Arab World Demands Intervention

From streets choked with tear gas to presidential and royal palaces, Arabs across the Middle East condemned the Israeli attack on Yasser Arafat's headquarters Friday, saying the Jewish state prefers aggression to peace.

Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah, whose Mideast peace plan was endorsed by an Arab summit, said Israel's attack "put a dampener on the (peace) initiative, but the initiative will go ahead in spite of" it.

"Sharon has lost everything — (he has) no reason, no humanity, no morals. But his day will come," the crown prince said, referring to the Israel Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

Palestinian refugees protested in Lebanon, Jordan and Syria, burning tires or meeting truncheons and water cannon blasts with chants of "Death to Israel" while political leaders framed Israel's offensive as a rejection of an Arab peace overture and urged international intervention.

"Hours after the Arab peace initiative was issued from the Beirut summit, Israel replied with a barbaric war and a flagrant and brutal aggression," Lebanese President Emile Lahoud said.

Lahoud chaired the Arab summit in Beirut that ended Thursday with Arab nations offering Israel peace and normal relations in exchange for a withdrawal from territory it seized in 1967 and other concessions.

Arab leaders held telephone conversations with Arafat from a windowless room inside his besieged West Bank compound. Those leaders included Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, Crown Prince Abdullah and Libya's Moammar Gadhafi.

Hariri recounted the conversation for his TV station, Future Television.

Arafat told Hariri that Israeli soldiers were preventing Palestinians from burying five men killed in the compound. The Palestinian leader also said 40 Palestinians had been injured and his building was the only one in the compound still standing after the Israeli attacks.

Israel declared Arafat its enemy Friday and sent tanks and troops into his Ramallah compound after Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's Cabinet approved a major campaign in response to anti-Israeli attacks.

"Sharon has declared war, a war that he cannot win because the will of the people is stronger than the Israeli tanks," Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher said.

Lebanese Foreign Minister Mahmoud Hammoud called the Ramallah raid "an early Israeli attempt to assassinate the Arab peace initiative."

King Abdullah II of Jordan accused Israel of escalating the violence and threatening Arafat's life and said the Jewish state had violated all international conventions, the official Jordanian news agency reported. The monarch telephoned Arafat earlier Friday.

"The Jordanian government warns Israel against harming President Arafat, the symbol of the Palestinian people, their elected president," government spokesman Mohammad Adwan said.

Israel said it wanted to isolate Arafat, not harm or arrest him.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem said he called the Israeli ambassador to Turkey and "asked for the safeguarding of the life of Yasser Arafat."

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak sent an urgent message to President Bush calling for immediate American intervention, Egyptian state media reported. Arab League leader Amr Moussa called Arafat, Secretary of State Colin Powell, European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana and U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan. Annan convened an emergency session of the U.N. Security Council to discuss the Mideast crisis.

Moussa said the league would hold a meeting in Cairo on Saturday to discuss what steps Arab states can take.

Iranian radio quoted Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi as saying: "The occupation of Ramallah today is another example of the state terrorism of the Zionist regime."

In many Arab countries, TV images of Israeli forces entering Ramallah raised anger against Israel, already high after 18 months of Israeli-Palestinian violence.

In Egypt, state-run TV changed its regular programming to follow developments in the Palestinian territories. Arab satellite station Al-Jazeera broadcast footage of the Israeli raids on the compound. Al-Jazeera also ran an interview of Gadhafi urging Palestinians to stage sit-ins inside Palestinian authority buildings, including Arafat's under siege headquarters in Ramallah.

Gadhafi told the station that Arab nations should send armies into the Palestinian territories.

"These are occupied Arab lands," Gadhafi said. "Why can't we enter Gaza and the West Bank to protect the Palestinians, to protect the children, to protect women?"

At entrances to the Ein el-Hilweh refugee camp in south Lebanon, Palestinians burned tires in protest. A general strike closed shops and schools and thousands of angry Palestinians shouted anti-Israel slogans and waved Palestinian flags.

In Jordan — one of three Arab countries that has diplomatic ties with Israel — Palestinian refugees in two camps near Amman called for holy war and for the removal of the Israeli ambassador. Riot police threw tear gas canisters at hundreds of protesters at one camp.

Syrian police used water cannon and truncheons to prevent some 2,000 Palestinian protesters in the Yarmouk refugee camp near Damascus from marching toward the U.S. Embassy.

And in a peaceful protest, about 1,000 Palestinian supporters marched through Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, chanting "Death to Israel."

A similar number marched in the Yemeni capital, San'a, in support of the Palestinians.