Oct. 18 - As Palestinians and Israelis struggled to implement a time frame
for a cease-fire agreement, Israeli security forces swooped into the West
Bank town of Ramallah and seized several Palestinians suspected of being
part of the mob that killed two Israeli military reservists last week.
Forces swooped in as Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak said he still
feared Israel may not have a peace partner in the Palestinians despite the
the cease-fire agreement.
"We did everything to explore the desire of our neighbors for peace
and to put an end to the conflict," Barak said in a speech today. "I am
sorry to say that I am not convinced that at this time, we have a partner
for the difficult and courageous decisions needed for peace," he said,
reaffirming similar comments he made before the emergency summit in Sharm
Barak's comments and the apprehension and detention of a group of
Palestinians suspected of killing two Israeli soldiers in Ramallah did not
appear to bode well for peace in the Middle East.
Palestinian Suspects Seized
Earlier today, a senior Israeli security source said the Palestinians
allegedly involved in the killings were seized in a joint operation by an
undercover army unit and the Shin Bet internal security service and had
been brought to Israel to stand trial.
Television footage showed a group of Palestinians beating the two
soldiers in Ramallah last Thursday. The Palestinians accused them of being
undercover Israeli intelligence officers. In retaliation, Israel launched
airstrikes on Palestinian targets in the West Bank and Gaza.
Israeli radio today reported that the Palestinian man who was
photographed displaying his bloody hands after the killings was in Israeli
custody. The reports said Israeli security forces had arrested him and
seven other Palestinian suspects.
However, Israeli defense officials were not commenting on the report.
Palestinian security officials acknowledged that dozens of
Palestinians living in villages around Ramallah had been arrested by
Israel in recent days.
Implementing the Cease-Fire Deal
Meanwhile, both sides have begun implementing an unsigned deal reached
with the help of President Clinton, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan,
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Jordan's King Abdullah in Sharm
el-Sheikh on Tuesday.
At the end of almost 20 hours of intense negotiations, which began
Monday, both Barak and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat pledged to make
public appeals for the violence to stop. They also agreed on an Israeli
army withdrawal from flashpoints and for a halt to Palestinian protests.
The process began with Israel saying it had begun pulling back tanks
from flashpoints and had reopened the borders of Palestinian areas closed
during nearly three weeks of unrest.
The violence began on Sept. 28 after Israeli right-wing politician
Ariel Sharon's controversial visit to a Jerusalem shrine considered sacred
to both Muslims and Jews. More than 100 people have been killed in the
clashes, mostly Palestinians and Israeli Arabs.
Taking the First Step
Security officials from the two sides met to work out a timetable for
implementing the agreement today, and civil aviation officials said they
expected Israel to allow flights to resume soon at Gaza's international
In an announcement broadcast today on official TV and radio stations,
Arafat's Palestinian Authority reaffirmed its commitment to the
cease-fire. It said it had "issued strict orders to all Palestinians
involved to follow through on the implementation of what has been agreed
on" in Sharm el-Sheikh.
But on the streets of the occupied territories, street leaders called
for a continued intifada (uprising) while Arafat remained publicly silent.
In the West Bank town of Nablus, Ali Farraj, a leader of Arafat's
Fatah faction, told a crowd of 4,000 cheering supporters that his faction
would press on. "The uprising must continue. The clashes must continue,"
said Farraj, speaking during the funeral of a Fatah activist.
After the burial, dozens of mourners marched to an Israeli checkpoint
and threw stones, later to be joined by several gunmen who shot at Israeli
soldiers, drawing return Israeli fire. Near the town of Jenin, shots were
fired at an Israeli jeep, but there were no injuries.
Fatah leaders suggested privately that the shootings would cease
immediately if the order came from Arafat.
Elsewhere, a ferocious battle broke out near Kfar Darom, a Jewish
settlement in Gaza, where Palestinians attacked an Israeli bunker guarding
a settlement after shots had been fired at a Palestinian car passing by.
At least 30 Palestinians were wounded.
Wave upon wave of youngsters wielding stones and fire-bombs descended
on the soldiers, who fired back with tear gas, rubber-coated steel bullets
and live ammunition.
Fighting also broke out on the outskirts of the Palestinian-ruled
West Bank towns of Nablus and Ramallah and in the divided West Bank city
Witnesses said about 6,000 Palestinians marching toward a Jewish
settlement in the heart of Hebron clashed with Israeli soldiers who
responded with rubber-coated metal bullets and tear gas. At least four
Palestinians were wounded, witnesses said.
The World Watches Warily
World leaders are watching events closely to see whether the Sharm
el-Sheikh agreement is implemented.
The U.N. General Assembly has scheduled an emergency debate on the
violence today, despite opposition from the United States and words of
caution from Secretary-General Annan.
Annan, who played a key role in the negotiations, appealed to
Israelis, Palestinians and the international community in general to
"weigh their words carefully" because "words can inflame or soothe, and
everyone needs a restoration of calm and quiet so as to create the best
possible atmosphere for a resumption of peace talks."
Hectic diplomacy was also under way to secure the backing of the Arab
world. U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright today urged Syrian
President Bashar Assad to curb the radical Islamic group Hezbollah.
But Albright emerged from the meeting, held in Saudi Arabia, without
a commitment from Assad, according to a senior U.S. official. In their
first extended encounter, Assad told Albright that Hezbollah was a largely
social organization gaining in influence among ordinary Arabs.
