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RAMALLAH : Israel declared Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat its enemy on Friday and its troops smashed their way into his presidential compound in the West Bank, triggering gunbattles that killed five people.
Israeli forces swept into the city of Ramallah, 15 km north of Jerusalem, after Israel dismissed an offer of an unconditional, immediate cease-fire by Arafat following one of the bloodiest Palestinian suicide attacks yet seen.
The Israeli military action was the toughest in 18 months of conflict since the Palestinians launched an uprising against Israeli occupation. It posed the biggest threat to Arafat's grip on power since his return to the West Bank from exile in 1994.
Tensions boiled over despite the emergence of an Arab plan for Middle East peace with Israel that was unanimously endorsed at an Arab summit in Beirut on Thursday …