Israel skeptical about arrest . BBC News
  • Thursday night, a gunman carrying an M-16 rifle, wearing an ammunition belt and carrying a grenade, kills 7 Israelis at a bat mitzvah for a 12-year-old girl in Hadera, a coastal city in northern Israel. More than 30 are injured, some seriously, as 180 friends and relatives of the Kardushov family gather in a dance hall to celebrate young Mina's coming of age. The gunman is shot dead by police outside the dance hall as guests at the bat mitzvah push him out into the street while he fires his weapon. Israeli army radio reports the attacker was a Palestinian suicide bomber who tried to detonate explosives attached to his body at the entrance to the hall, but was overtaken by security guards. The attacker reportedly then threw a hand grenade into the crowd. The militant Palestinian group Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade identifies the Hadera attacker as Abed Hassouneh of Nablus, and says the attack was in revenge for the killing of Fatah member Raed Karmi on Monday.
On the diplomatic front:
  • Israel's government immediately blames the Hadera attack on the Palestinian Authority, saying its leader Yasser Arafat has "chosen the path of terrorism". Israeli government spokesman Avi Pazner: "We hold the Palestinian Authority and (Palestinian President Yasser) Arafat directly responsible for the deaths of those who died today in this horrible terrorist attack...We are going to respond in a manner which will teach the Palestinian Authority a lesson they will not forget."
  • The United States condems the attack as a "horrific act of terrorism" and demands Arafat acts against militants. US Deputy State Department spokesman Philip Reeker: "Chairman Arafat must take immediate action against those responsible for these acts and confront the infrastructure that perpetuates terror and violence."
  • The current president of the European Union—Spain's Foreign Minister Josep Pique—condemns the attack, and urges Arafat to arrest those responsible and bring them to justice.

    Seven killed in attack in Israel . BBC News
    'Another dark day in Israel' . BBC News
  • Before dawn, Israeli tanks and armored carriers roll within 150 feet of Palestinian Authority's headquarters in Ramallah; the IDF is met with a shower of stones thrown by dozens of local Palestinian protesters. One demonstrator, 22-year-old Hani Odeh, is shot by Israeli troops, and dies in hospital from bullet wounds to his head and neck. Israeli F-16 fighters blast the compound of the city's Palestinian governor, killing a policeman and injuring at least 40 people. Witnesses report the Israeli tanks occupy approx. 55% of the town. Thirteen neighborhoods are placed under curfew. The military action comes in retaliation for the armed attack in Hadera on Thursday.
  • In Tulkarm, Israeli warplanes destroy the governor's headquarters as part of reprisals for the Hadera shooting.
On the diplomatic front:
  • Senior Palestinian official Saeb Erekat condemns the Hadera killing and the Israeli retaliation; Erekat pleads for international leaders to help stop the Israeli retaliatory action: "The Palestinian Authority is asking for urgent international intervention to end Sharon's military plans to destroy the authority and the peace process with it."

    Israeli army blows up Palestinian broadcasting center . CNN
    Israel tightens Arafat siege . BBC News
  • Early Saturday, Israeli soldiers blow up the building housing the headquarters of the Voice of Palestine radio service and several Palestinian television studio facilities. The Israeli army surrounds the building around 4 a.m. Saturday (9 p.m. Friday EST), evacuates it and then blows it up about an hour later. Eyewitnesses report the Israelis placed dynamite in the studios and gasoline on the roof, where the transmitters were. (The Israeli military usually flattens structures with bulldozers.) The broadcast center's top three floors are destroyed; hours later, smoke still emanates from the building, which is surrounded by Israeli tanks. The force confiscates part of the equipment and blows up the building. At the end of the operation IDF leaves the area, and returns to Israeli-controlled territory. No casualties are caused by the operation. Broadcasting employees try to salvage equipment from the building's first floor. Israel Defense Forces release a statement saying the action was in response to the Hadera attack.
  • Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat appeals to Europeans and Americans to help end the escalation of violence, which began with the death of Fatah leader Raed al-Karmi on Monday.
  • Saturday night, Israeli and Palestinians exchange gunfire near the Palestinian Authority's headquarters in Ramallah.
  • To the north, about 80 Israeli tanks edge closer Saturday to the West Bank city of Tulkarem.
On the diplomatic front:
  • UN diplomats trade accusations during a Security Council debate about efforts to control the threat of global terrorism. Syria—which has just joined the Security Council as a non-permanent member—and Israel hurl accusations at one another. The Syrian representative accuses the Israelis of committing war crimes and terrorism, saying the Israeli army's recent destruction of homes in a Palestinian refugee camp are comparable to the attack last year on the World Trade Center in New York. While these views find some favor among other Arab delegates, they are not welcomed by Israel's closest ally, the United States, nor the Israeli ambassador, who describes them as baseless. The Israeli ambassador claims they were made in an attempt to draw attention away from Syria's support for terrorist groups.
  • US-based press-freedom campaign group Committee to Protect Journalists call the destruction of the Palestinian Broadcasting Corporation (PBC), headquarters of the Voice of Palestine radio service, a "reprehensible attack".

    Israeli army blows up Palestinian broadcasting center . CNN
    Accusations traded at terrorism debate . BBC News
    Stripping Gaza of statehood dream . BBC News
  • As hundreds of people demonstrate in Ramallah, a gun battle erupts with Israeli soldiers when a tank becomes stuck in a narrow road. Twelve Palestinians and 1 Israeli is injured.
On the diplomatic front:
  • An estimated 10,000 Palestinians march through the Gaza Strip protesting the Israeli blockade of Yasser Arafat's headquarters in the West Bank town of Ramallah. Sharon says Arafat is now effectively a prisoner of Israel.
  • The blockade also draws a response from the militant Palestinian group, Islamic Jihad, who threaten to resume attacks on Israel if the siege is not lifted. An unnamed representative of the group in Gaza tells the French news agency AFP that the group will not "stay with its hands tied."
  • Sharon is quoted by the Israeli daily Maariv, saying: "It is preferable that Arafat stays locked in Ramallah instead of being expelled from the territories as he could cause more harm outside...He opens the windows of his Ramallah offices, he sees our tanks and knows he has nowhere to go. He is dying to travel and fly off. It's making him sick since he knows he is locked up in our jail."
  • A spokesman for Arafat, Nabil Aburdeneh, accuses Israel of waging psychological warfare against the Palestinians "by putting Arafat under such a humiliating siege."

