Violence in Palestine Surges amid Calls to Escalate Intifada, Prepare for War

Published February 7th, 2001 - 02:00 GMT

There was a sharp rise in the number of shooting incidents in the West Bank Tuesday as violence continued in the Palestinian lands, with Palestinians calling to intensify the Intifada, and prepare for a confrontation with Israel under PM–elect Ariel Sharon’s rule.  

The Jerusalem Post reported early Wednesday that Palestinian gunmen opened fire on Hebron's Jewish settlement shortly after midnight. 

The Israeli army returned fire, but there were no injuries in the incident, said the paper. 

More than 60 Palestinians were reportedly injured Tuesday with clashes with the Israeli forces as thousands of protestors in Ramallah, Hebron and other towns marked the Israeli elections with “a day of rage.” One Israeli soldier and a border policeman were lightly hurt by stones in the incidents. 

In Gaza, soldiers defused a bomb that had been planted next to the border fence north of the Kissufim crossing.  

Palestinians shot at an army post near Rafah close to the Egyptian border, and at IDF positions near Neveh Dekalim. 

Israel buried Tuesday afternoon Rujayah Salameh, the Israeli soldiers who was shot dead Monday afternoon near Rafah by a Palestinian sniper. Salameh's family called on the press to refrain from covering the funeral, attended by hundreds of local residents and his comrades, said The Jerusalem Post. 

On Tuesday night shots were fired at an army base south of Jenin and at the Kadim settlement. In the early evening, the army was forced to close the Gush Etzion tunnel road twice for short periods after Palestinian gunmen shot at Israeli soldiers and vehicles near El Khader, the paper added.  

Although Palestinian President Yasser Arafat said Tuesday that he respects the Israeli people’s choice of Likud leader as their premier, Palestinian officials’ reactions varied between pessimism and calling for escalating the Intifada.  

West Bank Fateh secretary, Marwan Barghouthi, told reporters that if Sharon is elected prime minister, the Palestinians must escalate the Intifada. Hamas spiritual leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin declared that it made no difference whether Sharon or Barak is elected, as "both have Palestinian blood on their hands."  

According to AFP, Palestinians painted a dim picture Wednesday of the prospects for peace-making with Israel's right-wing Prime Minister-elect Ariel Sharon, but adopted a wait-and-see attitude, hoping Sharon will ease his hard line. 

"We consider the victory of Sharon as head of the Israeli government to have a gloomy significance for finding peace in the region and, in particular, for Israeli-Palestinian relations," said an editorial in Palestinian newspaper Al-Quds. 

"There is also a danger for renewed conflict with Arab countries," added the newspaper, considered close to Yasser Arafat's self-rule Palestinian Authority. 

A cartoon in the same newspaper depicted Sharon using a paintbrush to cover a canvas labeled "portrait of peace" with a coat of blood-red pigment, said the agency. 

Nabil Amr, minister of parliamentary affairs, was quoted as saying the Palestinians were ready to negotiate if Sharon were serious, but also prepared for an uphill battle after the collapse of negotiations under outgoing premier Ehud Barak. 

"Of course the crises with Sharon are inevitable. Barak failed to cut a deal with us over any issue. Now, we should concentrate more on the Palestinian national rights and international legitimacy. We can agree with any Israeli leader who comes close to Palestinian rights," he told Voice of Palestine radio. 

"It is preferred to wait to see from which point Sharon wants to start the peace process. Also, we wait to see how the US administration will intervene in regards to the peace process," he added. 

The daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, also close to Arafat's authority, said in an editorial entitled "Another General" that it hoped Sharon would be better than past Likud prime ministers. 

"We are ready for battle with those who want to do evil and we are ready for negotiations based on balance, if he is serious to negotiate a just and lasting peace based on international laws and complete past agreements and not just negotiate for the sake of negotiations as was the case with past Likud prime ministers Yitzhak Shamir and Benjamin Netanyahu." – 



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