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Hebron Explosion Rocks Fatah Office

July 20, 2001

HEBRON, West Bank (AP) _ An explosion destroyed the one-story Hebron office of Fatah, the party of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, on Friday night. One body was seen being pulled from beneath debris.

Palestinian security sources said an Israeli helicopter fired two missiles that destroyed the Fatah party offices. But the Israeli army refused immediate comment, and witnesses in the area did not report hearing or seeing any helicopters over the building.

Palestinians in the area _ the center of the Palestinian-controlled area of Hebron _ were digging through debris, searching for people. Bulldozers began pushing rubble aside; police and ambulances were on the scene.

Palestinian security sources identified the dead man as Rajai Abu Rajab, an activist in the Tanzime, the military wing of the Fatah party.

Soon after, heavy gunfire broke out at a valley between the Palestinian village of Beit Jalla and the Israeli neighborhood of Gilo, which is on the outskirts of Jerusalem.

According to Jerusalem spokesman Shmuel Ben-Ruby, Palestinians fired from Beit Jalla toward Gilo and Israeli soldiers responded. There were no immediate reports of injuries or damage.

Hebron, where about 450 Jewish settlers live in a heavily guarded enclaves among 130,000 Palestinians, is often a site of violence. Gunfire exchanges between Palestinians and Israeli forces have been frequent during the 10-month Palestinian uprising.

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