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Israeli helicopters strike Fatah headquarters
JERUSALEM -- Israeli helicopters attacked three Fatah headquarters with missiles Thursday, one day after the Palestinian movement called for an uprising against Israel.
The Israeli army said in a statement it had launched four helicopter attacks on targets in the West Bank towns of Tulkarm, Salfit and the city of Hebron, as well as on a munitions base in the West Bank town of Jericho.
Witnesses in Hebron said at least three missiles hit the Fatah offices. They said the buildings, which caught fire after the barrage, were empty at the time of the strike, but that exchanges of fire had been echoing for hours throughout the divided town, a frequent flash point.
Three Palestinians who lived near the Fatah headquarters in Hebron were lightly wounded when windows in their homes shattered from the blasts, the witnesses said.
Fatah is a core faction within Yasser Arafat's Palestine Liberation Organization. It had called on Palestinians to begin an uprising on Wednesday and drive Israelis from land occupied in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war.
Eight die in fighting
A senior Palestinian official told CNN on Wednesday that Arafat had told Fatah activists to cease firing on Israelis. That came after a phone call from U.S. President Bill Clinton, who urged the Palestinian leader to "take immediate steps to end the violence."
White House Press Secretary Jake Siewert said Clinton and Arafat spoke for 50 minutes upon Clinton's arrival to attend the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit.
Arafat's orders did not stop confrontations between Israelis and Palestinians Wednesday. The Palestinian Red Crescent said eight Palestinians were killed: three in Gaza, one in Jericho, and four in towns in the West Bank.
Six others were critically injured, the Red Crescent said.
Israeli diplomats said they were unaware of Arafat's cease-fire order and instead referred to Wednesday as a "day of violence."
The diplomats said there was continuous shooting -- one even called it an escalation in violence.
During the fighting, a five-story apartment building in Ramallah was peppered with machine gun fire by Israeli positions after Palestinians fired from the building.
Israeli troops in armored personnel carriers at Ramallah faced off with demonstrators who burned vehicles and hurled stones.
Since September 28, at least 240 people have been killed in violence in Israel and the territories. Among them were 203 Palestinians, 13 Israeli Arabs and 24 Israeli Jews.
Ross, Mrs. Clinton meet with Barak
Meanwhile, first lady and Senator-elect Hillary Rodham Clinton and members of the U.S. Middle East peace team met with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Israeli President Moshe Katzav on Wednesday, Israeli diplomats in Washington told CNN.
In addition, U.S. Middle East envoy Dennis Ross was expected to meet with Arafat late Wednesday, Palestinian chief representative to Washington Hasan Abdul Rahman told CNN.
Mrs. Clinton was in Israel leading the U.S. delegation to the funeral for Leah Rabin, the widow of late Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, who shared the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize with Arafat and former Prime Minister Shimon Peres.
Arafat broadcast to Israel a videotaped eulogy for Mrs. Rabin. "I put with all the respects, a flower from Palestine on your coffin, renewing my commitment for peace," he said.
The eulogy was not broadcast on Palestinian television.
Leah Rabin died Sunday after a long battle with cancer.
Reuters contributed to this report.
Israel closes borders with Palestinian-ruled areas after more deaths
United Jewish Communities
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