Sharon’s statement followed a helicopter missile strike that killed six Palestinians and injured five others. Four Hamas members were among those killed, according to the group. Israel said the attack, which took place in the southern Gaza town of Rafah, targeted senior Hamas activist Yasser Rizik, the alleged mastermind of a January attack that killed four Israeli soldiers.
In Ramallah, more than 20 Israeli tanks encircled Palestinian President Yasser Arafat’s Ramallah headquarters, while dozens of armored personnel carriers, tanks and helicopters entered the Palestinian-controlled city. This is the third time in a month that Israel has taken such action. Arafat was inside the compound at the time of the Israeli military advance, and was not harmed.
In a statement issued by Wafa, the Palestinian news agency, Arafat said, “The Israeli government, with these continuous attacks, has revealed to the whole world its real intentions.” He went on to say that Israel’s aggression “would not achieve any political results.”
Also Monday, Palestinian police in Gaza City surrounded Hamas spiritual leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin’s home, and Palestinian authorities announced he had been placed under house arrest.
Hamas responded by renewing threats against Israel and warning Arafat to lift Yassin’s house arrest.
“We emphasize our right to continue the jihad and resistance, and to intensify the martyrdom operations as a reaction to the policy of the occupation and the (Palestinian) authority,” the group said in a statement.
Israeli troops performed house-to-house searches in the West Bank city of Jenin, arresting Mohammed Abu Hanana, the Palestinian military intelligence head. Troops also discovered and blew up two explosives laboratories, according to military officials.