    Thousands demand Arafat's release . BBC News
  • In a military maneuver involving 100 tanks, armored personnel carriers and helicopter gunships—the most far-reaching raid since the Palestinian uprising began more than a year ago—Israeli forces commandeer of the West Bank town of Tulkarm. Troops take over 8 buildings, including the mayor's villa and a police operations room, sandbagging rooftops and hoisting Israeli flags. One Palestinian is shot dead and several others injured as gun battles break out during the incursion, with fighting especially fierce in the Tulkarm refugee camp, which borders the town. Another Palestinian is killed by Israeli forces in a nearby camp where Palestinian gunmen sought refuge. Israel says the incursion is in response to last Friday's attack in Hadera. Troops impose a curfew on the town, and arrest more than 20 suspected Palestinian militants in house-to-house searches, including 3 men belonging to the militant Palestinian group Hamas. The city's Governor, Izzedin Sharif, urges residents to defy the curfew and resist Israeli troops. The incursion comes 3 days after Israeli tanks moved into positions outside Arafat's offices in Ramallah.
  • DF troops also surround 2 adjacent refugee camps, Tulkarm and Nur Shams. The sound of sporadic gunfire can be heard, but the soldiers are not met with major resistance.
  • Two Palestinians are killed in a gun battle with Israeli forces in Ramallah, where troops have moved to within feet of Yasser Arafat's headquarters.
On the diplomatic front:
  • Palestinian leader Arafat condemns Israel for its new incursion: "They [Israel] have crossed all red lines and our people cannot stand with their eyes closed to these Israeli attempts."
  • United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan denounces Israel's takeover of the Palestinian city of Tulkarm and urges both sides to reach a ceasefire. UN spokeswoman Marie Okabe tells reporters the secretary general is "very concerned by the major Israeli incursion today into the Palestinian city of Tulkarm, in contravention of signed bilateral agreements."
  • United Nations Middle East envoy Terje Roed-Larsen calls the Israeli incursion a "dangerous escalation" which would lead to more deaths. Roed-Larsen, one of the architects of the stalled Oslo peace process, acknowledges what he calls Israel's "legitimate concern about continuing attacks," but warns that violence will solve nothing.
  • In an unprecedented joint declaration, leaders from the 3 main religions of the Middle East pledge their commitment to ending violence in the region. Signed in the Egyptian port city of Alexandria, the declaration comes at the end of talks chaired by the Archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey, and hosted by the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Sheikh Mohamed Sayyed Tantawy. Saying that bloodshed must not be allowed to pollute the Holy Land, the assembled Jewish rabbis, Muslim sheikhs and Christian clerics call on all parties to refrain from incitement and demonization and take steps to return to negotiations. They say they will form a permanent committee of religious leaders from Israel and the Palestinian territories, to pursue the implementation of their declaration.

