Funeral of an Arch-Terrorist

The first of the two parts of arch-terrorist Arafat's funeral ended in Cairo, and the actual burial - an unruly and volatile affair - began at 2 PM in Ramallah.

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, | updated: 2:56 PM

The first of the two parts of arch-terrorist Yasser Arafat's funeral has ended in Cairo, and the second part - the actual burial - began at 2 PM in Ramallah. The PA security services had difficulty enforcing order. The unruly and volatile funeral continues as this report goes to press.

Some 40 political leaders from around the world, including U.S. Assistant Secretary of State William Burns, attended the Cairo ceremony. It lasted only a few minutes, and no speeches were delivered. Several non-Arab nations, such as Brazil and South Africa, joined Syria, Yemen, Jordan, Malaysia and others in sending their heads-of-state. The Foreign Ministers of Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Portugal, Spain, the United Kingdom and the European Union also attended.

An Egyptian military plane flew the body to El Arish in Sinai, from where a helicopter took it to Ramallah - with three other helicopters escorting it. Thousands of Arabs were allowed into the Mukata compound, after they nearly crashed down the barriers erected around the area, and many tens of thousands of people later arrived in the immediate vicinity. The PA security forces were unable to fully control the mobs, and the coffin was forced to remain inside the helicopter for half an hour. Uncontrolled shooting in the air accompanied the landing, and some people were reported injured in the course of clearing the way for the coffin.

The coffin was finally taken through the mobs to a building set aside for eulogies and the like. Similar difficulties in removing the body from the building and taking it to the actual burial site are foreseen.

Israeli sources had criticism of the Palestinian Authority for the way in which it handled security for the funeral. Analaysts covering the funeral for Israel TV said that the disorder was a sign of the low quality of the PA security forces.

Amidst a top-level security alert throughout Judea, Samaria and Gaza, some clashes and violence erupted in various shows of mourning - including reports of burning and destruction of Joseph's Tomb in Shechem. In the midst of the Ramallah funeral procession, mortar shells were fired at a Gush Katif community, lightly wounding a young boy.

The sky over Ramallah was filled with black smoke this morning, caused by youths burning tires in anticipation of the arrival of Arafat's body.

An unknown number of Israeli left-wing extremists were also expected to arrive in Ramallah to pay their last respects to the arch-murderer. This, despite police warnings of Arab intentions to harm the unwelcome visitors. The Israelis were informed that the risk they are taking is their own, and that Israel's security forces are not responsible for their safety.

Another potential flashpoint was neutralized earlier in the day. Only some 15,000 Moslem worshipers attended today's Ramadan prayers at the Temple Mount - approximately a tenth of those who attended on previous weeks. Police allowed only Israeli residents aged 45 and over to take part.


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