Assad also cautioned Albright that anti-Israeli sentiment was on the
rise in the Arab world and should be taken into account by U.S.
policy-makers, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Syria, which is helping Egypt coordinate the upcoming Arab summit,
criticized the Clinton-led summit when it opened Monday in Egypt, saying
it would abort the "Palestinian uprising."
ABCEWS.com's Sue Masterman in Vienna, The Associated Press and Reuters
contributed to this report.
A Chronology of Clashes
Oct. 18 - Here are some of the key events since the fighting flared
more than two weeks ago.
Sept. 28 - Israeli right-wing politician Ariel Sharon visits a
Jerusalem shrine that is sacred to Jews and Muslims. Palestinians
say he has defiled the al-Aqsa compound and clashes erupt with
Israeli security forces. Dozens are hurt.
Sept. 29 - Stone-throwing Palestinians clash with Israeli security
forces who open fire with rubber-coated metal bullets at the same
shrine, known to Jews as the Temple Mount. At least six Palestinians
are killed as violence spills over into the West Bank and Gaza
Sept. 30 - Battles flare in Palestinian-ruled areas in the West Bank
and Gaza Strip. Palestinian police and Israeli soldiers exchange
fire. The dead include a 12-year-old Palestinian, Mohammad al-Durra,
shot in Gaza in front of rolling television cameras as his father
tries to shield him.
Oct. 1 - Clashes spread to Arab towns in northern Israel. An
attempted cease-fire collapses and more fighting erupts in Gaza and
the West Bank. The dead include an Israeli border policeman at
Joseph's Tomb in the West Bank city of Nablus.
Oct. 2 - Nineteen people are reported killed in a day of fierce
battles in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and in Arab towns in
northern Israel. Israel bars Israelis from traveling to the West
Bank and Gaza Strip.
Oct. 3 - Clashes rage on in the West Bank and Gaza, blowing apart an
Oct. 4 - Clashes continue as Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak hold talks in Paris with U.S.
Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. Arafat declines to sign an
agreement because of a failure to agree terms for an international
inquiry or fact-finding committee.
Oct. 5 - Israel pulls some tanks back from West Bank flashpoints but
fighting continues. Arafat attends talks with Egyptian President
Hosni Mubarak and Albright in the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm
el-Sheikh, but Barak sees no point in going because of Arafat's
refusal to sign the agreement in Paris.
Oct. 6 - Israel's army seals off the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Fighting continues and clashes flare again after Friday prayers at
the al-Aqsa compound, or Temple Mount, in Jerusalem.
Oct. 7 - The United Nations Security Council adopts a resolution
condemning Israel's "excessive use of force" against the
Palestinians. The United States abstains. Barak says the
Palestinians must end their wave of protests within two days or
Israel will consider the peace process dead and use "all means" to
restore order. Lebanese guerrilla group Hezbollah seizes three
Israeli soldiers in a cross-border raid.
Oct. 8 - Clashes flare in the northern Israeli city of Nazareth as
Israel starts the Yom Kippur holiday.
Oct. 9 - U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and Russian Foreign
Minister Igor Ivanov arrive in the region as international peace
efforts intensify, but clashes continue. Barak extends his deadline
and doesn't set a new ultimatum.
Oct. 10 - The Israeli army says fighting has eased for the first
time. Clinton increases pressure on Barak and Arafat to hold a peace
Oct. 11 - Annan shuttles between Barak and Arafat in effort to end
the fighting. No deal is agreed but Annan announces the two sides
will hold a high-level security meeting chaired by the United
States. Sporadic clashes continue. Protesters in Gaza burn an effigy
Oct. 12 - Israeli helicopters fire missiles at targets in Gaza and
West Bank city of Ramallah after a Palestinian mob kills two captive
Israeli soldiers in Ramallah. The events alarm the international
community. Diplomatic efforts to halt the violence intensify.
Oct. 13 - Israeli security forces and Palestinians fight in
sporadic, low-intensity clashes. Annan continues peace talks and
says he expects a summit in 48 hours.
Oct. 14 - Barak and Arafat agree to attend a summit on Monday in
Sharm el-Sheikh with Clinton, Mubarak and Annan. Clashes in West
Bank and Gaza are isolated and of relatively low intensity.
Oct. 15 - Hezbollah says it has captured an Israeli colonel, later
saying he is a Mossad agent lured to Lebanon. Israel says he is
Elhanan Tannenbaum, a private businessman and army reservist. The
situation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip is relatively calm,
despite sporadic clashes.
Oct. 16 - Heavy clashes rage again in the West Bank and Gaza Strip
as Barak and Arafat meet in Egypt. A Palestinian teenager is shot
dead in an exchange of fire with Israeli troops in Bethlehem and a
Palestinian policeman is shot dead in a gunfight with Israeli
soldiers near the Egyptian border.
Oct. 17 - Arafat and Barak agree in Egypt to halt the violence.
Jewish settlers shoot dead a Palestinian near Nablus and clashes
erupt at the Erez Crossing between Gaza and Israel itself before the
agreement is announced. Sporadic violence continues in Bethlehem.
Oct. 18 - Protesters clash with Israeli soldiers at the Erez
crossing between Israel and Gaza. Gun battle breaks out in Kfar
Darom in Gaza.
Back to Dark Savant Ministries