    Israeli troops take over Tulkarm . BBC News
    Mid-East religions condemn bloodshed . BBC News
  • Early Tuesday IDF sources report that during an exchange of fire in Nablus, Israeli troops kill 4 members of Hamas in a raid on an explosives laboratory in the al-Majeen district, about half a kilometer from the center of Nablus, where they find a large cache of explosives. During the operation, 9 Palestinians are arrested. Palestinians sources, however, dispute that a gun battle occurred, instead calling the raid an assassination, and saying the 4 were shot at close range, 3 as they lay in their beds and 1 who was taking a shower. The IDF denies the charges. Palestinian sources report those killed were members of Hamas, an organization known among Palestinians on the West Bank and Gaza for actions such as building schools, hospitals and helping the community in social and religious ways. Its military wing, Izzedine al Quassam, has carried out suicide bombings and other attacks on Israeli civilians. Palestinian security sources identify those killed as Youssef Surabgi, Nassim Abu al Russ, Jasser Samaro and Karim Mafarjeh. Israeli security sources assert 2 of the men—Jasser Samaro and Nassim Abu al Russ—were involved in building bombs used in terror attacks in Haifa, at the Sbarro pizzeria in Jerusalem and at the Dolphinarium in Tel Aviv.
  • A short time after the raid, Hamas sends a message to several news agencies vowing it will wage an "all out war" against Israel in retaliation.
  • Shortly after, in central Jerusalem, a Palestinian gunman fires on people gathered on a busy downtown street, killing 2 Israeli women and injuring 46 people before himself being killed. Ambulance workers report at least 15 people with bullet wounds; 46 are taken to hospitals, with at least 6 suffering serious wounds. Israeli police kill the gunman as he tries to flee. According to Jerusalem Police Chief Mikki Levy, the gunman walked to the corner of Jaffa and King George streets and began firing at people waiting at a bus stop nearby. The incident takes place near a popular shopping mall, the scene of a suicide bombing in December 2001. The Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades identify the gunman as Saeed Ibrihim Ramadan, 24, from a village near Nablus, and claim responsibility for the attack, saying it is in revenge for the killing of Fatah leader Raed al-Karmi on January 14 and for the deaths of 4 Hamas activists who were killed earlier in the Israeli raid in the West Bank town of Nablus.
  • Palestinian police release a jailed Hamas member (the brother of one of the 4 men killed in Nablus this morning) after thousands of angry protesters besiege the police station where he was being held in the West Bank town of Nablus. Police fire shots into the crowd, who throw stones, attack vehicles and try to set the police station on fire, demanding further releases. Several people are injured.
  • Later in the morning, the IDF withdraws its troops from the West Bank town of Tulkarem. The seizure of Tulkarem Monday marked the first time the Israeli military has taken control of an entire Palestinian town since the current Palestinian uprising began 16 months ago. The IDF reports it "successfully completed its mission and is currently stationed around the city, prepared for any eventuality." Lt. Gen. Shaul Moffaz, chief of the IDF general staff, reports Israeli troops arrested "20 terror supporters" including 4 on Israel's most wanted list. Palestinians report at least 4 Palestinians were killed and 50 wounded in Tulkarem and Ramallah during Israeli operations Monday.
  • A powerful earthquake, ranging from 5.8 to 6.4 on the Richter scale, is felt by countries bordering the eastern Mediterranean, including Egypt, Greece and Israel. No casualties or damage are reported. The epicentre is close to the island of Rhodes, but the tremors are strong enough to be felt in Cairo.
On the diplomatic front:
  • Israeli jet fighters fire 2 missiles at suspected Hezbollah positions near Kfarshouba, a village facing the Shebaa farms in south Lebanon, after an attack by the Lebanese militant group, Hezbollah, on Israeli army posts in a disputed border area. Israeli artillery also fire a number of shells. The Shebaa farms have been a flashpoint on the border since Israel pulled out of Lebanon a year-and-a-half ago. Israel seized the farms in 1967 from Syria, but Lebanon says the land belongs to them. The area has been quiet for several months.
  • It is estimated that in January there have been between 2,000 and 3,000 Palestinians detained in Israeli jails. Most are either convicted or in the middle of some kind of judicial process. Another 34 are being held under a system of "administrative detention" instituted by the British authorities who ruled Mandate Palestine before 1948. While the IDF maintains "We arrest all those essential to the infrastructure of terrorist attacks," during recent operations into refugee camps in the West Bank and Gaza, the IDF has simply rounded up all men between 14 and 45 years old. In some cases thousands of men are blindfolded, bound at the wrists and numbered with a band on their arms. "[Since the beginning of the intifada] no Palestinians who have been arrested by the Israelis have been tried. Their detention is just being extended...In the investigation period of a person's detention, there are many reports of torture during questioning," Dr. Said Zeedani, head of the Palestinian Independent Centre for Citizens' Rights tells BBC News Online. B'Tselem research director Yael Stein says: "The judicial process, carried out by the military courts, is very poor, mainly because the defendant and his lawyers cannot see the evidence that will be presented against them before the trial."
On the diplomatic front:
  • US Secretary of State Colin Powell calls Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, and urges him to head off any new terror attacks on Israel. Powell tells Arafat that Israeli officials have information that a new, intense wave of terror attacks on Israel is being planned; he strongly urges Arafat to intervene. In reply, Arafat reaffirms his commitment to a ceasefire with Israel, and asks Powell to send US envoy Anthony Zinni back to the region to help put the ceasefire into effect. Powell replies that Zinni will not return to the region "without some action" on Arafat's report. Powell also speaks with Sharon by phone.
  • Rep. Eliot Engel, D-New York, a member of the International Relations Committee's Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia, sends Powell a letter requesting Arafat's Palestine Liberation Organization be added to the State Department's list of terrorist organizations. "Given the record of involvement in terrorism by Fatah, Arafat's central faction of the PLO, the Fatah Tanzim, the Al-Aqsa Brigade, and Force 17, I strongly urge that you list as terrorist organizations the PLO and its militant components in the next annual Patterns of Global Terrorism report," writes Engel. The State Department has long been investigating possible Fatah, Tanzim and Force 17 involvement in terrorist activity, but so far no move against the groups has been taken.
  • White House officials expect legislation by Congress which calls on the administration to take further action against Arafat and the Palestinian Authority. Late last year a resolution passed the House and Senate, which called on President Bush to suspend ties with the Palestinians. But officials believe such a change in policy at present is unlikely: "...the indications are that we [will] remain engaged."
  • Israel announces plans to reopen to non-Muslims the most sensitive religious area in Jerusalem, the Temple Mount or Haram al-Sharif. Israeli internal security ministry spokesman Nati Goldfinger says the site could be reopened to Jews and other religious groups within the next 2 weeks. Since the Palestinian uprising began 16 months ago, only Muslims have been allowed to visit the site. Palestinians blame a visit there by Israeli Prime Minister Sharon, which incensed Muslims, for provoking the conflict in September 2000. Fights broke out during his visit and clashes occured between Israeli police and Palestinians the next day. The Islamic Waqf, the religious trust which administers the site, later decided to bar non-Muslim visitors. The site is sacred to both religions. To Muslims, it is where the Prophet Muhammad ascended to heaven and is home to the al-Aqsa mosque. To Jews, it is where Abraham prepared to sacrifice his son and where Judaism's first and second temples once stood. There have been warnings that reopening the site to non-Muslims could bring new violence.

