Two more Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire in the town of Qarara, where Israeli troops entered three areas under full Palestinian control on the eve of the 53rd anniversary of the Nakba, the Arab term for the day Israel was created and some 700,000 Palestinians became refugees.
Al Jazeera satellite channel said that the Israelis carried off the dead body of one of the attack’s victims. To date, according to BBC reports, about 500 people have been killed in several months of clashes, "the vast majority of them Palestinians."
Meanwhile, the town of Beit Jala in the West Bank came under heavy Israeli fire after four Israelis from the nearby Gilo Jewish settlement were reportedly injured when Palestinian gunmen attacked the neighborhood.
Earlier, an 11-year-old Palestinian boy was seriously injured when a 500mm projectile struck him in the abdomen in Rafah.
The Palestinian news agency, WAFA, identified the injured boy as Ziad Majdi Shaath, adding that he was shot during an Israeli barrage with heavy weapons and machineguns directed at the city's As Salam neighborhood. Medical sources told the agency that the child was “in a very serious condition.”
Meanwhile, Palestinian President Yasser Arafat on Monday sounded tougher than usual when he condemned Israel's killing of five Palestinian policemen as "dirty and immoral" and said the Jewish state would pay for its crimes.
Speaking to reporters after meeting European Union Middle East envoy Miguel Moratinos in Gaza, Arafat was quoted by Reuters as saying that all but one of the paramilitary policemen, whose duties included liaison with Israeli troops guarding a nearby military checkpoint, were asleep when they were killed.
"This group was operating a checkpoint dealing with the Israeli side in all matters. They surprised them while four of them were asleep and assassinated them," Arafat said.
"It was a dirty, immoral operation and not a military one...Israel must know that it will be harshly judged over this crime," he added, without elaborating.
Details were still sketchy on how the five members of the Palestinian National Forces operating an outpost at the edge of the Palestinian-controlled West Bank town of Beitunia, west of Ramallah, were killed.
Palestinian witnesses said four policemen were inside a shack while two others were on guard duty outside when Israeli soldiers fired from a building overlooking the position. Five policemen died on the spot. A sixth was taken to hospital.
A Palestinian ambulance officer said his crew found the bodies of the five men shot dead by heavy machinegun fire and dumped in a hole near the checkpoint.
The Israeli army said it had no knowledge of the killings as described by the ambulance officer, added Reuters.
A spokeswoman said soldiers on "operational activity" near Beitunia village saw "suspicious figures who were where they were not supposed to be" and opened fire. "It was probably them," she said. She added that the soldiers had not opened fire with machineguns.
Arafat has given strict orders to his policemen to refrain from using their guns unless they are attacked.
Palestinian Information Minister Yasser Abed Rabbo called the killings "murder in cold blood.”
Palestinian Planning Minister Nabil Shaath said the killings demonstrated the necessity of international intervention to stop what he called "a dirty war" being waged against Palestinians.
PALESTINIANS PREPARE TO MARK NAKBA, ARAFAT TO ADDRESS HIS PEOPLE
According to Al Jazeera's correspondent in the West Bank, the Palestinian national forces in coordination with the PA have prepared a public program to mark the Nakba, which comes this year under the toughest conditions ever.
Rallies from each Palestinian town will march to city centers where at noon, sirens will sound. All Palestinians will stand for three minutes and sing the national anthem.
After that, said the correspondent, President Arafat will deliver a televised speech to his people, to be followed by a broadcast of a poem by the celebrated Palestinian poet, Mahmoud Darwish, on TV and radio.
JORDAN URGES WORLD TO INTERVENE AFTER GAZA RAIDS
Jordan denounced Israeli missile strikes on Palestinian targets in Gaza and urged the world community on Monday to intervene to end the spiraling violence.
"Jordan calls for a concerted effort to stop the dangerous escalation that threatens the whole region," said Foreign Minister Abdul Ilah Al Khatib, quoted by the state news agency Petra, said Reuters.
He condemned the strikes against Gaza on Sunday night, saying past events showed that Palestinian retaliation intensified whenever Israel stepped up its attacks.
"This leads to a spiraling cycle of violence at a time when (both sides) should be responding to efforts being exerted to seek a way out of this situation and pave the way for a resumption of efforts to achieve peace," Khatib said.
He said the UN Security Council and its permanent members -- the United States, Britain, France, China and Russia -- had "special responsibility" to back efforts to end the bloodshed.
Khatib supported a blueprint by a US-led committee, which he said contained ideas presented by Jordan and Egypt for an end to the violence and a return to peacemaking.
ISRAELI SAPPERS DETONATE TWO BOMBS IN PETAH TIKVA, CLASHES CONTINUE
Israeli police sappers blew up a large bomb hidden in a shopping bag in Petah Tikva on Monday morning, and another was detonated later in the day, said Israeli media reports.
A police patrol discovered the device at a bus stop near the corners of Jabotinsky and Hasibim Streets adjacent to Beilinson Hospital during a patrol early in the morning.
Roads in the area were closed off, causing heavy traffic jams as sappers detonated the bomb with the aid of a television-equipped robot, according to a report on the Yediot Ahronot Hebrew daily website.
There were no injuries in the blast, although several shops in the vicinity sustained some damage.
Six bombs have so far been found in the city in the last six weeks.
QATAR CALLS FOR OIC MEETING
The Qatari News Agency (QNA) reported Monday that the Gulf emirate plans to call for a meeting of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) to discuss the latest development in the Palestinian lands.
The proposed meeting would be held at the foreign ministerial level.
Qatar holds the rotating presidency of the organization, which held a conference on ways to support the Intifada in Doha last December – Albawaba.com
© 2001 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
© 2000 - 2022 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)