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Archive for Saturday, August 11, 2001

Israeli retaliation includes takeover of PLO headquarters

August 11, 2001

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— Masked Israeli riot police shut down the PLO headquarters in Jerusalem a symbol of Palestinian claims to the disputed city in a pre-dawn raid Friday, a day after an Islamic militant killed himself and 14 others in one of the deadliest bombings in 10 months of Mideast fighting.

The takeover of the Orient House was Israel's most direct challenge yet of Palestinian claims to traditionally Arab east Jerusalem as a future capital. Palestinians called the raid provocative and said it would trigger more bloodshed.

Most of the victims of the suicide attack at a Jerusalem pizzeria were buried Friday, including Judith Shoshana Greenbaum, a 31-year-old pregnant teacher from Passaic, N.J., who was studying in Israel, and five members of a family from the Jewish settlement of Talmon in the West Bank.

Senior Israeli Cabinet ministers met until early Friday to decide on a response to the bombing, carried out by a 23-year-old member of the Islamic militant group Hamas.

Shortly after the Cabinet meeting, two Israeli F-16 warplanes leveled the Palestinian police headquarters in the West Bank town of Ramallah and Israeli troops raided nine Palestinian Authority offices in the town of Abu Dis.

The main target, though, was the Orient House in Jerusalem.

About 2 a.m. Friday, helmeted Israeli riot police, some wearing black ski masks, climbed over the fence of the compound. Later, police Jeeps drove into the courtyard.

"We will take every necessary action to keep the PLO out of Jerusalem," Israeli Internal Security Minister Uzi Landau said. "Jerusalem is an Israeli city."

Several hours after the raid, club-wielding police, including some on horseback, clashed with dozens of demonstrators.

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