    Powell urges Arafat to head off attacks . CNN
    U.S. weighs options for Arafat . CNN
    Israel responds to Hezbollah attack . BBC News
    Rounding up Palestinian militants . BBC News
    Israel 'to open up Temple Mount' . BBC News
  • In the town of Khan Younis, Bakr Hamdan—a 30 year-old Hamas activist—is killed and 2 other Palestinians seriously wounded when an Israeli helicopter gunship attacks their car in southern Gaza. Israel says the attack was carried out to prevent a "spectacular" terrorist operation. Hamdan is in the vehicle when it is struck by 2 missiles from an Apache helicopter. Israel claims Hamdan was "personally responsible for dozens of terrorist attacks carried out against Israeli civilians and soldiers in the Gaza" and was in the process of preparing a major attack against Israeli targets there. The IDF asserts Hamdan "was part of the Hamas network which was led last year by Salah Shahada—a network responsible for most of the serious terror attack which took place in the Gaza" over the last year, including an attack earlier this month on the outpost near Kerem Shalom in which 4 Bedouin soldiers were killed. The wounded are identified as Hazem Nashwan and Hazem Nimer, the son of Hamas leader Ahmad Nimer.
  • Thursday evening in southern Gaza, Israeli troops intercept an armed group of Palestinians trying to enter an Israeli settlement in Gush Katif. Two Palestinians are killed during an exchange of fire. Palestinian sources report the men were members of Hamas.
  • Elsewhere, near Bethlehem, the Israeli police arrest 10 Palestinians "suspected of terror activities and criminal activities against Israeli civilians and IDF forces."
  • Two Palestinian militants are killed earlier Thursday in an explosion in Gaza. The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) claims responsibility for what it describes as a suicide operation, saying it was in revenge for Israel's "assassination of four martyrs" in the West Bank town of Nablus on Tuesday.
  • Palestinian security officials reports a Palestinian intelligence officer dies in a gun battle with Israeli troops in Ramallah, where Israeli tanks encircle the headquarters of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.
On the diplomatic front:
  • The Palestinian Authority condemns the attack, and accuses Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon of trying to further derail Mideast peace initiatives: "Sharon is continuing his aggression against the Palestinian people, and he conducts these crimes in order to provoke a Palestinian response and to undermine American peace efforts in the region." (Nabil Abu-Rudeineh, a spokesman for Arafat) Abu-Rudeineh asks the US to pressure Sharon to end his "assassination policies in order to restore calm to the region."
  • The speaker of the Palestinian parliament, Ahmed Qureia, warns that the violence could lead to "a generalized disaster". Qureia invites Israel's parliament speaker, Avraham Burg, to address the Palestinian legislature, after meeting in France with Burg and with Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres—both dovish members of the moderate Labor party. Burg says he will accept the invitation and go to Ramallah if it is legal under Israeli regulations. But Israel's Defense Minister, Binyamin Ben Eliezer, says he intendsto ban Burg from going. "Like all Israelis who head to the Palestinian territories, Avraham Burg must receive permission from the army," Ben Eliezer says on public television. The Palestinian intelligence chief, General Tawfiq Tirawi, contacts the television station and says: "Burg does not run any risks and he will be received with open arms."
  • Palestinian leaders appeal for international intervention, saying they cannot enforce a ceasefire while West Bank towns remain under siege and Israel continues to kill suspected militants. But White House spokesman Ari Fleischer says President Bush understands why Israel "has taken the action that it takes, and it is up to Chairman Arafat to demonstrate the leadership to combat terrorism."
  • Meanwhile, the Bush administration engages in an intense, high-level debate as to how best to deal with Yasser Arafat and the Palestinian Authority. Several senior US officials tell CNN that Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and their senior aides in recent days have advised President Bush to suspend relations with the Palestinian Authority. Others have urged the opposite. Secretary of State Colin Powell has told President Bush that he believes it's important to maintain some sort of relationship with Arafat. Options under consideration include "putting a lot more pressure on Arafat to actually cutting off contact with the Palestinian Authority." Powell believes "nothing would be gained," by cutting ties with Arafat and that US allies in Europe and the Arab world would not stand for such a move. Ultimately, the Bush administration's next move will hinge on whether Arafat takes steps to improve the security situation.
  • Late Thursday, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon accepts an invitation from President Bush to meet with him in the US on February 7. It will be Sharon's second visit to the United States in just over two months, whereas Arafat has not yet met the US president since he took office a year ago.
  • Israeli and Palestinian human rights activists launch a challenge in the High Court to Israel's policy of so-called targeted killings of suspected Palestinian militants. The Public Committee Against Torture in Israel and the Palestinian rights group, LAW, say the policy is blatantly illegal and all those involved in it are clearly breaking normal standards of international justice—and possibly committing war crimes. The activists call on the court to order Prime Minister Sharon, as well as the defense minister and the head of the army, to stop the killings.
  • Palestinian broadcasters say they plan to sue Israel for at least $10m compensation for destroying their headquarters and transmission tower. The head of the PBC, Radwan Abu Ayyash, says his company will pursue the Israeli Government through unspecified international legal channels. Israel has accused the Voice of Palestine of incitement during the 16-month-old Palestinian uprising, a claim denied by Abu Ayyash.
  • Israel and Lebanon are at loggerheads over the death of former militia leader Elie Hobeika who is killed with 5 others in a massive car bomb in east Beirut. Lebanese officials implicate Israel in the assassination, saying it wanted to prevent Hobeika from testifying against Israeli Prime Minister Sharon in a Belgian court case about the Sabra and Shatila refugee camp massacres in 1982. Interior minister Elias Murr claims to have "confirmation" of Israeli involvement, although he does not elaborate further. Sharon responds that Israel has no link to the killing, saying the allegation is "not worthy of comment." Meanwhile, a previously unknown group calling itself Lebanese for a Free and Independent Lebanon claim responsibility for the bombing, branding Hobeika a "Syrian agent", an apparent reference to his transfer of allegiance towards Damascus after Lebanon's 1975-90 civil war.

