- Despite strict orders to troops besieging Yasser Arafat's
compound in the West Bank city of Ramallah not to harm the Palestinian
Authority Chairman, IDF officers said at the weekend that the situation
at the site was very sensitive and that it would be impossible to rule
out the possibility of Arafat being harmed, by accident, during clashes.
- The officers said that their soldiers had been ordered
to refrain from harming Arafat, but added that the Palestinian leader could
be inadvertently hit by a stray bullet during the gunfire exchanges taking
place in and around his offices.
- Among the dozens of Palestinians holed up and besieged
by the Israel Defense Forces in Arafat's offices are a number of senior
PA members, together with a number of wanted men arrested by the PA in
the past, including the murderers of Tourism Minister Rehavam Ze'evi, who
was gunned down by the PFLP outside his hotel room in Jerusalem last October.
- Palestinian sources said Saturday night that Arafat had
received an ultimatum from Israel that if he did not hand over individuals
in the building who were on Israel's wanted list, IDF soldiers would enter
the building to capture the men themselves. Israel Radio quoted security
sources Saturday saying that the PA leader had not been given any ultimatum
but had been presented with a demand by Israel for the wanted men to be
- Military sources told Ha'aretz that Arafat's personal
bureau, on the second floor of the building that houses his offices, was
also serving as home to the commander of the Palestinian security forces
in the West Bank, General Haj Ismail Jaber; the head of the PA's General
Intelligence service in the West Bank, Tawfik Tirawi; the governor of Ramallah,
Mustafa Liftawi; and Arafat's adviser, Nabil Abu-Rudeineh.
- According to the sources, Fuad Shubaki, the PA's money-man
who played a central role in the Karine A weapons ship affair, was also
holed up in and around Arafat's office.
- West Bank Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti, the sources
said, had fled the Ramallah area to one of the neighboring villages just
as the IDF had initiated its military offensive on Thursday night.
- Sources in the defense establishment believe that Arafat
"will record" the absence of Barghouti from the campaign.