Palestinian Killed, 17 Injured in Clashes with Israeli Soldiers
A Palestinian security man was killed by an Israeli tank shell and at least 17 others were injured in clashes with Israeli soldiers Friday after Israel imposed a complete closure on the Palestinian territories in response to twin bomb attacks a day earlier.
Israeli soldiers fired one tank shell at the Palestinian post near the Erez crossing point between Israel and the Gaza Strip, hospital officials said.
Mohammed Ali Nassir, 26, a Palestinian border guard, died after the room he was in was hit by the shell, hospital officials said, adding that two other Palestinians were injured by the blast.
The hospital described their injuries as moderate.
The Israeli army confirmed that it shot at the Palestinian security post near the Erez crossing point between Israel and the Gaza Strip.
"There was one tank shell fired towards a Palestinian post in response to massive shooting from there," a spokeswoman for the Israeli army told AFP.
Palestinian security officials said that Palestinian gunmen had been shooting at the Israelis from near their post, but denied that they were involved in the incident.
Friday's death brought to 359 the number of people killed since the start of the Palestinian uprising, or Intifada, on September 28. More than 300 Palestinians have died in the fighting.
Also Friday, Israeli soldiers posted on the outskirts of Ramallah in the West Bank fired live ammunition and rubber-coated bullets at Palestinian youths who were throwing stones and bottles at the Israelis, medical officials said.
Three people were hit by live bullets and 12 by rubber-coated steel bullets.
The clashes broke out in Ramallah after a march by some 2,000 Palestinians.
"We die for Palestine!" shouted some of the demonstrators.
In the northern West Bank town of Nablus, some 6,000 supporters of the militant Islamic Resistance Movement, or Hamas, held a demonstration in which they called for holy war against Israel.
Demonstrators in Nablus also set fire to a model of an Israeli bus, a sign of support for armed attacks against Israeli civilians, a day after a bomb attack on an Israeli bus in Tel Aviv left 13 injured.
Israeli caretaker Prime Minister Ehud Barak, acting on his power of defense minister, ordered the total closure of the Palestinian territories after the attack on the bus.
Also Thursday, a bomb attack on an Israeli army patrol in the Gaza Strip killed two soldiers and wounded two others.
In Jerusalem Friday, midday prayers attended by more than 20,000 people, according to Israeli police, ended without violence.
Israeli police had dropped age restrictions on Palestinian residents of Jerusalem and Israeli Arabs entering the al-Aqsa mosque compound in occupied east Jerusalem for the weekly Friday prayers.
Because of the closure, however, no Arabs from the West Bank and Gaza Strip were permitted to enter Jerusalem, a police spokesman said.
Israel has blockaded the West Bank and Gaza Strip -- either entirely or partially -- for most of the Intifada, which erupted after a visit to the al-Aqsa mosque compound by right-wing Israeli leader Ariel Sharon on September 28.
The al-Aqsa mosque compound is the third holiest site in Islam, and it sits atop of a hill supported by the Wailing Wall, the holiest shrine for Jews.
Since the beginning of the Intifada, Israeli police have decided each week on the degree to which to limit Palestinian Muslims from coming and praying at al-Aqsa, fearing violence.
A loose coalition of Palestinian groups, known as the National and Islamic Forces, has called for solidarity marches across the West Bank and Gaza Strip on Monday to mark the 35th anniversary of the start of armed attacks against Israel by Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's Fateh faction.
The coalition says the marches will honor the beginning of the "Palestinian Revolution." -- GAZA CITY (AFP)
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