As Drama Plays Out, Arafat's Neighbors Express Sorrow, Fear

No crowds of well-wishers massed Thursday outside the Mukata, the mostly ruined compound where Yasser Arafat has been confined for the past two years. Only a throng of reporters assembled, peering through the smoked windows of sedans carrying officials to a frail old man who still embodies the national aspirations of many Palestinians. As Arafat battled a still-undisclosed illness inside the compound’s high walls, his neighbors here in the Palestinians’ political capital expressed deep concern and sadness, but also hope that something better might be imminent after years of what some called his brave failure to achieve an independent state. But many appeared baffled by the events unfolding only blocks away from the shwarma stands, street vendors and grocery stores where they exchange news; for them, the drama might as well have been playing out in another country. Full Story

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