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Arabs Join Protests in Thousands

Huge crowds of protesters took to the streets across the Arab world Saturday, chanting "Death to Israel" and denouncing the siege of Palestinian cities while violence in a disputed border area threatened to further inflame the Mideast crisis.

Protesters marched in the tens of thousands through cities in Iraq, Lebanon, Libya and Yemen. Smaller anti-Israeli demonstrations were held in Egypt, Jordan, Bahrain, Syria and Kuwait.

Burning American and Israeli flags, about 10,000 demonstrators in Baghdad urged President Saddam Hussein to "hit Tel Aviv," reviving memories of Iraqi Scud missiles fired on Israel during the 1991 Persian Gulf War.

It was the second day of protests against Israel's storming of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's headquarters in the West Bank city of Ramallah. Surrounded by Israeli tanks and snipers, Arafat and a handful of aides were confined Saturday to one building in the compound.

Following an emergency Arab League meeting in Cairo, the group's Secretary-General Amr Moussa said Arab states disagreed with U.S. calls for Arafat to rein in Palestinian militants.

"How (can Arafat act first) while Israeli troops are few meters away from his office?" Moussa said. He said to give in to the Israeli pressure would be "surrender."

In Bahrain, nearly 1,000 people marched through Manama with banners reading "Yes, to holy war. No to negotiations." The procession was headed by a man dressed as an undertaker who dragged an effigy of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

Palestinian refugees in the Yarmouk camp outside Damascus, Syria, and in the Baqaa camp outside Amman, Jordan, also rallied. "Our suicide operations are in retaliation for Sharon," read a banner in Yarmouk, where the protesters numbered about 3,000.

Meanwhile, near the border between Israel and Lebanon, Hezbollah guerrillas fired rockets and mortars on Israeli outposts in the disputed Chebaa Farms area. Israel responded with artillery fire and air raids. Three civilians were injured.

The Chebaa Farms is situated where the borders of southern Lebanon and the Israeli-occupied Syrian Golan Heights meet. Iranian-backed Hezbollah battled Israeli forces throughout the Jewish state's 18-year occupation of south Lebanon, which ended in 2000.

"Hezbollah is carrying out their duty to liberate every inch of their land and warns the Zionist enemy against continuing and escalating this attack on the struggling Palestinian people," the group said in a statement later Saturday.

Israeli Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer said "Hezbollah is trying to escalate the situation." Speaking on Israeli TV, he said the Hezbollah attack must have been carried out with Syrian and Lebanese government knowledge. Syria is the main power broker in Lebanon.

Arab newspaper editorials condemned Israel and the United States.

"The United States gave the green light for the annihilation of the Palestinian Authority and the isolation of its President Yasser Arafat," Abdul-Wahab Badrakhan wrote in the leading pan-Arab newspaper Al Hayat.

The leaders of Egypt and Jordan -- two of only three Arab nations to have signed peace treaties with Israel -- spoke by phone Saturday. They denounced the confinement of Arafat and warned Israel not to harm him.

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Jordanian King Abdullah II both phoned President Bush. Abdullah urged Bush to swiftly intercede to end Israel's "aggression on the Palestinian people" and the siege of Arafat.

The United States voted in favor of a U.N. Security Council resolution Saturday urging Israel to withdraw its troops from Palestinian cities including Ramallah. The resolution passed 14-0.