Western peace activists holed up with Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat said Monday that they have vowed to remain with the besieged Palestinian leader in his office in the West Bank city of Ramallah until Israel withdraws its troops.
Arafat has been confined to two rooms of the three-story office building since Friday, when IDF troops took over the compound.
Peace activist Claude Leostic also told Al Jazeera television station Monday that there was "quiet in Arafat's office, which is encircled by eight [IDF] tanks."
Leostic said that the IDF troops tried Monday morning to approach the entrance to the building, but that ultimately no one entered.
Palestinian President Yasser Arafat, surrounded by members of his staff talks to international peace activists in his Ramallah office April 2, 2002 in a photo handed out by his office. Arafat will not accept exile from his homeland under any circumstances according to Palestinian cabinet minister Saeb Erekat. He was responding Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's suggestion he would let Arafat leave Ramallah only on a 'one-way ticket.' (Hussein Hussein/Reuters)
Seven foreign peace activists and a Palestinian television cameraman were wounded Monday when an IDF soldier fired at the ground in front of them, officials and witnesses said.
About 100 Palestinian and foreigner demonstrators marched through the center of the West Bank town of Beit Jala behind a sign saying "We want peace not war," witnesses said.
As they approached an IDF armored personnel carrier, an IDF soldier in the carrier fired several shots from a rifle into the street in front of them, sending up chips of concrete, television footage showed.
Health officials said a Palestinian and seven foreigners were hurt. They included two Americans, two Britons, and one each from Australia, Japan and France.
The Palestinian, who was wounded in the leg, was a cameraman covering the march for the Associated Press, colleagues said.
The director of Beit Jala hospital, Peter Qumri, said one woman was undergoing surgery to remove shrapnel from her abdomen and was in a satisfactory condition.
The army said earlier Monday that troops had stopped 50 foreigners, mostly Italians, from entering Ramallah, where they had planned to join others who reached Arafat's office Sunday.
Israel police said the army had handed over 10 French nationals to their custody pending their expulsion from Israel.