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Israel: It's Warfare

Four Palestinians, Four Israelis Killed In Clashes Tactics In Conflict Show Signs Of Intensification Barak Promises Retaliation Against Those Who Attack Israelis

WASHINGTON and JERUSALEM, Nov. 13, 2000 (CBS) As the death toll in Israeli-Palestinian clashes passed 200 B with four Israelis and four Palestinians dying Monday B Israel said the conflict is no longer an uprising, but open warfare.

Palestinians in a car opened fire on a convoy of Jewish settlers escorted by army vehicles between two Israeli settlements in the West Bank in the late afternoon, killing an Israeli woman in a civilian car and two soldiers and wounding eight, the military said.

After nightfall, Palestinians opened fire on an Israeli truck near the Kissufim crossing point in Gaza, killing another Israeli.

Two Palestinian teenagers were killed in a clash with Israeli forces near the Gaza refugee camp of Khan Yunis, Palestinians said. The Israeli military denied its soldiers opened fire there. A Palestinian policeman was shot and killed in a nighttime clash with Israeli soldiers near the city of Qalqilya in the West Bank.

Another teenager died in an Israeli hospital of wounds suffered Saturday.

After the ambush on the road between the Jewish settlements of Ofra and Shilo, Col. Gal Hirsh, the Israeli army area commander, charged that the violence was the result of the Palestinian Authority's release of extremists from its prisons.

"We knew this would happen," he said. "We'll track them down, find them and punish those responsible."

Responding to the violence, the Israeli army closed off all Palestinian-controlled areas in the West Bank, preventing Palestinians from leaving.

At least 206 people have been killed since the latest outbreak of Middle East violence began on Sept. 28, the vast majority of them Palestinians.

In recent days, the stakes have been raised: fighting has taken place during the day instead of just at night, Israel assassinated a leading Palestinian gunman, and Palestinian militants said they intended to move the fighting into Israeli-controlled parts of the West Bank and cut off Jewish settlements there.

Israelis say the clashes have taken on the color of warfare, not a civil uprising like the 1987-93 Palestinian intefadeh.

"What we see now is really not an intefadeh," Foreign Minister Shlomo Ben-Ami told Israel television. "When uniform-wearers are shooting uniform-wearers, I call it a war."

West Bank Palestinian militia leader Marwan Barghouti forecast further escalation.

He said that on Nov. 15, the 12th anniversary of a symbolic declaration of independence by Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, Palestinians will take steps to enforce "popular sovereignty" in the West Bank and prevent Israeli soldiers and settlers from moving in areas under joint control.

In a speech at an Islamic summit conference in Qatar on Sunday, Arafat said the Palestinians "are determined more then ever to continue their jihad and the resistance of the occupation."

An Israeli official said that if it appears that Arafat is serious about his pledge to unilaterally declare statehood before the end of the year, Israel would unilaterally separate from the Palestinians, and would assume control of most B if not all B of Jewish settlement areas.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak reacted angrily to news of the ambushes. Barak, in Chicago for a meeting of U.S. Jewish leaders after talks with President Clinton in Washington Sunday, said in a statement that Israel will not accept attacks on its soldiers and civilians, and the perpetrators will be punished.

"This criminal act is the direct result of the policy of the Palestinian Authority, which encourages violence and calls for jihad (holy war) against Israel," he said.

Following a two-hour Sunday night meeting with Mr. Clinton, Barak said talks with Arafat and other Palestinian officials would take place only after there was a stop to the Palestinian-Israeli violence.

A Palestinian poll showed a dramatic rise in support for violence against Israelis. The poll by Bir Zeit University indicated that 80 percent of the people favor what it termed "military attacks." Two years ago the figure was 44 percent, said the pollsters.

The clashes were sparked by the visit of the hard-line leader of the Israeli opposition, Ariel Sharon, to a Jerusalem shrine holy to Muslims and Jews on Sept. 28.

Israel's insistence on sharing rather than conceding the site B known as the Temple Mount to Jews and the Noble Sanctuary to Muslims B broke up groundbreaking talks at Camp David in July.

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-- Martin Thompson (, November 13, 2000


Israel Seals West Bank After Four Killed

By Megan Goldin

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israeli soldiers erected obstacles to blockade Palestinian-ruled towns in the West Bank on Tuesday after Palestinian gunmen killed four people in one of the bloodiest days of violence since a Palestinian uprising began.

