Bomb blast launches new "day of rage" against Israel : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Friday, November 10 6:17 PM SGT

Bomb blast launches new "day of rage" against Israel JERUSALEM, Nov 10 (AFP) -

A bomb blast in east Jerusalem Friday launched another "day of rage" declared by Palestinians vowing to take revenge for the Israeli helicopter assassination of one of their leaders, amid fruitless efforts to break the cycle of violence.

An Israeli policeman was slightly hurt in the explosion near Herod's Gate leading into the Old City, police said, pinning the blast on a Palestinian remote-controlled bomb.

The injured man was taken to Jerusalem's Hadassah hospital as police sealed off surrounding streets and carried out a search of the area.

Police were numerous in Jerusalem as usual on Fridays, the Muslim day of prayer which radical groups have said should be a weekly "day of rage" against the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian presence.

The authorities have banned access to the sensitive al-Aqsa mosque compound to men aged under 45 in a bid to lessen the risk of trouble.

The explosion also came the day after an Israeli helicopter gunship killed a military chief of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement near Bethlehem, prompting vows of revenge from Palestinians.

More clashes were feared after the Bethlehem funeral Friday of Hussein Suyef Abeyat, 37, the leader of a military faction in the southern West Bank, who was killed along with two women bystanders when a missile hit his car.

Israel claimed he was responsible notably for causing the death of three Israeli soldiers and was preparing another attack when he was killed.

"No-one is immune from punishment," Israeli Deputy Defence Minister Ephraim Sneh told CNN television.

"We are ready to start the negotiations, to resume the talks. Our strategy is to reach peace with the Palestinian people, but as long as there is this sort of guerrilla war we are playing with our rules," he added.

Justice Minister Yossi Beilin Friday said such operations were quite justifiable if they succeeded in ending the six-week-old violence, in which almost 200 people, mainly Palestinians, have been killed.

But Fatah warned that it would hit back, saying, "The blood of martyr Hussein Suyef Abeyat will not flow for nothing."

Overnight the Israeli army reported numerous exchanges of fire between its troops and armed Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, which caused no casualties.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak said Friday he saw little chance of resuming the peace process with the Palestinians following upcoming talks with US President Bill Clinton.

"I am pessimistic about the chances of re-launching the political process with the Palestinians after my meeting with Clinton," Barak said at a military base near the West Bank town of Ramallah, according to his spokesman David Ziso.

"My purpose in Washington will be above all to stop the violence," he added.

Barak is due to leave late Saturday to meet Clinton, who saw Arafat in Washington on Thursday for two hours of talks which White House spokesman P.J. Crowley said focused on how to break the cycle of violence.

Arafat said he had raised his demands for an international protection force in the Palestinian territories, which US officials have publicly discouraged it, noting vehement Israeli opposition and saying they would not support the Palestinian demand for UN involvement.

Arafat was due in New York on Friday to see UN chief Kofi Annan, where he will again press the issue. Like Clinton, Annan has said that, without Israeli agreement, a UN force is not an option.

US officials said both sides, who blame each other for the continuing violence, needed to do more to implement agreements to take steps to end it.

The Palestine Liberation Organization, dominated by Fatah, meanwhile stepped back from a planned move towards declaring a separate Palestinian state next week, which Israel had warned would have serious consequences.

The PLO's Central Council would not meet on or before November 15 as it had intended, its chairman Salim al-Zanun told Voice of Palestine radio.

The Central Council decided on September 10 to delay unilaterally declaring statehood, but vowed to meet by November 15 to review the issue.

Al-Zanun said the meeting was not possible by November 15 because of the Islamic summit in Qatar due to be held from November 12 to November 14.

"We agreed that the date of the Central Council meeting will be declared as soon as possible," Al-Zanun said.

He was also cited in the Palestinian newspaper al-Quds as saying the Council would meet "before the end of the year."

-- Martin Thompson (, November 10, 2000

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