Two Palestinians shot dead; Israel raids Hebron; PA, Hamas try to ease Gaza Strip tensions

Published October 8th, 2002 - 02:00 GMT

One Palestinian was killed and six others wounded on Tuesday by Israeli gunfire near the northern West Bank city of Jenin, Palestinian sources said.  


Palestinian witnesses conveyed Israeli soldiers opened fire at a Palestinian young man in a village near Jenin, and killed him without any justification, adding that the soldiers also prevented ambulances from rescuing him.  


Israeli tanks patrolling in the southern Gaza Strip opened fire into a Palestinian refugee camp on Tuesday, killing a girl, Palestinian witnesses and hospital officials said. 


Additionally, Palestinian sources said six children were wounded early Tuesday by Israeli gunfire on their way to school in Jenin. The incident occurred when dozens of school children threw stones at the Israeli soldiers in the town in defiance of the curfew that had been imposed for over 100 days.  


Later in the day, Israeli armored personnel carriers moved into the Palestinian-controlled part of Hebron, and the army imposed a curfew there after four Israelis were wounded in a roadside ambush.  


Israeli television reported that Palestinians fired on one of the Jewish enclaves in downtown Hebron shortly before the army entered the Palestinian part of the city.  


Soldiers fired bursts of machine gun fire as they moved into the Palestinian neighborhoods in their armored vehicles, Palestinian witnesses said.  


After the shooting, Jewish settlers scuffled with Palestinians in downtown Hebron and smashed the windows of four Palestinian-owned cars, witnesses said.  


The Palestinian governor of the city, Arif Jaabri, complained, "Settlers are taking any chance to attack Palestinians and take the law into their own hands, not for the first time. This is going on under the eyes of the Israeli army and police."  


Elsewhere in the West Bank, Israeli troops arrested a wanted member of Fatah in the village of Beit Rima, Israel Army Radio reported. In the village of Baqa Al Sharqiyeh Israeli troops arrested a wanted Islamic Jihad member.  


In Gaza Strip, a 35-year-old Palestinian man wounded in Monday's missile strike died of his wounds Tuesday in a Gaza hospital, doctors said, bringing the death toll from the Israeli raid in Khan Younis to 15. More than 110 were wounded.  


A Palestinian security official told AP Tuesday that three of the dead were affiliated with Fatah. None of the 14 killed had any ties to Hamas, the official added.  


Hamas, PA 

Despite reports Tuesday of an agreement between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, tensions persisted Tuesday after four Hamas activists were killed and several others were wounded in clashes the previous day between Palestinian police and Hamas operatives following the assassination of a senior PA policeman, Rajeh Abu Lehiya.  


Senior PA and Hamas officials continued talks during the day in a bid to bring an end to the crisis. Palestinian sources said that the sides reached an agreement according to which Hamas activists will cease their demonstrations and PA policemen will leave the Gaza Strip areas they entered following Monday's riots.  


Ahmed Abdel Rahman, secretary of the Palestinian Authority cabinet, on Tuesday said the PA was doing all it could to try and contain the frustration and mounting tension.  


Palestinian security sources said Hamas activist Imad al-Aqel killed Col. Abu Lehiya, 47, in revenge for the death of his brother and two other Hamas activists at the hands of PA riot police on October 8, 2001.  


Hamas memebers disguised as police officers reportedly set up a check point and stopped Abu Lehiya's car. They commandeered the car, drove it to a nearby Hamas-controlled neighborhood, and ordered Abu Lehiya out. Then they shot him dead and wounded his two bodyguards, a police statement said.  


Aqel later proudly addressed residents at the al-Maghazi refugee camp where he lives, saying he had avenged his brother's death by killing Abu Lehiya. Following the assassination, police were ordered to arrest anyone seen carrying a weapon, a PA source said.  


PA cabinet minister Nabil Sha'ath was quoted on Tuesday as saying he hoped Hamas would hand over Abu Lehiya's killers to PA police by next Monday, apparently as part of the agreement reached between the two sides.  


Sha'ath termed the incident "a crime that cannot be ignored," and added that all illegally owned weapons must be turned over to PA police, to curb the recurrence of such events in future.  


Before the reported 'ceasefire', Hamas activists threw three hand grenades at Palestinian policemen near the police headquarters in Gaza city Tuesday morning. No one was hurt.  


The funerals of the 4 killed Hamas men were held in Gaza City on Tuesday. Some 2,00 people attended them, and in some instances tries to confront PA police on the scene. ( 

© 2002 Al Bawaba (

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