Past News Archive
1) Free Palestine March Across Brooklyn Bridge
1) Flashpoints - Eyewitness Jenin account
1) Jenin refugee camp(from: Mohammed AlMbaid)
2) Israel attacks refugee camp with helicopters and planes(From: Dr. Ali Jabareen of the Jenin Hospital)
3) Israel Commits a Massacre(Palestine IMC)
4) Palestine Monitor's April 6 News Briefs
5) Solidarity demos around the World
6) Israeli Warplanes Attack Lebanon (Assoicated Press)
7) Aide: Israel Shells Arafat Compound, Injuring Four(Reuters)
8) Israel Expedites Military Operation(Assoicated Press)
Summary from Palestine IMC:
April 6 Jenin: Yesterday at Al Razi hospital in Jenin, doctors and medics watched on helplessly as 28-year-old Nidal Al Haj bled to death inside the hospital yard. The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) has attacked continuously throughout the night, the refugee camp and the city. Apache helicopters have attacked and seriously damaged around 50 houses in the western side of the camp, 20 people are reported injured, bleeding in the street. Reports from the inhabitants are that there are 15 dead bodies in different locations, but again ambulances came under attack when trying to gain access to these bodies; this time with ammunition from the helicopters.
The latest news from Jenin is that the IDF is systematically
bulldozing houses in the refugee camp, which is home to some 15,000 Palestinians
in an area of 1 kilometre squared.
1) Reports from Jennin Refugee Camp
From: Mohammed AlMbaid, MPA, PhD.
My dear friends,
The Israeli Occupation Army is committing a masscare in Jenin refugee camp, next to Jenin city in the Northern part of the West Bank. For the 4th day in a row, the Israeli occupation army is waging the harshest, most sustained and savagely attack using the apache gunships, tanks and other advanced weaponry to attack the residents of the refugee camp. There is no accurate statistics available, but according to eyewitness, there are at least 30 people killed in the camp during the last 12 hours, several houses were destroyed with its residents inside them using the tanks or gunships, and tens others injured left without treatment.
The Israeli army prevented ambulances from transporting the injured or providing them with basic treatment. To the contrary, in Jenin, as in all other Palestinian towns, the Israeli army insisted in leaving the injured bleeding to death without any respect to the international and human rights conventions in this regard.
Furthermore, the army attacked the two hospitals in the city of Jenin, destroying their operating rooms and oxygen pumping stations. Thus making the two hospitals of very little use. In addition, because of the very large number of dead bodies and the strict restrictions on the movement of people, the hospital was forced to burry around 10 people in the front yard, just like what happened in Ramallah last week.
The Israeli army is surrounding the refugee camp from all sides, isolating it from all its surroundings and cutting off the water, electricity and telephones. It is worth noting that Jenin camp is only one square kilometer housing around 15,000 people who were forced to leave their homes mostly in Haifa and Nazareth at the hands of the then Jewish militias.
Similarly, and for the 3rd day, the Israeli military is pounding the old city of Nablus in the northern part of the West Bank. The old city of Nablus is made of very narrow streets and roads which are not wide enough for the tanks to pass through. This is why, like in Jenin, the Israeli Army has been surrounding the old city from all its entrances and attacking it from the air using the apache gunships and tanks that are positioned in the hills surrounding the city.
As of 3 PM today, April 6, 2002, eyewitnesses from the besieged city reported that there are at least 15 people killed and tens others injured. Again, it is due to the very heavy and sustained attacks on the old city, it is impossible for any one to account for all missing people or to survey the people killed or injured.
The ambulances of the red cross and red crescent are also prevented from performing their duties and providing the necessary services for the injured people.
My parents and siblings who live in the outskirt of Nablus told me that the Israeli tanks which were stationed on the street adjacent to our house have almost demolished the house while going back and forth and shooting at Balata camp. My mother who is sick, was unable and not allowed to go to see the doctor due to the curfew and the heavy Israeli bombardment.
My sister in law, Maha, who is in her 9th month of pregnancy is expected to deliver a baby any time now. Maha, my brother and family are very afraid that Maha will have to deliver during this curfew especially they don't have any access to the hospital or a nurse to help Maha in the delivery.
My parents told me that the soldiers have been doing a door to door search for 'suspected terrorists' arresting people for no apparent reason expect that they 'have a beard' or they have pictures of Arafat or hanging some national symbols. This was what happened to my brother in law, who was arrested 2 days ago, simply because he was wearing a beard and was hanging a Palestinian flag in his room.