    Hamas activist killed in helicopter gunship attack . CNN
    U.S. weighs options for Arafat . CNN
    Challenge to Israel's 'assassination policy' . BBC News
    Israeli missiles 'kill Hamas militant' . BBC News
    Palestinians seek $10m for radio attack . BBC News
    Warlord death 'link with Sharon case' . BBC News
  • Friday morning, a suicide bomber riding a motorcycle sets off an explosive device near Tel Aviv's old bus station, killing himself and wounding at least 22 people, two seriously. The bombing occurs in a busy shopping district of central Tel Aviv. The militant Islamic Jihad group claims responsibility for the attack, and identifies the bomber as 18-year-old Safwat Khalil.
  • Hours later, Israeli fighter planes strike Palestinian security installations in Gaza City and the town of Tulkarm late Friday. There is no immediate word on casualties from the airstrikes; at least 1 person is wounded. The attack on Gaza targets the Ansar security compound near Arafat's seaside headquarters. Ambulances rush to the compound that is hit in the raids. The compound houses some of Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat's offices, as well as offices for the Palestinian naval police and Force 17—Arafat's bodyguards. In the West Bank town of Tulkarem, missiles launched by F-16s fighters strike the main government office building, located close to the governor's residence. The building was also hit in an Israeli raid last week.
  • Earlier Friday, Israeli helicopters fire missiles in Gaza, killing a senior Islamic militant.
  • In the West Bank, two Hamas activists, suspected of carrying out terror attacks against civilian and military targets, are arrested Friday by Israeli troops.
  • The Israeli army kills 2 gunmen who try to infiltrate a Jewish settlement in the southern Gaza Strip. After an exchange of fire, the two Palestinians are hit by a tank shell.
  • Three rockets are fired at the Erez crossing between Israel and Gaza. No damage or injuries are reported. Hamas claims responsibility for the rocket attack, which involves Qassam 1 rockets. Israel Radio reports that Hamas claims to have rockets that are capable of delivering explosive charges 10 kilometers (about 6 miles), a range that would allow it to strike many cities in Israel.
  • Israeli forces enter the West Bank village of Talouza, north of Nablus, and leave after making 2 arrests.
  • In Ramallah, Israeli soldiers fire tear gas and rubber-coated bullets at Palestinian stone-throwers when hundreds take to the streets to protest against Israel's occupation and its killings of militants. Palestinian hospital sources report 11 people are wounded.
  • Israeli troops withdraw from the neighborhood of Al-Tira in Ramallah, where two Palestinian policemen were shot dead in a week of clashes.
On the diplomatic front:
  • The Palestinian Authority condemns the Tel Aviv suicide attack on Israeli civilians, but also condemns what it calls Israeli assassinations. Palestinian leaders believe the Israelis have been given a green light to launch air strikes by an apparent toughening of US policy against the Palestinians.
  • Israeli spokesmen are quick to lay the blame for the suicide bombing at the door of Yasser Arafat, who is currently besieged by the Israeli army in his West Bank headquarters in the West Bank city of Ramallah. "All the signs point to one of the extremist Palestinian groups but again, the responsibility belongs to the Palestinian Authority which is continuing a policy of terror," says Danny Ayalon, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's foreign policy adviser.
  • US President Bush provides Arab allies with evidence he says proves the Palestinian Authority's involvement in the Karine-A arms ship incident of January. The information is sent in letters to the leaders of Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt.
  • With reports of the latest Mideast violence still fresh, President Bush expresses disappointment with Arafat, saying the Palestinian leader must do more to end terrorism. Bush comments after his national security team met to discuss potential sanctions against the Palestinian Authority: "I am disappointed in Yasser Arafat...He must make a full effort to rout out terror in the Middle East. In order for there to be peace we've got to rout out terror…Ordering up weapons that were intercepted on a boat headed for that part of that world is not part of fighting terror, that's enhancing terror and I'm obviously very disappointed in him," (referring to the Karine-A shipment of arms intercepted by Israel). Bush presses Arafat to accept responsibility for the arms-smuggling operation with Iran.
  • Assistant Secretary of State William Burns is scheduled to meet with several Arab ambassadors to press them on the need to get Arafat to take stronger steps to combat terrorism and reduce violence in the region. Burns will also encourage the Arab ambassadors to pressure Arafat to explain the weapons shipment. Israel Radio reports the Bush administration has provided a number of Arab nations with proof that the Palestinian Authority was involved in attempting to smuggle the weapons into the Palestinian territories aboard the Karine-A.
  • While the global press continues to report a repeated cycle of attack and response, response and attack, Israel insists there is no 'cycle of violence,' arguing that it is under continuous attack and the Palestinian Authority (PA) does nothing to stop the attacks. Because the PA has failed to control Palestinian violence, Israel says, the army is obliged to go into the West Bank and Gaza to act against the militants.

    Palestinians argue that even if the PA were inclined to act against Hamas and Islamic Jihad, as it has done in the past, it is not able to do so now, because Israeli policies make it impossible, politically and practically, to clamp own on the militants to the satisfaction of the Israelis. Specifically, they say Israel's assassination policy, incursions, home demolitions and the closure of the Palestinian territories deepen Palestinian anger and feed the popularity of groups prepared to attack Israel.

    With neither Israel, the PA, nor the armed Palestinian factions showing any sign of stepping back from the violence, the cycle looks set to intensify.

    Israel hits Palestinian installations: Suicide bomber
    wounds 22 in Tel Aviv
    . CNN
    White House debating Arafat strategy . CNN
    Motorbike bomber strikes Tel Aviv . CNN
    Bush 'disappointed' in Arafat . BBC News
    Analysis: The CIA and the arms ship . BBC News
    Israel kills two 'armed infiltrators' . BBC News
    Cycle of violence gains momentum . BBC News
    Israeli jets hit Palestinian targets . BBC News
  • Sporadic clashes between Israeli and Palestinian forces continue. Palestinian sources report Israeli tanks fire 6 shells toward Palestinian positions in Beit Hanoun. No casualties are reported.
  • Near the border between Gaza and Israel, IDF tanks fire 3 shells after identifying suspicious movement. IDF forces later conduct searches but find nothing.
  • Israeli military sources report an Israeli soldier shoots a Palestinian man in the leg after he tries to grab the soldier's knife at a checkpoint west of Ramallah in the West Bank. IDF sources report the 27-year-old man as being in stable condition when the Palestinian Red Crescent transports him to a hospital. But the Red Crescent says the man was dead at the scene, having lost too much blood before its ambulance arrived.
On the diplomatic front:
  • Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat renews his call for a cease-fire with Israel, urges militant groups to "maintain a comprehensive ceasefire and stop operations against Israel and the Israelis…These operations do not serve our national cause at all." But he also to resist increasing Israeli and U.S. pressure on the Palestinian Authority. Speaking from his headquarters in the West Bank, which Israeli forces have surrounded since last January 18, Arafat blames Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon for recent violence and insists he will not back down: "They could not shake us when they besieged us in Beirut...Now we're in Palestine—what hope has [Sharon] of shaking us?"