The Israeli army said it was cordoning-off Palestinian-ruled areas in the West Bank for security reasons after a 41-year-old mother of five, two Israeli soldiers and a 26-year-old truck driver were killed in drive-by shooting attacks in the West Bank and Gaza Strip on Monday.

The army clampdown came after almost seven weeks of Israeli- Palestinian bloodshed in which 214 people have been killed, mostly Palestinians.

Four Palestinians also died on Monday -- two teenagers shot in Gaza, a policeman in the West Bank and a youth critically wounded during clashes on Saturday.

The Israeli deaths prompted Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, in Chicago for meetings with Jewish leaders, to consult military and political advisers at home by telephone.

``He (Barak) has instructed them all on what steps to take,'' a senior Barak aide, Gilad Sher told reporters in Chicago.

The move was a return to the widespread sanctions against Palestinians that Israel lifted in mid-October after committing to a cease-fire accord brokered by the United States at the Egyptian resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh.

The head of the Israeli forces in the West Bank, Major-General Yitzhak Eitan, said the closure would be more stringent than in the past.

``Now we are closing most Palestinian towns and areas, with limits on free movement between cities and main roads. Palestinians won't be stuck, but their movements will be limited,'' the general said.

In effect, only vehicles transporting food, medicine or humanitarian aide will be able to enter or leave cordoned zones, he said.

``Following the gunfire incidents in which civilians and soldiers were killed, the Israel Defense Force encircled all towns in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) and imposed a closure on Gaza,'' the army said in a statement.

Funerals, Violence Rages

Three Palestinians killed in violence on Monday were expected to be buried after noon prayers on Tuesday along with a fourth Palestinian, Gaza security chief Mohammed Dahlan's nephew Ahmed, who died from wounds sustained in earlier clashes.

Gunshots echoed in the West Bank and Gaza late on Monday as Israeli soldiers and Palestinian gunmen exchanged fire near the West Bank towns of Qalqilya, Bethlehem and Nablus, the army said.

A massive gun battle was also being fought near the Kfar Darom Jewish settlement in Gaza, Palestinian witnesses said. There were no immediate reports of casualties.

Israeli forces and Palestinian gunmen traded fire at a familiar flashpoint on the outskirts of Jerusalem on Monday.

Soldiers fired anti-tank rockets at the West Bank town of Beit Jala after gunmen there opened fire at Israeli apartment buildings in the Jewish settlement of Gilo, a neighbouhood on the fringes of Jerusalem.

Barak's talks with President Clinton at the White House on Sunday appeared to have produced no concrete ideas to halt the bloodshed or revive the seven-year-old peace process.

The Israeli leader, who has questioned President Yasser Arafat's credentials as a ``partner for peace,'' suspended already-deadlocked peace talks three weeks ago after accusing the Palestinians of failing to end violence.

After the White House meeting, Barak told reporters that: ''Israel strives for peace but a peace that will be reached around the negotiating table rather than through imposing of the will of one side on the other or through international activities.''

Barak returns to Israel on Tuesday via Britain where he stops briefly for talks with Prime Minister Tony Blair at his residence and U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan at Heathrow Airport.

In Washington, U.S. officials said the funeral on Wednesday of Leah Rabin, the wife of slain Israeli leader Yitzhak Rabin, might provide an opportunity for mediators to hold talks with both sides about ending the violence.

U.S. Middle East envoy Dennis Ross is expected to be included in the U.S. delegation to the funeral, headed by first lady and Senator- elect Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Israel Blames Palestinian Authority For Attacks

Taking a significant step beyond previous Israeli charges that the Palestinian Authority was doing little or nothing to halt violence, Eitan accused Arafat's self-rule regime of actively encouraging terrorism against Israelis.

``Not only is it doing nothing to stop the terrorism, through non- stop incitement and the behavior of their security forces, they are encouraging it,'' Eitan told reporters.

``It is no secret (the gunmen) are enjoying the support of the Palestinian leadership in killing as many Israeli civilians as possible. The Palestinian Authority is doing nothing to put terrorists under arrest.

``We demand the Palestinian Authority fulfil its responsibilities (under interim peace deals) to put an end to such violence. The Palestinian Authority holds full responsibility for these acts.''

Arafat's senior aide Tayeb Abdel-Rahim blamed Israel for the shootings saying they were in response to: ``Israeli terrorism in the past weeks against our people.''

In Qatar, leaders of the world's 1.2 billion Muslims ended a summit meeting on Monday with a strong condemnation of Israel. But they rejected attempts by hard-liners to call for a jihad, or holy war, against the Jewish state. tml

-- Martin Thompson (, November 14, 2000.

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