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 May 2000 - Return to Complete Index    MiddleEast.Org         5/20/00
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As we said last week, Intifada II:



 "The commander of Israeli forces in the West Bank,
 Maj. Gen. Moshe Yaalon, said that if the escalation
 continued, Israel might bring in attack helicopters
 or even enter areas under Palestinian control."

HEBRON, West Bank (AP) - Undeterred by Israeli threats to hold up a land transfer and use more force, hundreds of Palestinians marched on Israeli army positions in the West Bank and Gaza Strip today and hurled stones for a seventh straight day. At least 84 Palestinians were reported injured.

In the West Bank town of Ramallah, a Palestinian man who was critically wounded in the head by Israeli army gunfire on Friday died today. Doctors identified the victim as 28-year-old Issa Abed, a cafeteria worker at nearby Bir Zeit University.

His death brought to four the number of Palestinians killed in a week of clashes, including several gun battles, between Israelis and Palestinians.

Palestinians took to the streets starting last Sunday to press demands for the release of 1,650 prisoners held by Israel for anti-Israeli attacks. Palestinian activists have declared Friday and today ``days of rage'' to draw attention to the prisoner issue.

In the divided West Bank town of Hebron, about 1,500 demonstrators marched toward an Israeli army checkpoint at the entrance to the Israeli-controlled downtown area today. Palestinian police did not intervene.

Standing on rooftops and behind cement blocks, Israeli troops fired rubber bullets at hundreds of stone throwers. Twirling a slingshot, Ahmed Qawasmeh, 22, said he has a brother in jail and would do whatever he can to win his release. ``We were waiting for this moment to show our anger and our disappointment over the peace process,'' he said.

Paramedics trying to evacuate one injured demonstrator dropped him repeatedly to duck stones and rubber bullets. Another Palestinian was about to throw a stone when he was hit in the chest by a rubber bullet and fell to the ground. Three bystanders carried him to an ambulance, one of six on standby at the scene. In all, 31 were injured in Hebron, paramedics said.

In the West Bank town of Tulkarem, about 400 Palestinians threw stones at Israeli soldiers guarding a crossing point into Israel. A phalanx of six Israeli jeeps tried to hold the crowd at bay. About two dozen young men took cover behind barrels just 20 yards from the Israeli soldiers, and lunged forward from time to time to throw stones. Twenty-seven Palestinians were hurt, medical officials said.

Elsewhere in the West Bank, a dozen Palestinians were injured in clashes in the town of Ramallah, one in the Nablus and nine in the town of Jenin, according to the officials. Almost all the injuries were from steel-coated rubber bullets.

In the Gaza Strip, hundreds of Palestinian police tried to keep stone-throwers away from an isolated Israeli army post near the Jewish settlement of Netzarim. At first, Palestinian police moved aggressively, tackling stone-throwers, bundling them into pickup trucks and driving them away. However, most made their way back to the scene.

At least six injuries were reported.

On Friday, the Netzarim Junction was the scene of a gunfight between Israeli and Palestinian troops in which 11 Palestinians and an Israeli soldier were wounded.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak has threatened to delay an upcoming Israeli withdrawal from three West Bank villages next to Jerusalem if the violence is not immediately curtailed.

He has also said he might postpone his trip to Washington, scheduled for Monday and Tuesday, if tensions remain high in the Palestinian areas and along the Israeli-Lebanese border. He has not said when he would announce his final decision.

The commander of Israeli forces in the West Bank, Maj. Gen. Moshe Yaalon, said that if the escalation continued, Israel might bring in attack helicopters or even enter areas under Palestinian control.

``If they don't take control of the riots and we suffer casualties, we will have no choice but to fight back,'' Yaalon told Israel TV's Channel One on Friday evening.

In its weekly meeting Friday evening, the Palestinian Cabinet blamed Israel. ``The Palestinian leadership condemns the actions of the Israeli troops who fired live shots, rubber bullets and gas at peaceful demonstrations,'' a Cabinet statement said.

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