    The Palestinian Authority calls for the return to the region of US envoy Anthony Zinni, who has been trying to broker a halt to the violence.

    Arafat vows defiance but renews cease-fire call . CNN
    Arafat urges end to attacks . BBC News
  • In the center of west Jerusalem, an 81-year-old Israeli man, identified as Pinhas Tokatly, is killed and more than 110 people injured, many caught by flying glass, in a Palestinian bombing attack midday Sunday. It is the second attack in the same area in less than a week, the third attack on an Israeli city center within a week. A Palestinian woman suspected of detonating the bomb is killed at the scene. It is not clear whether she was a suicide bomber or she was planting a bomb that prematurely detonated. She is linked to the towns of Bethlehem and Nablus. The blast, which coincides with the beginning of the Israeli workweek, occurs near Jaffa and King George streets, a busy commercial strip where a Palestinian gunman went on a shooting spree last week, killing 2 women and injuring more than a dozen people. The Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades claim responsibility for the attack, saying it is in revenge for the January 14 killing of Fatah leader Raed al-Karmi and for the deaths of 4 Hamas activists killed Tuesday in an Israeli raid in the West Bank town of Nablus.
On the diplomatic front:
  • In anticipation of Israeli retaliation, Palestinian officials begin vacating buildings in the towns of Bethlehem and Nablus. They say prisoners, some from militant groups, are being kept under watch.
  • The Palestinian Authority condemns the attack, but says Israel's relentless security operations are inflaming an already tense situation.

    Israel blames Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat for the violence, saying that far from restraining the extremists, he is inciting further attacks, and point to a defiant speech by Arafat on Saturday in which he calls on all Palestinians to continue their struggle for statehood: "We're going to Jerusalem in our millions…God made me one of the Jerusalem martyrs."

    But Palestinian officials say the quote has been misinterpreted; that Arafat was not equating himself with suicide attacks, but simply meant in a general sense that he is a martyr to the Palestinian cause. Israel counters that such language is bound to rouse the passions of potential suicide bombers.

    In truth, the language on both sides is ever more belligerent.
  • Egypt and Jordan both condemn the bombing, but say Israel bears a responsibility for the continuing violence. They are the only two Arab states with peace treaties with Israel, and they have watched the escalating crisis across their border with growing concern.
  • Vice President Dick Cheney continues to exert US pressure on Arafat. On a Sunday TV show, he says he finds it "hard to believe" the Palestinian leader was not involved in the Karine-A arms smuggling incident: "The people that were involved were so close to him [Arafat] it's hard to believe that he wasn't involved."
  • Israeli and Palestinian media react predictably to US President Bush's statement that he is disappointed in Arafat. Israeli papers see the apparent shift in US policy is a triumph of Israeli diplomacy, while the Palestinian press sees it as more proof of US bias. But there is agreement across the board that the Palestinian leader's future is uncertain, and that the US shift is universally viewed as a victory for Israel's supporters in the US administration.

    Blast in Jerusalem kills 1 Israeli, injures 110 . CNN
    Woman bomber attacks Jerusalem . BBC News
    In pictures: Jerusalem blast . BBC News
    Media see bleak future for Arafat . BBC News
    Analysis: Mistrust deepens . BBC News
  • Near Tel Aviv early Monday, Israeli police shoot and kill a Palestinian man, after the man drives through an Israeli army checkpoint near Qalqilya and injures an Israeli soldier.
On the diplomatic front:
  • Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat dismisses a top security official, and issues arrest warrants for 2 others in connection with the Karine-A arms shipment intercepted by Israel earlier this month. After an investigation by a Palestinian committee, Arafat dismisses Brig. Gen. Fouad al-Shoubaki, who was in charge of military financial affairs, places him under formal arrest and moves him to a prison in Arafat's compound. Al-Shoubaki had been detained earlier by the Palestinian Authority. Arafat then replaces al-Shoubaki with Muhammad al-Batrawi. Arafat also issues arrest warrants for Col. Fathi al-Razem, deputy chief of the Palestinian naval police, and official Adel Awadallah. Both men are believed to be traveling outside Israel.
  • Palestinian officials have made clear they believe the only way forward out of the current cycle of violence and counter-attack would be for America to send back its envoy to the region as soon as possible. But US spokesman Ari Fleischer says the arrest is not enough: "There have been arrests made before, where just as soon as people were arrested, they were let out through the back door of the jail cell…The burden remains on Chairman Arafat to make continued concrete steps so there can be no question that Chairman Arafat is dedicated to eliminating terrorism in the region and the president has not yet seen such steps."
  • Saeb Erakat, the Palestinian chief negotiator, bristles at American accusations over the Karine-A arms shipment. According to Erakat, Arafat wrote Bush a letter January 19, inviting America to join the Palestinians in investigating the incident, but the US declined. Instead, he says, the Palestinians are accused of arms smuggling.