My dear friends,
Ariel Sharon, the Prime Minister of Israel and the butcher of Sabra and Shateela Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon is thirsty for more Palestinian blood. The world is watching. The heads of the Western civilization in American and Europe are watching this massacre being committed against the Palestinian people day and night. This massacre is being committed and its photos are being transmitted through television and the internet. There is no excuse that anyone does not know. Everyone knows about the Israeli massacres and atrocities committed against the Palestinians.
How long can this massacre last? How many more Palestinians have to be killed before the civilized world act?
Please do what you can to publicize these crimes agaist the innocent people of Palestine.
Mohammed AlMbaid, MPA, PhD.
Ramallah, West Bank
SOS calls from the Jenin Refugee camp! The camp, 1 km squared,
approximately 15,000 people is being attacked by air and land. Contacts in
Jenin City report heavy black smoke rising from inside the camp. Friends
inside the camp are reporting heavy bombardment by tanks and helicopter
gunships. Bulldozers have also been brought into the camp and are
demolishing homes to make way in the narrow streets of the camp for tanks
"We have no electricity and no water. Our water tanks have been destroyed
from the intensity of the Israeli bombardment. Our wives are crying and our
kids are screaming. There's no television to distract them. All they are
hearing is the explosions all around them. Where is the conscience of the
world when we are being massacred and no one is intervening to stop it?" -
Jamal Abu Al-Haije, resident of Jenin Camp
Dr. Ali Jabareen of the Jenin Hospital reports that they need
the injured and dead. People are being left to bleed in the streets and
other people are being buried under the rubble of their homes. No idea how
many people are dead. The hospital ambulances are not being allowed to
move. UNRWA and the International Committee of the Red Cross are not able
to function. Is there anyone to help? To contact Dr. Ali Jabareen, please
In the bloodiest day yet of Israel's war on Palestine, Israeli occupation forces murdered at least thirty-four Palestinians, including one child.
In Jenin, A Massacre Unfolds:
The fiercest fighting took place in this small northern West Bank town. Israeli occupation forces used tanks and Apache helicopter gunships to wreak havoc on Jenin's refugee camp in an as of yet futile attempt to enter and occupy it. The refugee camp, which does not exceed 1 square kilometer in area is densely populated and has been the source of unwavering resistance to this and earlier Israeli military assaults.
After occupying the entire city, Israeli occupation forces raided and occupied Mr. Walid Abu Mueis's home. Mr. Abu Mueis, Jenin's Mayor, was inside his home at the time of the raid. Eyewitnesses confirm that a number of tanks surrounded the house before Israeli occupation forces entered it on foot. All contacts have been lost with Jenin's Mayor since then.
While targeting Jenin's Mayor was not unprecedented, it added to the already present Palestinian conviction that the ongoing Israeli military assault is aimed at destroying the very infrastructure of the Palestine National Authority and attacking every symbol of Palestinian sovereignty.
Since it began its offensive against Jenin, Israeli occupation forces have killed at least twenty Palestinians, thirteen of whom died in the past twenty-four hours. The number is not yet comprehensive as medical crews have been virtually paralyzed by the incessant Israeli shelling. Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) officials confirm the presence of a horrifically large number of injuries in Jenin, especially in the refugee camp. The same officials also express deep sorrow that they have been unable to carry out their duties due to the intensity of the shelling as well as the explicit Israeli prohibition to do so.
Jenin's Public Hospital was shelled today, after it had already sustained great damage yesterday. Medical sources in the city's Al-Razi hospital also confirm that the Israeli shelling targeted their water storage facility as well as the hospital's upper floor.
Earlier, nurses in Al-Razi hospital were forced to raise white flags as they tried to rescue an injured civilian, lying on the hospital's entrance. The nurses were immediately fired on and had to retrieve. According to Dr. Ziad Al-I'sa, the hospital Director confirmed that after two hours of pleading with the soldiers, the nurses were able to reach the injured civilian, who has yet to be identified, but he had passed away already. "The man was calling out for help, saying 'for the love of God! Somebody help me' and none of us were able to reah him. It was devastating. By the time they allowed us to reach him, it was too late", Dr. I'sa described.
Meanwhile in Jenin's battered refugee camp, Israeli occupation forces shelled the Al Sa'ed mosque, which has also been used as a make-shift emergency clinic. Eyewitnesses in the camp confirm that the mosque was burnt as a result of the shelling and an undetermined number of casualties and injuries remain in the area. Despite this desperate situation, the Israeli officer in command of the operation in Jenin vowed to literally shell any ambulance attempting to reach the refugee camp in order to rescue those who have been injured.
