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dnice35

Arafet is playing games again.

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RAMALLAH, West Bank — A defiant Yasser Arafat dug in at his besieged compound Monday, rejecting Israel's demand to hand over the names of all those inside.

As Israeli troops settled in, criticism of the blockade -- the third in 10 months -- intensified in Israel. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is boosting Arafat's popularity, instead of sidelining him, the government's detractors said.

In another development, an Israeli man was killed and three of his children, ages 9, 12 and 18, were wounded in a Palestinian shooting attack in the West Bank city of Hebron. The 9-year-old was reported in serious condition.

The assault on Arafat's office has made an already tense situation even more volatile. With Arafat ringed by troops and confined to a building Palestinians claim is in danger of collapse, Israel cannot guarantee the Palestinian leader's safety. Harm to Arafat, even unintentional, could ignite the region.

Arafat's isolation has triggered street protests, some orchestrated and some spontaneous, in a replay of the scenes that marked the beginning of fighting two years ago.

On Monday, Palestinians observed a commercial strike and staged more protests, burning tires and pelting soldiers with rocks -- events rarely seen in recent months. About 10,000 rallied in Gaza, many schoolchildren bused in for the demonstration.

For the first time since Israeli tanks crashed into the compound on Thursday -- retaliating for a Palestinian suicide bombing in Tel Aviv that killed six bystanders -- Israeli and Palestinian officials met Monday to begin feeling their way to a solution of the latest crisis. No progress was reported.

AP

Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat

Israel is demanding that all the men in Arafat's office building surrender for questioning. Israel originally said 19 terror suspects were in the building, including Tawfik Tirawi, the Palestinian intelligence chief.

"Israel's stand is clear," Sharon said Monday. "Those terrorists must surrender to us. We will not compromise on this."

Israeli commentators said it was not immediately clear why the government is focusing on Tirawi, who half a year ago had participated in security talks with Israeli officials, including the Shin Bet security services chief.

During Israel's 34-day siege of Arafat's compound in April, Tirawi was with the Palestinian leader, but Israel did not ask for him to be handed over. Dore Gold, an Israeli government spokesman, said Israel subsequently uncovered information linking Tirawi to attacks on Israelis.

Arafat rejected the Israeli demand for a list of names of all the men in the compound, said Palestinian Cabinet Minister Saeb Erekat.

"We told them (the Israelis) that this is none of their business, and we called for an immediate and unconditional withdrawal from President Arafat's office, and an end to the siege," Erekat told The Associated Press.

Erekat said the building where Arafat is staying with about 200 aides and security officials is in danger of collapse.

FNC

It's the only one left intact after Israeli bulldozers and bombs flattened most of the others. On Monday, tanks maintained a tight siege. Israeli troops briefly planted an Israeli flag on the compound, but it was removed over the weekend.

Last week, Israel's Cabinet voted down a proposal, backed by Sharon, to expel Arafat. Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres is among those who oppose expulsion, but said Monday that Arafat is either incapable or unwilling to stop attacks on Israel. The Palestinian leadership should "prove its capability to rule, or it should appoint those who can rule," Peres told Israel TV.

Israel was considering expelling Hamas leaders Sheik Ahmed Yassin and Abdel Aziz Rantisi from the Gaza Strip, said an Israeli official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Sharon said Monday that Israel would mount a military operation against Hamas in Gaza "as soon as we have the necessary troops together."

Columnist Nahum Barnea wrote in the Yediot Ahronot daily that Sharon is leading his Cabinet to the "unavoidable decision" to expel Arafat.

Many commentators said they did not believe the alleged terror suspects were the real target of the siege.

Analysts wrote that it was yet another attempt by Sharon to marginalize Arafat, in hopes of creating a power vacuum that would encourage a new Palestinian leadership. Instead, they wrote, it had returned Arafat to center stage, turning him into a persecuted underdog just when his image was at an all-time low.

AP

Sunday: A Palestinian woman attends a protest march supporting Yasser Arafat in Gaza City.

"Sharon saved Arafat" was the headline in the influential Haaretz daily. Until Israel moved against him, wrote Mideast affairs analyst Danny Rubinstein, Arafat was besieged not by tanks, but critics at home. Earlier this month, he absorbed a stinging slap from the Palestinian parliament, which forced his Cabinet to resign,

"Now he has nothing to worry about. Not the reforms, not the new Cabinet he is supposed to present on Sept. 25, and nobody is bothering him with the demand to name a prime minister to share responsibility with him," Rubinstein wrote.

The shooting attack in Hebron was carried out as thousands of Israelis marched in the Palestinian city, under heavy army guard, to mark the Jewish holiday of Sukkot.

Shots were fired at a Jerusalem family as it walked to the city's disputed holy site, the burial cave of the biblical Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The father was killed and three sons were wounded, paramedics said.

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If Arafet would provide the names of the individuals in the compound, non of this would be happening. But I guess he must be cooped up in there with terrorist so he refuses to give a list of the names. Well I hope that building collapses on his senile ass.

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I am so sick and fucking tired of hearing about this problem. Both sides as quily and responsible for the horror over there. It is just one giant cluster-fuck of a situation that will never be resolved. I say just put Sharon and Arafat in a ring, charge $40 and air it on Pay-per view and let them hammer the living shit out of each other. Those two old senile fuckers are the problem. Neither of them cannot see past the hatred of the other, just sit down and iron this problem out for the good of the innocent Palestinians and Isrealis who are the ones really suffering.

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