Five Palestinian civilians shot in Gaza Strip as truce talks set to resume
A Palestinian civilian on Wednesday was seriously wounded by Israeli fire in the Gaza Strip. Eyewitnesses said that Israeli soldiers opened gunfire at a Palestinian tractor near the Jewish settlement of Netzarim, seriously wounding the man.
Earlier, on Tuesday night Israeli occupying forces shot and wounded three other Palestinian civilians in the Al-Qasas area in the southern part of Rafah City, south of Gaza Strip, as another civilian was wounded in the West Bank city of Ramallah.
Palestinian hospital sources said that three Palestinian civilians have been admitted to the local hospital of Abu Yousef Al Najjar after being shot and wounded with heavy Israeli bullets.
Meanwhile, Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei and a delegation of Egyptian mediators were due in Gaza Wednesday to discuss a possible cease-fire with all Palestinian factions.
In what was seen in Gaza as another sign of serious work on a truce, Palestinian president, Yasser Arafat decided late Tuesday to release funds of Islamic charities frozen in August, a Palestinian official said. He said the decision was a goodwill gesture to the Islamic groups in advance of talks about a cease-fire.
Hamas and Islamic Jihad have indicated that they would consider a truce, but on Tuesday, Hamas spokesman Mahmoud Zahar took a hard line. In a meeting with reporters, Zahar said, "Our position depends on our national demands. Otherwise we are not going to accept."
A senior source close to Israel's Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said late Tuesday that Israel would agree to halt its policy of assassinations, and cease military operations in the occupied territories, if the Palestinians would reach and maintain a new cease-fire agreement, Israel Radio reported Wednesday.
The source added that Sharon and Qurei would meet in several days, and said that Qurei "will not be a puppet nor a rag doll nor a spitting image of Yasser Arafat." The source noted "we don't know if he'll be good or bad, but
clearly he's a very independent fellow." (Albawaba.com)
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