To further add to the suffering of the civilian population, Israeli occupation forces cut off the water supply to the entire city, its refugee camp, and the western villages. The soldiers forced Mr. Mohamed Nazzal, the employee in charge of the water reservoir feeding the city's demand, under the threat of gunpoint, to cut off the pump supplying the water. Mr. Nazzal and the guard were then chased by the Israeli forces to their homes.
Only two of Jenin's victims' names are thus far available; 22 year-old Ahmad Abu Al-Haija and 24 year-old Lu'ai Jalamaneh.
The Old City of Nablus: Three Thousand Years of History Shelled and Destroyed:
The assault on Nablus began late Wednesday night, using tank shells and helicopter missiles and high-caliber machineguns to pound the Old City, which remains the toughest target in Nablus' reoccupation battle. During the indiscriminate shelling, 50 year old Sadiqa Ali was killed inside her home while her 53 year-old sister Latifa was seriously wounded when a tank shell slammed directly into their home. Thirty-five Ra'ed Freitekh was also injured in the abdomen by a high caliber bullet because of the indiscriminate Israeli shooting rampage inside the city.
The invading forces also promptly demolished the family homes of Shadi Al-Ttoubasi and nasser Jarad, shortly after the invasion. Israeli occupation forces also demolished an apartment building next to the Al-Najah mosque, where Nablus' Police chief, Col. Firas Al-Amleh, resides. In the streets of the Old City that occupation forces have effectively reoccupied, Israeli soldiers burned a number of cars parked in the area.
Currently, the number of confirmed Palestinian casualties in Nablus stands at least twelve, most of whom are civilians. The number is likely to rise however, as medical crews are unable to reach the homes where injuries have been reported. Medical sources have only been able to confirm that out of the twelve casualties received, six were killed inside the Old City and four in the Balatta refugee camp. In addition, witnesses confirm citing bodies strewn on the streets but are unable to retrieve or identify them due to the heavy shelling. Among the identified casulaties are 30 year-old Ra'ed Fattouh, 30 year-old Nasser Kharma, and 27 year-old Maher Omaira from the Balatta refugee camp. Four other civilians were killed and six were seriously injured in the Askar refugee camp after Israeli tanks shelled the victims as they were standing near a house.
The city's renowned Najah (Success) University, known for its computer science study programs, was occupied by the invading forces and turned into a military camp. The mayor's house was no exception. Mr. Ghassan Abu Sharif, also member of the Palestine Liberation organization's Executive Committee, was subject to Israeli harassment. The forces occupied his home and detained his sons. The City's Governor was not spared either. Mr. Mahmoud Al-Aloul, whose son was killed in October 2001, was in his home when Israeli occupation forces surrounded and raided it, confiscating some of his private office's files.
In the town of Ttoubas, Israeli occupation forces committed a particularly grisly assassination against six Hamas activists. The activists, who were in hiding, were surrounded and shelled while seeking refuge inside a house, although Israeli occupation forces called on them to surrender. After four of the victims were killed because of the heavy shelling, the remaining two activists came out of the house carrying white flags, intending to surrender themselves. Instead, Israeli soldiers opened fire and killed them without hesitation.
In the early morning hours, tens of Israeli tanks and armored personnel carriers reoccupied the town, which lies east of Jenin, with heavy air cover. The indiscriminate Israeli shelling killed 13 yearold Dunia Sawafta and her 22 year-old cousin Iyad.
The reoccupied city of Tulkarem continued to be under curfew while Israeli occupation soldiers proceed with their house-to-house search and arrest campaign. A number of civilians were detained while other reported being beaten and insulted during the house search.
Tulkarem's Governor, Mr. Izz Al-Din Al-Sharif, was also subject to the humiliating and often destructive house search campaign. His home and personal office have also been searched during a house raid.
During the afternoon hours, Israeli occupation forces lifted the curfew for two hours although it strictly prohibited the use of cars. Consequently, many residents were unable to even reach a store or pharmacy that was open to get what they needed of the fast dwindling food and medical supplies.
In nearby Salfit, Israeli occupation forces detained at least twelve civilians and two National Security officers after raiding their homes.
Bethlehem: The City of Peace Has it Not Anymore:
After an Israeli sniper murdered 45-year old Samir Salman yesterday, the Church of nativity's bell ringer, Israeli forces continue to shell and surround Jesus' birth grotto. "He was a simple guy. He never harmed any person", described Anton Salman, a relative who is also inside the besieged church.
