Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

100 TANKS HIT ARAFAT TOWN; Britain Warns That Conflict Threatens International Crisis

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

100 TANKS HIT ARAFAT TOWN; Britain Warns That Conflict Threatens International Crisis

Article excerpt

Byline: SAM KILEY;HUGH MUIR

ISRAEL sent 100 tanks into Nablus today, escalating its attack on Palestinian forces in the worst fighting for decades.

The new violence was met with warnings from Britain that the conflict could engulf countries beyond the Middle East.

Foreign office minister Peter Hain said the violence marked "the most dangerous conflict in the world" and the European Union demanded that Israel end its invasions.

Tanks and armoured vehicles poured into the biggest West Bank town, leaving only Hebron and Jericho under Palestinian control. Police fought running battles with Israeli forces and set up home-made mines.

Control of cities gained by the Palestinians under the 1993 Oslo peace process has been entirely lost as the West Bank saw the worst fighting since the foundation of Israel in 1948.

The White House appeared to acknowledge international pressure by emphasising that a political process could lead to the creation of a Palestinian state.

Mr Hain said: "This conflict could engulf the region and therefore draw us all in, with really serious consequences

for the entire international community. I am really worried about the escalation of this crisis, not just in the region but internationally, that draws us all in."

Mr Hain said Britain must stand firm with the EU, US, United Nations and Russia in urging an end to the violence, adding: "We have got to work at the grinding business of diplomacy because nothing else is working" Yasser Arafat issued a statement urging people to "close ranks in a long-term struggle against this occupation and to mobilise all its resources ...

to confront this unjust and criminal war".

It said Israeli premier Ariel Sharon is determined to "separate by rivers of blood instead of building bridges of peace".

EU ministers today embark on a high-level peace mission, but already it is clear that Mr Sharon is willing to continue his military operation in the face of international condemnation, including criticism from the Pope. …

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