Wednesday, December 5, 2001, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Israel pounds West Bank, Gaza

MapJerusalem, December 4
Declaring the Palestinian Authority as a “terrorist supporting entity”, Israel today launched second wave of strikes in as many days with its helicopter gunships pounding Palestinian targets in West Bank and Gaza, including Yasser Arafat’s headquarters, in Ramallah but he escaped unhurt.

At least two persons were killed and some 120 injured, 60 of them students, in the strikes on eight Palestinian security buildings.

The Israeli army in a statement said warplanes and combat helicopters fired missiles at the headquarters of Arafat’s Force-17 Residential Guards in the Gaza Strip and its training camps in Gaza City.

Palestinian gunman
A Palestinian gunman kisses in Nablus on Tuesday the body of his comrade Amjad Tobasi who was killed earlier today during an exchange of fire as Israeli tanks entered the West Bank city. 
— Reuters photo

The strikes came hours after the Israeli Cabinet called Mr Arafat’s Palestinian Authority a “terrorist supporting entity” that must be dealt with.

Reacting angrily to the attacks, Mr Arafat accused Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon of trying to sabotage his efforts to deal with terrorism by launching the air strikes on Palestinian targets.

The Israeli Cabinet meeting which lasted for six hours this morning branded the Palestinian Authority as a “terrorist-supporting entity”. However, the Cabinet decision has caused fissures in Ariel Sharon’s coalition government. Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres is reportedly considering whether his Labour’s Party should continue in the government. Mr Peres criticised the Cabinet decision saying it had in effect decided to destroy the Palestinian Authority. AFP, PTIBack


Bush freezes assets of Hamas

US State Secretary Collin Powel gestures as he talks with Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres
US State Secretary Collin Powel (R) gestures as he talks with Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres on Tuesday during the 9th Ministerial Council of the OSCE at the Parliament Palace in Bucharest. Foreign Ministers from the 55-member countries met for two days in Bucharest to hammer out ways for joint action against terrorist threats. — Reuters photo

Washington, December 4
President George W. Bush today froze the assets of a US-based foundation suspected of helping the radical Palestinian group Hamas recruit and train suicide bombers to strike at Israel.

“The message is this: those who do business with terror will do no business with the USA— or anywhere else the USA can reach,” Mr Bush announced in the white house rose garden.

In addition to the Richardson, Texas-based Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, the freeze affects the Al Aqsa International Bank and the Beit El-Mal Holdings Company, both based in the Palestinian territories.

Federal agents raided foundation offices in Texas, California, New Jersey and Illinois and secured records kept by the group, which raised some $ 13 million last year as a registered tax-exempt charity, US officials said.

“Hamas has obtained much of the money that it pays for murder abroad right here in the USA,” charged Mr Bush.

“Money raised by the Holy Land Foundation is used by Hamas to support schools and indoctrinate children to grow up into suicide bombers. Money raised by the Holy Land Foundation is also used by Hamas to recruit suicide bombers and to support their families,” he said.

The company has denied all of the charges.

A US official said earlier that the President had planned to take such action for some time but accelerated the crackdown on alleged Hamas backers after the group claimed responsibility for weekend suicide attacks in Jerusalem and Haifa that killed some 31 and wounded more than 200.

Mr Bush, who had a hastily rescheduled meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon on Sunday, declared the action “another step in the war on terrorism. It’s not the final step.” AFPBack


Emergency Arab League meeting on Sunday

Amman, December 4
Jordan, acting head nation of the Arab League, has called for an emergency Arab ministerial meeting on Sunday in Cairo to discuss the latest Israeli military escalation in the Palestinian territories, Jordanian Foreign Minister Abdel Ilah Khatib said today.

Jordan is currently heading the Arab League summit, which has formed an Arab ministerial follow-up committee on the Palestinian issue which meets regularly at Arab League headquarters in Cairo or in another Arab capital. AFP


UN nod

United Nations, December 4
Ignoring Israeli pleas that it take into account the recent suicide attacks, the UN General Assembly adopted a series of resolution backing a Palestinian state, calling for the withdrawal of Israel from Golan Heights and demanding self-determination for the Palestinians. PTI


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