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Arafat holed up as Israeli tanks stand guard

After Israeli forces knocked holes in the perimeter of Yasser Arafat's headquarters in Ramallah, Israel troops entered the compound.
After Israeli forces knocked holes in the perimeter of Yasser Arafat's headquarters in Ramallah, Israel troops entered the compound.  


By Michael Holmes
CNN Correspondent

Israeli tanks, armored vehicles and troops on Friday entered the Palestinian Authority's compound in Ramallah, West Bank -- headquarters of authority leader Yasser Arafat. CNN Correspondent Michael Holmes spoke with CNN from Ramallah by telephone. The following is his report.

(CNN) -- Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and two of his closest aides were holed up in a two-room office in his Ramallah compound Friday, with Israeli tanks and troops waiting just outside.

Arafat and his advisers were in Arafat's regular office in the compound. Two Israeli tanks sat at the bottom of the stairs that lead up to the office.

It's not far from where the tanks are to Arafat's office. However, there had been no attempt to go up those stairs, and Israeli troops were next door, in one of the other buildings in the compound.

CNN's Michael Holmes reporting from Ramallah
CNN's Michael Holmes reporting from Ramallah  

To get to those offices, one would go through a very large steel gate, then walk 100 meters and go through another big gate. Both those gates have been just flattened by tanks.

The tanks were in the heart of the compound, and one could fairly safely say that far from surrounding Arafat's compound, the compound had been taken over. There was small arms fire, grenades going off, and it appeared to be very much a room-to-room situation, as Israeli troops moved through the buildings in the compound.

There was a lot of damage done to the perimeter of the West Bank headquarters of the Palestinian Authority. Walls have been knocked down in at least seven places, cars have been run over by tanks, and even outside the walls of the compound it was just a complete mess.

The tanks knocked over light poles, ran over cars, chewed up the road. It looked something like a disaster area. There were holes in buildings, and stitched across at least three buildings were the pockmarks from very heavy-caliber weapons.

So all in all, it was a very tense situation inside the compound, with something of a standoff emerging. What the Israeli government and the Israeli army plan to do next is anyone's guess.



 
 
 
 







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