At least 300 Palestinians are inside the Church of Nativity, surrounded and shelled by the Israeli occupation forces since the reoccupation of Bethlehem three days ago. While the Latin Church in Jerusalem confirms that approximately 150 of them are Palestinian resistance fighters, it also confirms that they are unarmed and had sought refuge from certain death inside the church.
In a phone conversation with the Palestine Media Center, Father Raed Abu Sahlieh of the Latin Church stated, "We do not deny that some resistance fighters have sought refuge in the Church of Nativity. However, as Patriarch Michel Sabah has repeatedly stated, they are now in the protection of the Church and we hold Israel totally responsible for what could happen to them or to the civilians with them. The Church has declared that it shall not surrender any of these men and we warn Israel of storming into the church". Father Sahlieh, who expressed disappointment at some media reports that distorted the story into one that makes the civilians inside the Church seem as hostages, emphasized, "These men were welcomed by the Church and they are not holding anyone hostage. In fact, the priests and nuns inside the basilica are sharing the little they have of food and water with them. The Patriarch has instructed all churches in Bethlehem to hang olive branches on the doors and a sign that states; 'Soldiers and tanks are not allowed to enter'. We consider the churches and monasteries as sacrosanct places and anyone inside them is under the protection of the church".
News reports from the church confirm that the last meal available to those in the Church of nativity was yesterday's lunch. Israeli occupation forces continue to adamantly deny the Red Cross or any other party access to the Holy place.
Meanwhile, Israeli occupation forces lifted the curfew imposed on Bethlehem and its surrounding towns for three hours, although this did not include Bethlehem's Old City and the areas surrounding the Church of Nativity. Nonetheless, Israeli occupation soldiers and snipers injured a number of civilians who gathered the courage to leave their homes during these two hours. Among the injured was a French journalist, who was shot in the leg. Israeli forces also occupied a number of homes and turned them into military outposts and sniper positions.
Also today, Ms. Ahlam Shakarneh, a dialysis patient from Bethlehem's town of Nahalin, died after Israeli occupation forces prohibited an ambulance to transport her to the hospital, where she would have received life-saving treatment. In the same village, a woman reportedly gave birth to a still baby after she was unable to reach a nearby hospital; her name was not made available.
House searches and detentions continued in Bethlehem meanwhile, with Israeli occupation forces detaining fourteen National Forces officers in the city.
Medical sources in Qalqilia confirm that 23 year-old Mohamed Al-Abidi was killed late last night. Medical examination confirm that his body received approximately 200 bullets, after which his body was detained for hours only to be released later on today. It remains unclear how the victim, who was a National Forces officer ans is originally from the Gaza Strip, was killed in such a manner, especially that no confrontations were reported where he was murdered. Ramallah, the Besieged Temporary Capital:A family's tragedy in Ramallah today transcended all of Israel's roadblocks and military orders to reach Tulkarem at the northern tip of the West Bank. Twenty-five year-old Suha Abdel Karim, a Tulkarem native and Ramallah patient, died of lung cancer today in the City's beleaguered public hospital. Her family members, accompanying her through treatment in Ramallah, tried to transport her to Tulkarem in order to be buried in her hometown. However, after Israeli occupation forces lifted the eight-day long curfew on Ramallah for two hours, during which her family reached the Qalandia military checkpoint, Israeli occupation forces denied them and the body access through the checkpoint. After being threatened at gunpoint, Suha's family were left with no choice but to bury her in the Qalandia area, approximately three hundred meters away from the checkpoint at which they were turned back. "The Israeli occupation's measures are leading us to have babies see the light at the checkpoints, others die, and now some even get buried near them", commented Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi, director of the Medical relief Committee. The city's residents had two hours to go out in the sun today, although prisoners usually get that each day. Taking careful steps and making sure to walk in groups, Ramallah's residents took to the streets to buy the food and medicine they needed, praying that Israeli snipers were not out hunting.Empty bullet cases covered Ramallah's streets while devastation was evident everywhere. Light poles bent and leveled to the ground, traffic lights laying on the floor, and store owners overwhelmed by their colossal damages. While some stores were able to open their doors and provide families with much needed food and medicine, most had been completely ransacked and destroyed by the occupying forces, who watched nervously, with guns pointed at the shopping civilians, throughout the two hours. Gunshots are heard intermittently in Ramallah while house-to-house searches and detentions continue unabated. During the late night hours, loud explosions were heard around the besieged presidential compound although no one could confirm any details. Israeli occupation forces had cut off the electricity supply to the compound again tonight.
The humanitarian crisis intentionally created by Israel continues to worsen in the West Bank.