    Arafat fires official over arms ship . CNN
    Palestinian official held over arms ship . BBC News
  • Before dawn, Israeli forces arrest a senior Islamic Jihad activist and 2 other Palestinians suspected of terrorist activity in the West Bank village of Irthas, south of Bethlehem. Israel uses infantry, tank and engineering forces during the operation. The soldiers are fired upon a number of times but none are injured. Six Palestinians are wounded in exchanges of fire between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian gunmen. Israeli forces then leave the Palestinian-controlled area 3 hours later after the operation is completed.
  • In other developments, Jerusalem police report 6 houses and 2 cars are damaged Tuesday morning by Palestinian fire from the West Bank town of Beit Jalla on the Jewish neighborhood of Gilo on the outskirts of Jerusalem.
  • Palestinian sources report a 27-year-old woman from a refugee camp in the West Bank is responsible for Sunday's bomb blast in west Jerusalem. Sources identify the woman as Wafa Idrees, a resident of the Al-Amari refugee camp in Ramallah. Idrees is reported as being the first female suicide bomber in the campaign of violence being carried out by Palestinian militants within Israel.
On the diplomatic front:
  • General Shaul Mofaz, chief of staff of the Israeli army, condemns a petition signed by more than 50 reservist officers and soldiers who say they will refuse to serve in the occupied Palestinian territories. Mofaz tells senior officers that the matter is "very serious."An army spokesman says the signatories of the petition do not represent all the reservist officers and soldiers, who understood that their mission was to defend the state of Israel and protect its inhabitants.

    New Profile, a pacifist movement in Israel, reports that so far this year, 12 Israelis have been jailed for refusing military service in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Military service is compulsory in Israel, with 18-year-old men serving for three years and women for 21 months. Men are also required to serve in the reserves until the age of 49.
  • In Beirut, Arab interior ministers begin a meeting with a joint condemnation of Israeli "state terrorism" against the Palestinians. The 3-day meeting comes at a sensitive time, in the aftermath of the 11 September attacks on the United States. It will deal with security cooperation in fighting terrorism and crime, especially drug-trafficking. The Saudi Interior Minister, Prince Nayef, one of the delegates from 17 Arab countries, states that combating terrorism is a religious duty and a top priority. The ministers however make a point of distinguishing between terrorism and the Palestinian people's struggle for independence. Lebanese Interior Minister Elias Murr reads a statement from his president, Emile Lahoud, calling for a clear definition of "terrorism" in the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It asks how Middle East peace could be reached when "resisting the [Israeli] occupation with naked bodies is considered terrorism, while Israel's occupation and its [policy] of organized destruction is considered self defense." He says that for terrorism to be eradicated, it is necessary to "deal with its causes, and achieve true justice and equality between peoples and nations." The interior ministers' summit comes ahead of an Arab League summit, which is due to be held in Beirut at the end of March.

    Israel arrests three Palestinian terror suspects . CNN
    Suspected militants arrested in raid . BBC News
    Rounding up Palestinian militants . BBC News
    Arab ministers condemn Israel . BBC News
    Israeli army chief condemns soldiers' petition . BBC News
  • Early Wednesday in the town of Taibeh near the West Bank, during an operation involving Israel's Shin Beit, 2 members of the Israeli security service are wounded when a suicide bomber detonates an explosive device attached to himself, while near a security force vehicle. The Israeli agents had reportedly arranged to meet the bomber on the outskirts of the Israeli city of Taibe, close to the Palestinian-controlled West Bank town of Tulkarm. The Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades and Islamic Jihad claim responsibility for the attack, saying it was a joint operation by both groups, and claim the bomber had been an informer for Shin Bet before reverting to the Palestinian side. The suicide bomber is identified as Morad Abu Assal from the West Bank village of Anabta, near Nablus.
  • Overnight, Israeli forces arrest 6 Palestinians suspected of terrorist activities. The arrests take place in the villages of Abu Dis, near Jerusalem; Zaatra, near Bethlehem; and Awarta, near Nablus.
On the diplomatic front:
  • The Palestinian Authority (PA) closes down many Islamic charities and humanitarian groups in the Palestinian areas following pressure from Israel and the US. Most of the groups are closely affiliated to militant Islamic groups such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Israel alleges the humanitarian associations form the infrastructure and raise money for the armed wings of the militant groups. However, the closures cause increased hardship on Palestinian refugees in Gaza and the West Bank, many of whom depend upon Islamic associations for food and medicines. The closures deepen their anger and despair: "Now we have only Unwra (the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees). But what use are the coupons when you have six children. Every month we get a sack of wheat—that's all we get. I've cashed in my pension and spent it to get by."
  • Israeli Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer visits Sharm el-Sheikh to meet with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak at Mubarek's invitation. Egypt has expressed growing alarm at the escalating violence and given Israel, with whom it has a frigid peace treaty, an even colder shoulder than usual. Through his visit, Ben-Eliezer sends a message to Syria that if it drops its support for Hezbollah guerrillas, Israel would be willing to resume talks. (There have been no major talks between Israel and Syria since early in 2000.) Ben-Eliezer and Mubarak meet to seek ways to reduce the violence between Israelis and Palestinians in the hope the two sides can begin implementing a cease-fire proposal from CIA Director George Tenet and the Mitchell Committee report on a Middle East peace. Part of Ben-Eliezer's mission is to explain to Mubarak why Israel is keeping Arafat under virtual house arrest. He tells Mubarak that Israel needs to be convinced that the Palestinians want peace before negotiations with them can resume. Among other issues, the two reportedly discuss Israel's January 3 interception of the arms shipment on the Karine-A, although the substance of those discussions is not disclosed. Mubarak indicates that if relations between the Israelis and Palestinians improve, he would consider sending an Egyptian ambassador back to Israel. (More than a year ago, Egypt recalled its ambassador as a sign of displeasure over worsening relations between Israel and the Palestinians.) The two officials agree to continue exchanging views on resolving the conflict; Mubarak asks Ben-Eliezer to tell Sharon: "...we're working for peace...If there is a will there is a way."

