History

Today In History: Israel launches attack on Arafat’s HQ

On 29 March 2002. Israel launched an attack on Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat. Speaking to reporters on the phone at the time, the now-late Arafat said he was under complete siege. “They have destroyed completely seven of our buildings,” he said. Arafat remained under siege until October 2004, when he was transferred to a medical hospital in France. He died a month later on 11 November 2004.

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This is an excerpt from https://www.theguardian.com/world/2002/mar/30/israel5

Israel launched a war to the finish against Yasser Arafat yesterday, smashing into his compound with tanks and bulldozers and strafing his offices with machine-gun fire, in a campaign of systematic destruction.
By nightfall, Israeli tanks careered around Mr Arafat’s helipad and parking lot in the West Bank city of Ramallah. Soldiers clambered through large craters into two buildings immediately adjacent to his official residence, storming into offices amid bursts of gunfire and stun grenades.

The Palestinian Authority, created eight years ago under the Oslo peace accords, was effectively dead. Mr Arafat, trapped in a basement room with his aides, declared that he would die before he surrendered.

“We are operating in the entire complex excluding the chairman’s actual office and residence, said Major General Yitzhak Eitan, who heads the Israel army’s central command.

He said at least 70 Palestinians had been captured from the compound, and that solders had occupied the headquarters of Palestinian intelligence, and a jail. Seven Palestinians were reported killed – including one of Mr Arafat’s security guards, and a woman was shot dead in her car as she tried to flee from a surrounding area. One Israeli soldier was killed.

Yesterday’s drastic assault was the first stage of what the Israeli prime minister, Ariel Sharon, said would be a “long and complicated war that knows no borders”.

Emerging from an eight-hour cabinet meeting, he said the Palestinian leader was now Israel’s avowed foe, and that he was ordering the call-up of 20,000 reservists for a final battle.

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