In Nablus, currently under fire, Medical Relief has set up six field hospitals; the situation in two of them is dire. One of them, a mosque in the old city, reports 50 people injured, three of those in critical condition, 15 in serious condition. Doctors in the mosque have to operate with minimal equipment, five corpses in the room in which they operate. Israeli snipers on the roofs of the surrounding buildings shoot at any one trying to get to or from the mosque. Apache helicopters regularly attack the region; missiles have already destroyed several houses belonging to the Al-Usta family in the old city. It is reported that there are three people lying wounded in the near by streets, but no one is able to bring them to the mosque - the ambulances are prevented from moving. Also in the old city three health workers report they were taken by Israeli soldiers and used as human shields as the soldiers went from house to house searching.
The same situation is true for the field hospital in the Askar refugee camp. Israeli apache helicopters have shot missiles leaving seven people injured, two of them critically. Four bodies are known to be in the streets, but an ambulance given permission from the Israeli military to collect them came under fire, and had the tyres shot out. At the time of writing, soldiers were still shooting at the ambulance, but UPMRC lost contact with them.
Our sources in Jenin report the same dreadful humanitarian situation.
The Israeli army has attacked continuously throughout the night, the refugee
camp and the city. Apache helicopters have attacked and seriously damaged
around 50 houses in the western side of the camp, 20 people are reported injured,
bleeding in the street.
Reports from the inhabitants are that there are 15 dead bodies in different locations, but again ambulances came under attack when trying to gain access to these bodies - this time with ammunition from the helicopters.
Yesterday at Al Razi hospital in Jenin, doctors and medics watched on helplessly as 28-year-old Nidal Al Haj bled to death inside the hospital yard. Dr. Ali Jabareen from the hospital explained how "the medics waited for a long time, but they could get to him because of the shelling". Not so dramatic, but still life threatening, pregnant women, patients needing kidney dialysis, heart attack victims, and diabetic patients also are prevented from reaching medical treatment on which their lives depend. Hospitals report a shortage of oxygen and other medical supplies.
The latest news from Jenin is that the Israel army is systematically bulldozing houses in the refugee camp, which is home to some 15,000 Palestinians in an area of one kilometre squared. This is happening at the same time they are dropping tear gas from helicopters on the camp. For two days the camp has resisted the Israeli invasion so now the nature of the invasion has changed - BULLDOZING HOMES WITH THE INHABITANTS INSIDE.
Yatta near Hebron also came under sustained Israeli attack from 3AM this morning. Dozens of tanks surrounded the town and opened fire on the inhabitants. The hospital reported two Palestinians were killed while in their homes - Jamal Hamad Karaysh, 22, live ammunition to his head, and Nader Jamil Al Khadder, 21, live ammunition to his chest. The hospital buried them in the cemetery, immediately and without a funeral, as they were afraid that after the Israeli army completely invades the town a health crisis could erupt - similar to the crisis in the other West Bank towns where bodies sit in hospitals and homes decomposing, as they cannot be buried.
Dr. Mustafa Barghouti, under siege in Ramallah, comments on the Israeli onslaught, saying, "this total humanitarian disaster has been intentionally created by the Israeli army. Now in Jenin and Nablus, the Israeli army is doing the same they have done in the other West Bank towns, preventing access of medical services to injured and sick people. This is systematic and planned. The Israeli commanders claim that it is safe for a vehicle to move, or that it is safe for ambulances and humanitarian workers, but the soldiers on the street then blatantly open fire on our ambulances. They are creating this humanitarian disaster - are using it as an instrument of political control."
The UPMRC [http://www.upmrc.org
Union of Palestine Medical Relief Committee] issued a statement yesterday
warning against epidemics, caused by decomposing bodies trapped in homes and
several health facilities.
AP; AFP; BBC. 6 April 2002. Thousands March in Paris, Rome to Support Palestinians Amid Offensive by Israel; Tens of thousands denounce Israeli offensive worldwide; Hundreds Rally Across [US] Nation to Protest Israeli Military Action; etc.
PARIS and NEW YORK -- Tens of thousands of activists marched through Paris and Rome on Saturday in protests demanding Israel stop its offensive in the West Bank and expressing solidarity with the Palestinians.
More than 20,000 people marched in the French capital to the Place de la Bastille, where hundreds of police stood by. Some protesters carried shredded American flags and shouted slogans against Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.
"Sharon Assassin" and "Arabs, Jews together against Sharon," they chanted in the protest, organized by dozens of pro-Palestinian, anti-racist and Communist groups.
