Tuesday, April 2, 2002

Early this morning, IDF helicopters, tanks attack the PSF West Bank headquarters in Beitunia, where some 200 PSF officers and staff have encamped since 3/30, setting the building ablaze. The CIA intervenes to secure the safe evacuation of the staff, surrender of 180 officers, but some refuse to leave. In Ramallah, the IDF continues house-to-house searches, stumbling upon 22 PSF officers hiding in an apartment, fatally shooting 2 though none resist arrest; raids, shuts Ramallah's al-Quds Educational TV, arresting 2 employees; revokes the credentials of 2 Abu Dhabi TV journalists, threatens legal action against CNN and NBC for broadcasting fr. Ramallah; confiscates 3 ambulances, detains 9 paramedics. PRCS suspends services in Ramallah, noting the IDF now has 15 medical workers in custody. This afternoon, the IDF lifts the Ramallah curfew for 3 hrs. so residents can buy food, bury those killed since 3/29 (bodies have been double-stacked in morgues, with no electricity). In Bethlehem, IDF troops order all men age 14-45 to surrender; fight their way to the doorway of the Church of the Nativity, where some 200 Palestinian gunmen, civilians have now sought refuge; fire on 20 journalists on the balcony of the Star Hotel, injuring 1; fire a warning shot at a clearly marked Reuters car. Palestinians also take refuge in Bethlehem's Omar Mosque, Santa Maria Church, the Russian Orthodox Church and hospice; the IDF surrounds those holy sites, occupies Bethlehem University as its main staging area. In Aida and Dahaysha, the IDF orders Palestinian women age 15-25, men age 14-45 to surrender. A Palestinian suicide bomber detonates a device at an IDF checkpoint into Jerusalem, killing only himself, causing no injuries. At least 7 Palestinians are killed today, including 2 motorists ambushed by settler vigilante group Tears of the Orphans and Martyrs (see 3/5) nr. Tulkarm, a mother and son shot by the IDF and allowed bleed to death, a woman shot dead by an IDF sniper as she left a Ramallah hospital (troops fire on medical workers attempting to retrieve her body). 3 Israelis injured in the 3/27 Netanya attack die, bringing the toll of the bombing to 23; 1 Israeli injured in the 3/31 Haifa attack dies, bringing that toll to 16. Israel expands its list of "wanted" Palestinians to include some of Arafat's top aides, including intelligence chief Tawfiq Tirawi, PSF 2d in command in Gaza Rashid Abu Shabak, Fatah tanzim leader Marwan Barghouti, but not PSF heads Dahlan or Rajub. (AP, HA, PRCS press release, NYT, WP, WT 4/2; MENA 4/2 in WNC 4/3; NYT, WP, WT 4/3; WP 4/4; QA 4/4 in WNC 4/5; MEI 4/5)

Sharon tells envoys of EU, Russia, UN they may meet with Arafat if they agree to escort him into exile. Peres proposes that Arafat "voluntarily" leave the territories asylum in foreign country. (AP, HA, MM 4/2; AFP 4/2 in WNC 4/3; NYT, WP 4/3)