    Mideast suicide attack injures two . CNN
    Israel willing to talk with Syria if it ends support for Hezbollah: New suicide bombing injures 2 . CNN
    Israel revives contacts with Egypt . BBC News
    Israel offers peace talks to Syria . BBC News
    Israel blast injures two . BBC News
    Profile: Israel's Shin Bet agency . BBC News
    Palestinians suffer as charities close . BBC News
    Militants shot dead in Gaza . BBC News
  • In the latest violence, Israeli troops shoot dead 2 Palestinian militants after they detonate a bomb on a road inside a Jewish settlement in the Gush Katif area of the Gaza Strip. The bomb explodes on the road to the settlement of Ganei Tal, next to a lorry carrying Thai workers to agricultural jobs in nearby settlements; none are injured. The Islamic militant group Hamas claims responsibility for the attack, adding: "This operation shows the fragility of the Zionist security."
  • There are also reports of a mortar attack on another Gush Katif settlement, in which an Israeli is said to have been injured.
  • Following the attacks, Israeli forces enter the nearby refugee camp of Khan Younis and detain 10 people.
On the diplomatic front:
  • At least 2,000 Palestinians attend a symbolic funeral for the first female suicide bomber to strike against Israel. Mourners march behind an empty wooden coffin through the Al Am'ari refugee camp in the West Bank in memory of 28-year-old Wafa Idris, who blew herself up in West Jerusalem Sunday, killing an 81-year-old Israeli man and injuring more than 100 people. The crowd chants "Wafa is a hero" as masked gunmen fire a salute into the air. The ceremony comes a day after the woman's mother said she was proud of her daughter and hoped more women would follow her example.
  • The conflict between the Palestinians and Israelis becomes increasingly personalized, as both sides' veteran leaders face each other down as they have for so many years.

    In an interview with the Israeli newspaper Maariv, Prime Minister Sharon says he is now sorry that Israel did not "liquidate" Palestinian leader Arafat 20 years ago when it invaded Beirut. The comments come as Arafat remains under virtual house arrest inside his headquarters in the West Bank town of Ramallah and as Israel debates cultivating an alternative Palestinian leadership. In his interview, Sharon also says the Palestinian leader could still be his negotiating partner if he arrests Palestinian militants Israel blames for organizing attacks against it. Israel says Arafat will remain isolated until he arrests those behind the killing of Tourism Minister Rehavam Ze'evi last October.

    Arafat—holed up in Ramallah, besieged by Israeli troops—also draws parallels, saying Sharon's efforts to destroy him back then only succeeded in the establishment of an embryonic Palestinian state a decade or so later. According to Arafat's reading of the event, the Israeli siege of Beirut was not a humiliating defeat for the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), which was finally forced to leave Lebanon and reconstitute itself in Tunis, but a heroic moment of resistance.
  • Sharon's comments draw criticism from Palestinian spokesman Saeb Erekat, who says Sharon is now trying to finish what he started in 1982: "For prime ministers to announce openly their gangster intention is a reflection of what kind of government we're dealing with."

    Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Pique, whose country currently holds the rotating EU presidency, also criticizes Sharon, saying: "If [the remarks] correspond to what Prime Minister Sharon has said, I must say that I deplore them and of course they deserve our rejection."

    The US is more hesitant in its criticism, with State Department spokesman Richard Boucher—when pressed by reporters—only acknowledging that such remarks "can be unhelpful."
  • During an appearance with Jordan's King Abdullah II, US Secretary of State Colin Powell says: "General Zinni is following the situation closely...When we believe the moment is appropriate and we have got things under a greater degree of control than we are now with regards to violence, we'll consider at that time whether to send General Zinni back."
  • France proposes new strategies to try to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The French foreign ministry says the proposals—which aim to counter what a foreign ministry spokesman describes as the absolutely stupid and deadly situation the Middle East finds itself in, where peace efforts are at the mercy of armed extremists—will be discussed on Thursday at a meeting in Washington of senior officials from the US, European Union, Russia and the UN. The French plan envisages three main stages towards a peace settlement. First would be the declaration of an independent Palestinian state, swiftly followed by general elections under international supervision—the idea being to give the Palestinians a newly mandated and more democratic leadership. Only then would final status negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians take place. The French have presented their ideas to other European countries, but have yet to receive firm backing. While it is unlikely Sharon will accept any plan that appears to compromise Israeli security, the French ideas are not dissimilar to those currently being discussed—with Sharon's sanction—by Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, and the Speaker of the Palestinian legislative council, Ahmed Qorei.

    Sharon regrets sparing Arafat . BBC News
    Arafat and the Beirut factor . BBC News
    Sharon condemned for Arafat remarks . BBC News
    Militants shot dead in Gaza . BBC News
    Symbolic funeral for female bomber . BBC News
    France pushes for Mid-East peace . BBC News

Timeline Sources: CNN, BBC News

Additional resources:
Israeli Government
Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Israel Defense Forces
Israel Broadcasting Authority

Palestinian National Authority
Office of the Palestinian Authority President
Palestinian Ministry of Information
Palestine Red Crescent Society
The Palestine News Agency Wafa

League of Arab States

U.S. Department of State
The White House
United Nations
United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East

Christian Aid

BBC News In-Depth: Israel and the Palestinians
Israel and the Palestinians Timeline: Ancient Times-2001 (BBC News)

Militant resistance group profiles:
Kach, Kahane Chai

Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade
Hamas, Islamic Jihad

Jamaat al-Islamiyya, Egyptian Islamic Jihad

Relevant documents:
The Tenet Plan
The Mitchell Report

Recommended reading:
The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: Crisis in the Middle East; Journalists of Reuters;
Reuters Prentice Hall, 2002
The Middle East: A Brief History of the Last 2,000 Years; Bernard Lewis;
Scribner, 1996
What Went Wrong: Western Impact and Middle Eastern Response; Bernard Lewis;
Oxford University Press, 2001
The Middle East; Bernard Lewis; Touchstone Books, 1997
The Arabs in History; Bernard Lewis; Oxford University Press; 6th edition, 1993
The Crisis of Islam: Holy War and Unholy Terror; Bernard Lewis; Modern Library, 2003

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