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Militants, police clash over arrest of Hamas leader

Ahmed Yassin
Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin has opposed any cease-fire as long as Israel occupies Palestinian territory.  

GAZA (CNN) -- Hamas militants opened fire on Palestinian police enforcing the house arrest of Hamas spiritual leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin early Thursday, Palestinian police said.

The incident occurred just hours after Palestinian intelligence agents and Palestinian police delivered an order for Yassin's house arrest, Palestinian sources said.

The order prompted thousands of Hamas demonstrators to take to the streets and protest the action. The founder of the Islamic fundamentalist group, Yassin lives in a Hamas stronghold in Gaza.

Claims of responsibility for a series of suicide bombings last weekend that killed 25 Israelis were made in the names of Hamas and Islamic Jihad .

Under heavy military pressure from Israel and political pressure from international leaders, Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat said his forces would arrest those responsible and prevent further terror attacks.

CNN's Matthew Chance reports on the mood in Gaza following Tuesday's retaliatory strikes by Israel for weekend suicide bombings (December 5)

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CNN's Jerrold Kessel says many Israelis believe peace with the Palestinians is no longer possible (December 5)

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Early Thursday, Palestinian police said militants with the Izzeddin al-Qassam brigade, the military wing of Hamas, started firing on police outside the home. Twenty to 30 police officers left the scene after the shooting began, witnesses said.

A Hamas source sitting inside Yassin's home disputed the official Palestinian report. He told CNN "people are marching in protest" of the house arrest, but the only gunfire has been shots in the air by Palestinian police.

Yassin has opposed any cease-fire as long as Israel continues to occupy Palestinian territory. He also called the September 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon "no doubt a result of injustice the U.S. practices against the weak in the world."

On Wednesday, the Bush administration froze the assets of a Texas-based Islamic foundation and targeted two Middle East-based banks for what it said were their ties to Hamas.


• Israeli Government
• Palestinian Authority
• Israel Defense Forces
• The White House
• U.S. Department of State
• United Nations

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