Anna, a philosophy student in Paris, was worried that Israel would "take the same liberties with the Palestinians as the United States did in Afghanistan."
One demonstrator, wrapped in a Palestinian flag, was carried on a stretcher through Parisian streets, similar to a ceremonial burial of Palestinians who have died as "martyrs" battling Israel.
In Rome, about 20,000 protesters marched through downtown, ending up at a rally in Piazza del Popolo, where the crowd swelled to about 50,000 people.
A few marchers at the front of Saturday's procession wore black face masks and bandanas like those worn by Palestinian militants. Others carried banners calling for "Intifada until victory," and chanted for a "Liberated Palestine."
In Chile, 2,000 people gathered to demand Israeli withdrawal from the Palestinian territories, as Latin American governments expressed concern over their citizens living in the Middle East.
A protest in Bern, Switzerland, drew about 9,000 people. "We can't keep quiet much longer," a statement from organisers of a pro-Palestinian rally in the Swiss capital Bern said. Around 9,000 people were at the gathering, called by the Swiss Socialist and Green parties.
1,000 people have marched through the centre of Edinburgh to show solidarity with the Palestinians.
Mick Napier, of the Palestine Solidarity campaign, said: "The
Palestinians are the longest standing unresolved injustice of the
century. They were ethnically cleansed , they are being slow motion ethnically cleansed by Ariel Sharon and Britain continues to send machine parts to keep the weapons of assassination and ethnic cleansing flying."
Earlier, in Sydney, Australia, some 5,000 activists marched, shouting "Free Palestine" and waving flags and placards, to the Israeli and U.S. consulates.
Calling Israel's offensive in the West Bank tantamount to the exploits of Nazi Germany, hundreds of people around the [US] nation marched in protest Saturday, demanding the United States intervene in the escalating crisis.
In New York, hundreds of people walked across the Brooklyn Bridge toward City Hall carrying signs that read "Sharon Hitler." Police vans and hundreds of officers shadowed protesters, though no arrests were reported.
Meanwhile, in a predominantly Jewish neighborhood of Miami Beach, Fla., about 250 protesters staged a rally at the city's Holocaust Memorial on Saturday, calling the Israeli treatment of Palestinians a present-day holocaust.
Mahmoud Eltalla, 42, a gas station owner who was born in the Gaza Strip, held a sign replacing the first letter in Israel with a swastika.
"They're killing children, women, they're killing everybody,"
he said. "What the Nazis did to them, they're doing to us right now."
KFAR CHOUBA, Lebanon (AP) - Israeli forces launched artillery and air attacks on areas in southern Lebanon on Saturday in response to the shelling of a village in the Golan Heights, security officials said.
Armed men drove in a car close to the Lebanese border and fired five mortar rounds on an Israeli post near the village of Ghajar in the Golan, then fled. Police were looking for the attackers, the officials said.
It was not clear if militant Hezbollah guerrillas were behind the attack but the group is known to be active in the area.
In Ghajar, an anti-tank shell hit a home, injuring three children aged 3, 6 and 15, the Israeli ambulance service said. The 3-year-old boy was seriously injured. Hezbollah opened fire on one of the ambulances as the wounded were being evacuated, ambulance officials and the Israeli army spokesman said.
Ghajar lies partly in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights and partly in Lebanon. Israel captured the Golan from Syria in the 1967 Mideast war. The residents claim to be Syrian citizens.
Lebanese security officials said Israeli warplanes launched three air raids on the hills of Kfar Chouba, one mile northeast of Ghajar, near the disputed Chebaa Farms area. The officials said on condition of anonymity the Israelis fired artillery shells close to Ghajar and Kfar Chouba.
In nearby Chebaa, 1 1/2 miles northeast of Ghajar, witnesses said at least one Lebanese person was wounded when Israeli artillery shells hit a car.
Lebanon's Hezbollah guerillas said in a statement they fired machine guns and rockets at Israeli positions in Chebaa Farms following the Israeli military reprisals.
Hezbollah has launched several attacks on Israeli positions in Chebaa Farms this week, raising fears of a new front opening up in the worsening Mideast conflict.
Saturday's clashes came hours after U.N. peacekeepers found two ready-to-fire Katyusha rockets near the border with Israel, spokesman Timor Goksel for the U.N. force in south Lebanon said.
Fijian soldiers found the rockets in a bush near the normally quiet village of Beit Lif, some two miles north of the Israeli border. The troops gave the Katyushas to Lebanese authorities.
