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Flames lick Ramallah after sunrise attack

THE Israeli army on Tuesday launched rocket and tank fire on the Palestinian security service headquarters in Ramallah.

Flames were pouring from the building after it underwent heavy fire. A military source said the army had told the Palestinians inside overnight to leave the building.

At sunrise, two tanks could be seen positioned in a street of the old town as heavy machinegun fire erupted all over Bethlehem.

The arrival of the tanks was preceded by flights over the town all night by fighter jets and helicopters.

At daybreak the streets of Bethlehem were deserted. The

occupation of Bethlehem followed that late of Monday of Tulkarem, a Palestinian autonomous town in the north of the West Bank.

Israel has already occupied Ramallah and taken almost all of the headquarters there of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

Meanwhile, Iran said it would consider using oil as a weapon to force the United

States to pressure Israel into withdrawing from Palestinian

territory.

Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharazi said the use of Arab oil to turn the screws on the

US and Israel would depend on a collective decision by Islamic

countries.

”If they decide to use oil as a weapon certainly Iran will

consider it. It will be effective if all Muslim countries would

take such a decision,” he said on the sidelines of an Organisation

of the Islamic Conference meeting on terrorism.

Iraq’s ruling Baath party on Monday called on Arab countries to

use their oil power against Israel and the United States to ensure

the liberation of Palestinian land.

”Use oil as a weapon in the battle … otherwise it will become

a burden which will lead to (more) humiliation,” the party’s

national command said in a statement.

Arab oil producers, who account for half of world supplies, have

not used the oil card since the 1973 crisis, despite repeated calls

by Iraq and others to do so.

The statement branded the United States ”an enemy and a partner

of Zionism,” and alleged that the Israeli military offensive in the

Palestinian territories ”was mounted in joint agreement with the

American administration.”

Washington dismissed Baghdad’s call as ”random musings”.

Deputy State Department representative Philip Reeker said the idea

was not being taken seriously in the Arab world.

”I just don’t have anything on random musings from the Iraqi

regime,” Reeker told reporters when asked about Iraq’s call. ”I

don’t think the Arab world takes that seriously,” he added. – Sapa-AFP

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