CAFOD was with Arafat hours before Israeli bombardment

 CAFOD's Head of Asia-Middle East section, Catherine Sexton has told of her shock at the Israeli destruction of Yasser Arafat's compound only hours after her meeting with the Palestinian leader. Ms Sexton was part of an 18 strong Caritas Internationalis delegation that met Arafat in a ground breaking meeting last Thursday to discuss the rapidly deteriorating situation in the Holy Land. It was the last meeting he held before Israeli forces started a three day bombardment that destroyed every building in the compound, apart from Arafat's office. Following the meeting, the delegation released a statement (attached) calling for the immediate end to the occupation and declaring that it was appalled by the "Israeli high-tech version of apartheid being implemented in the West Bank and Gaza". The statement also calls for the implementation of all relevant United Nations resolutions and respect for international humanitarian law. The delegation was accompanied by Latin Patriarch Michel Sabbah. "During our meetings with Palestinian leaders and Israeli peace groups, the question came out very strongly as to why Iraq is being held to account when Israel has been allowed to get away with ignoring UN resolutions since 1948," said Ms Sexton. "I felt very shocked that within hours of us being there the Israelis had embarked on an attack on the compound again." "We met Arafat in the meeting room where everyone lives, works and sleeps which is a windowless room in the middle of the building. The rest of the compound looked like a bombed out shell even before the bombardment. Arafat did not look well. The strain of Israeli pressure and what is, in effect, incarceration was evident on his face and the situation is clearly taking its toll." Mgr Sabbah told the delegation that he had voiced his concern at Israeli treatment of Palestinians in the occupied area during a recent meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. He told Sharon: "We love you but you are wrong. We have to love you because you are a human being but what you are doing is very, very wrong."

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