The finds followed heavy fighting Friday in the Chebaa Farms area, in which Hezbollah militants fired mortars and machine guns at Israeli troops on the Golan. Israel responded with airstrikes and artillery guns.
The Lebanese government opposes any attacks across its southern border except for the area of Chebaa Farms, which Lebanon claims as its territory.
This week, Lebanese authorities arrested nine Palestinian militants in possession of a rocket and rocket detonators in what appeared to be an attempt to stave off cross-border attacks that could provoke Israeli retaliation.
Lebanon's Defense Minister Khalil Hrawi said Friday that the government's stance is ``to prevent the launching of military acts across the Blue (border) Line that was recognized by Lebanon but to preserve the right of resistance against the enemy's army to liberate occupied land.''
Beit Lif, the site of Saturday's rocket finds, is 25 miles southwest of Chebaa Farms.
Lebanon and Syria say Chebaa Farms is Lebanese while the United Nations says it belongs to Syria.
RAMALLAH, West Bank (April 6) - A senior aide to Yasser Arafat said Israeli forces shelled the Palestinian leader's besieged West Bank headquarters on Saturday, wounding four presidential bodyguards.
The army, which has trapped Arafat in his Ramallah offices, said it had exchanged fire with Palestinian gunmen who shot at soldiers from inside the compound. It declined to say whether its tanks had fired shells.
The aide, Nabil Abu Rdainah, told Reuters by telephone from inside the compound that "shells landed inside the Palestinian cabinet meeting room," close to where Arafat has been staying along with some 100 Palestinians and foreign peace activists.
He said Arafat was unharmed but four of the president's personal bodyguards were hurt, one of them seriously.
A senior Palestinian medical source said a Palestinian ambulance picked up the seriously wounded man but was then stopped by soldiers who removed him and took him away in an armored personnel carrier. The army had no immediate comment.
Israel has said it has no intention of harming Arafat, who had been confined to his offices since Israeli tanks rolled into the city on March 29 and smashed their way into his compound.
The official Palestinian news agency WAFA quoted people inside the compound as saying the Saturday bombardment was the heaviest since the siege began, and said shelling was directed at all three stories of the building, some landing a few yards from Arafat's own office.
A Palestinian woman living near the headquarters said she saw Israeli soldiers enter the compound and heard explosions and heavy machinegun fire.
Asked about the Palestinians' accounts of the incident, an Israeli army spokesman said: "Palestinians opened fire at Israeli forces from inside the compound but not from his offices. There were exchanges of fire between the people inside who were shooting and soldiers."
Palestinian officials earlier said power to the compound had been cut off, but an Israeli army spokesman said electricity and phone lines to Arafat's offices were still working and an ambulance had been allowed in to deliver medication.
Israel says the large-scale incursion, which began two days after a suicide bombing at an Israeli seaside hotel, is intended to root out suicide bombers. Palestinians say the offensive is aimed at destroying the Palestinian Authority.
NABLUS, West Bank (AP) - Israeli soldiers faced the toughest resistance yet in their West Bank offensive, trading round-the-clock fire with Palestinian gunmen Saturday in Nablus and Jenin. Without giving a time frame, Israel's leader told President Bush he would expedite the nine-day offensive.
Israeli soldiers were again unable to take full control of the two cities for a third straight day of fighting.
The Israeli troops faced resistance from gunmen firing from apartments and homes along narrow streets and alleyways. They have taken only parts of the two cities and have not entered the nearby refugee camps, which are strongholds for the militants. One Palestinian fighter said bombs and weapons were being passed out to residents to defend the camps.
Bush repeated his call for Israel to ``withdraw without delay'' from towns it has occupied since launching its offensive to crush Palestinian militias after a string of suicide attacks. Speaking alongside British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Bush also demanded the Palestinians call ``an immediate and effective cease-fire.''
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon spoke with Bush by phone Saturday and told him that Israel will expedite its offensive. In a brief statement, Sharon's office said he told Bush that Israel ``is conscious of the American desire to see the operation end quickly.''
Sharon's statement, however, did not say when they would withdraw troops in the operation launched March 29. He said Israel is operating in difficult conditions in areas where ``there are a great deal of weapons, explosives and armed terrorists.'' Sharon stressed that Israel is making every effort to avoid civilian casualties and that this caution is making the operation last longer.
Bush is dispatching Secretary of State Colin Powell to the region Sunday, but the mission already faced one potential problem: The Palestinians said Saturday they won't talk to Powell unless he meets with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.
Meanwhile, Israeli troops and Palestinian security forces had a brief but intense exchange of fire Saturday night at Arafat's besieged compound in Ramallah.
