Palestinian Leadership Due to Meet ‘to Evaluate the Situation’
Head of Gaza preventive security, Mohammad Dahlan, said Saturday afternoon that the situation in the Palestinian territories was "nearing explosion," and that the Palestinian leadership was due to meet later Saturday "to evaluate these situations.”
However, the Palestinian official warned in an interview with Al Jazira satellite channel that if the Palestinians were put in the corner, "we will teach [Israeli chief of staff Shaol Mofaz] a lesson he will never forget."
Dahlan said he had refused to meet with Mofaz to discuss a cease-fire.
He told Al Jazira that he and Mofaz had talked on the phone, "but there was no cease fire agreement."
Mofaz had told a press conference earlier the same day that he "spoke to Mohammad Dahlan and Jibril Rjoub [Dahlan's West Bank counterpart] and agreed on a ceasefire," according to AFP.
Dahlan added that the Palestinians will demand the trial of all the Israeli officers and soldiers who opened fire on the Palestinian protestors, because "there was no need for that.”
Meanwhile, AFP confirmed in a report that a ceasefire was declared after 15 Palestinians were killed by the Israeli army’s fire.
The agency did not source its report.
Israelis and Palestinians traded accusations over who was responsible for the bloodshed.
Dhlan added in the interview with Al Jazira TV that the Israelis used three LAO rockets.
Israel's acting Foreign Minister Shlomo Ben Ami said the clashes were orchestrated by the Palestinian Authority.
Ben Ami was quoted by AFP as saying that Israel had asked world leaders to tell Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat "that the attempt to make political gains from violence in the short run is a very dangerous matter to the peace process.”
But Arafat reportedly accused the Israelis of having orders "to aim for the head of Palestinian citizens and worshippers."
Palestinian health minister Riad Zaanun, who announced the toll of Palestinian deaths and injuries, accused the Israeli army of "using live ammunition and dumdum bullets, which are banned internationally," and of aiming at the upper part of the body.
However, the army told Israeli public radio that it does not possess any dumdum bullets, said AFP.
For his part, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, in a telephone call to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, said the army was exercising "maximum restraint," while being "determined to preserve public order and protect its citizens,” according to the agency.
Barak told Mubarak that the Palestinian Authority also needed to show restraint and control the disturbances, his spokesman David Baker said.
According to reports, the total toll of the three-day confrontations was 22 deaths and more than 500 injuries.
On the Israeli side, officials said 16 policemen and one soldier were injured Saturday. A police spokesman added that 30 Palestinians were arrested, said AFP – (Several Sources)
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