Major sieges in occupied West Bank

Israeli forces have raided a West Bank prison to try seize a top Palestinian fighter, Ahmed Saadat, accused of killing an Israeli minister. Here are some details about other major sieges in the West Bank:

    Israeli forces on Tuesday raided a West Bank prison

    * March-May 2002:

     

    - Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon declared Palestinian President Yasser Arafat "an enemy" and ordered a tank and troop offensive against his Ram Allah headquarters.

     

    - After a month-long siege, Israeli forces left the Ram Allah compound under a US-brokered deal.

     

    - Saadat, the leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), was in the compound and was sent to prison in Jericho after Israel and the Palestinian Authority reached the deal to end the siege.

     

    * April-May 2002

     

    - Israeli tanks and troops entered most West Bank towns and cities including Bethlehem as part of a military offensive which Israel said was intended to halt a wave of suicide attacks.

     

    - Some 200 Palestinian armed men and civilians initially took refuge in the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem and remained holed up inside along with 40 Franciscan monks and four nuns. Israeli troops surrounded the complex, one of the holiest sites in Christendom.

     

    - The siege eventually ended on 10 May under a European-brokered deal. Thirteen fighters left the church and were flown to Cyprus at the start of an exile. Twenty-six other fighters were taken from the church to the Gaza Strip.

     

    * September 2002

     

    - Israel launched another siege of Arafat's complex in response to suicide bombings that killed seven people in the Jewish state.

     

    - Israel withdrew under US pressure on 29 September after 10 days. The pullback was an embarrassing climbdown for Israel, which had vowed to end the siege only when the Palestinian president surrendered some 50 suspected fighters holed up with him in the compound.

    SOURCE: Reuters


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