Nabil Aburdeneh, an Arafat spokesman in the compound, said Israeli troops made moves to enter Arafat's office, prompting the Palestinian guards in an adjacent building to open fire. The Israelis shot back at the security guards, wounding four, one of them seriously, he said. No one in Arafat's office was hurt, he added.
The Israeli army said it came under fire from the building next to Arafat's office and returned fire with weapons that included an anti-tank missile.
A Palestinian ambulance picked up the Palestinian security guard who was seriously hurt, but Israeli troops forced rescue workers to hand him over. The unidentified guard, who was wanted by Israel, was taken to an Israeli hospital for treatment, the army said.
Overall, 17 Palestinians and one Israeli soldier were killed Saturday, with most of the deaths in Nablus and Jenin, which are 15 miles apart in the northern part of the West Bank.
Early Sunday, Israeli troops - some flown in by helicopters - began taking up positions around several small villages near Ramallah. Two of the villages, Beit Rima and Koubar, have been targets of past raids to round up militants.
The fighting in Nablus and Jenin was in sharp contrast to that in other parts of the West Bank since Israel launched its invasion last month, after a series of suicide bombing attacks that killed scores of Israelis. In most areas, Israeli tanks and armored personnel carriers faced very limited resistance and quickly took charge of the streets, with Palestinian residents remaining inside and under curfew. Still, the nine-day-old incursion has left at least 74 Palestinians and 10 Israeli soldiers dead.
In Jenin, Israeli troops on the edge of the city's refugee camp have been battling gunmen round the clock. The Israeli forces have entered some city neighborhoods, but are facing resistance in the eastern part of the city, residents said.
Jamal Abu al-Haija, a leader of the militant Hamas movement in Jenin, said militant factions had banded and were distributing weapons - including explosive belts like those used by suicide bombers - to residents of the nearby refugee camp. ``All the factions have distributed explosive belts and hand grenades to the people of the camp to defend themselves,'' he said by telephone.
A Palestinian woman in Jenin camp, Ilham Dosuki, blew herself up early Saturday when soldiers approached the door to her home, according to al-Haija, who said the bombing caused casualties among the soldiers.
The Israeli military reported a somewhat similar event, saying troops fired on a Palestinian wearing explosives. The gunfire caused a blast that killed the attacker, whom they identified as a man. No soldiers were hurt, the army said.
In Nablus, the Israeli forces have been sending in helicopters that fire machine guns or rockets in an attempt to dislodge the gunmen. The Israelis have taken over many parts of Nablus, but have only edged into Nablus' Old City, where they have encountered heavy shooting. The Israelis have surrounded the Balata refugee camp on the outskirts of Nablus and waged fierce firefights, but have not gone into the camp, Palestinian witnesses said.
Nablus and Jenin both have large numbers of militants, and many of the Palestinian suicide bombers have come from these two cities, Israel says. The narrow streets make it impossible to enter parts of the two cities and too dangerous for ground troops to enter on foot.
Facing growing international calls to end its incursion, Israel says it won't pull out until it feels it has substantially dismantled the Palestinians' ability to carry out suicide bombings and other attacks.
``I believe it will last until we finish it,'' said Maj. Gen. Dan Halutz, head of the Israeli air force, adding that top military officials have spoken of a four-week operation. ``The length of the operation is not a military decision, it's a military request, but a government decision.''
In Bethlehem, a standoff dragged on for a fifth day between Israeli forces and scores of Palestinian gunmen holed up in the Church of the Nativity, which marks the site where tradition says Jesus was born.
Five people left the church Saturday and were taken away by Israeli soldiers in an armored personnel carrier. They included two Greek Orthodox priests, a nun and an elderly woman and her daughter, according to Lt. Col. Olivier Rafowicz, an Israeli army spokesman.
An estimated 200 Palestinian gunmen entered the church Tuesday to escape Israeli troops closing in on them.
The Israeli-Palestinian fighting has been largely confined to the West Bank in recent days, but violence also erupted Saturday in the Gaza Strip.
Two Palestinian militants and one Israeli soldier were killed when the Palestinians attacked a heavily fortified Israeli settlement in the Gaza Strip early Saturday with guns and grenades, according to Israeli army officials. The militant group Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the attack, which also wounded four Israeli soldiers.
Also, four Palestinian civilians, including girls aged 5 and 12, were killed by Israeli army fire in Rafah, a town at the southern end of the Gaza Strip, according to Palestinian witnesses and doctors. The Israeli army said there was an exchange of fire in the area, but had no information on casualties.