PLO appeal to international community to protect Arafat


The Palestine Liberation Organisation's executive committeeHas appealed to the world not to permit an Israeli assault to priseArafat out of his West Bank headquarters, urging it to preventany "crimes against President Arafat personally".

The appeal follows yesterday's bombing in whish a Palestinian suicidebomber blew herself up in a crowded beach restaurant in thenorthern Israeli city of Haifa, killing at least 19people including three children.

Arafat condemned the attack and said it would give Israel apretext to obstruct international peace efforts.

Israel has launched overnight air strikes on Gaza City, Palestinian security sources report.

The attack just before the Yom Kippur fast day has provoked anoutcry abroad and renewed demands in Israel for the governmentto exile Yasser Arafat, prompting Palestinian leaders to appealto the world to prevent any assault to oust their president.

The Islamic Jihad movement said it was behind the attack, inwhich the bomber struck as families sat down for lunch on theJewish sabbath at the Maxim restaurant, owned by a ChristianArab and a Jewish family and frequented by Arabs and Jews.

Police said the dead included three children and a securityguard, and that about 50 people were wounded. Israeli media saidone of the dead children was a baby of several months and thetwo others were aged three and five. A number of Israeli Arabswere also thought to be among the dead.

The attack followed an increase in tension this week afterIsrael decided to build a new stage of its barrier with the WestBank which will cut deep into Palestinian territory.