A senior Palestinian official said on Tuesday that Palestinian security services have the right to use guns to defend their land and people against "Israeli aggression."
"The Palestinian Authority, its police and all its security services have the right to defend our land and our people by all means including guns," Palestinian cabinet secretary Ahmed Abdel Rahman told a news conference.
"We are doing this in self-defense against Israeli aggression," he added.
On Friday, Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat ordered Palestinians not to shoot at Israelis from areas under the control of his self-rule authority and from inhabited zones throughout the occupied territories.
But the Israeli army said the order left the door open for attacks from areas not under full Palestinian security and civilian control.
Abdel Rahman's comments followed a fierce Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip on Monday night in retaliation for the killing of two Jewish settlers in a bomb attack against a school bus in the area.
"Israel is launching a war to destroy the Palestinian Authority because the Palestinian Authority is refusing Israel's political dictates," Abdel Rahman said.
A total of 250 people, most of them Palestinians, have been killed in the violence raging across the West Bank and Gaza Strip for almost eight weeks.
"The peace process, the way the Israelis see it, does not exist anymore for us," Abdel Rahman said.
Israel last month declared a time-out in the peace process because of the violence, although negotiations had been stalled since the collapse of the US-sponsored Camp David peace summit in July.
"In the same way that Israel is killing Palestinian children by shooting at their heads and their hearts, they have also shot the heart of the peace process," Abdel Rahman added.
He also criticized the United States for its attitude during the violence.
"The Americans weep when any Israeli is injured but they are closing their eyes to the killing of more than 200 Palestinians," he said – GAZA CITY (AFP)
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)