Tags: Mideast | Clashes | Continue | Despite | Try | Restraint

Mideast Clashes Continue Despite Try At Restraint

Sunday, 24 February 2002 12:00 AM

The Israelis pulled back troops in the Gaza Strip and agreed to exercise restraint "providing the Palestinians take serious steps to fight terror," an aide to Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer told United Press International.

However a Palestinian was killed when he reportedly approached an army post shouting Allahu Akbar (God is great), two Israeli soldiers were shot and injured Saturday night near Bir Zeit in the West Bank, and about 18 Palestinians were injured in an exchange of fire at the southern Gaza Strip.

A senior Israeli defense source told UPI there has been "a slight drop" in clashes but it is too early to come to any conclusions.

The agreement to reduce tension was reached Thursday at a meeting between Israeli and Palestinian commanders and security officers. The Israelis on Friday withdrew troops that had taken positions near the el-Bureij refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip and opened roadblocks.

Defense Minister Ben-Eliezer instructed the army to "do the minimum required at this time and hope there will be a response," his aide told UPI. "There was a directive to issue more restraint," the aide said.

The Ha'aretz newspaper quoted an unnamed Israeli source as saying that targeted killings would be carried out "only in the most necessary cases when they 'catch someone with 20 kilos of explosives.'"

An aide to the head of the Palestinian Preventive Security in the West Bank, Col. Jibril Rajoub, also confirmed to UPI an understanding to have a quiet week during the holidays.

However a 22-year-old Palestinian, Firas al-Baw, was shot and killed north of Hebron.

The Israel Defense Forces spokesman said the man ran towards a military outpost shouting Allahu Albar (God is great) and was shot when he reached the fence.

The army spokesman said a subsequent search showed the man was unarmed. The Palestinian Red Crescent Society's spokesman, Mohammad Ayyad, said the man was carrying only a copy of the Koran and was hit by several bullets.

About 18 Palestinians, many of them children, were injured Saturday near a narrow strip that Israel controls separating the Palestinian autonomous Gaza Strip and Egypt, Ayyad reported. Four of them were in critical condition.

Military sources said armored vehicles were looking for exits of tunnels that straddle the border area and that the Palestinians allegedly use for smuggling arms and drugs. The military sources said Palestinians hurled 40 hand grenades at the soldiers and the soldiers returned fire.

Two Israeli soldiers were injured Saturday night near Bir Zeit, in the West Bank, when gunmen fired at their car.

Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, meanwhile, has expressed opposition to an Israeli plan to establish buffer zones to prevent unauthorized Palestinian entry into Israel.

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon announced the plan Thursday night. Sharon was responding to Israelis' nervousness over increasing attacks by militants.

Arafat has reportedly argued that the buffer zones would turn the autonomous Palestinian areas into isolated cantons.

Arafat discussed the matter in a telephone call with U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, an Arafat aide said Saturday, and urged Powell to oppose the buffer-zone proposal.

Nabil Abu Rudeineh, a top aide to Arafat, said Arafat also called for an American intervention in putting an end to Israeli attacks.

Arafat told Powell that a buffer-zone policy "would have negative repercussions on the whole region" and that Arafat stressed that a cease-fire requires effort from both sides, the aide said.

Meanwhile, Sharon has summoned his political security Cabinet for an early Sunday morning meeting to decide whether to lift travel restrictions imposed on Arafat. The Israelis have confined Arafat to Ramallah, since early December, in an attempt to force him to arrest the people involved in the killing of Tourism Minister Rehavaam Zeevi in Jerusalem and in arms smuggling.

In recent days the Palestinians have detained several suspects in Zeevi's assassination. Some Israeli leaders, such as Ben-Eliezer, want to lift the restrictions on Arafat. Hawks are opposed. Infrastructure Minister Avigdor Liberman reportedly threatened to quit the government if Arafat is allowed free movement.

A well-placed government source told UPI he expected the ministers to issue a "conditional yes," placing some stipulations on Arafat.

The Palestinian Authority said Saturday that its security forces have begun interrogating the three militants suspected in Zeevi's assassination. The questioning is being handled by the Palestinian state security prosecutor in Ramallah, according to a statement by the Palestinian news agency Wafa.

Copyright 2002 by United Press International.

All rights reserved.

© 2019 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

1Like our page
The Israelis pulled back troops in the Gaza Strip and agreed to exercise restraint providing the Palestinians take serious steps to fight terror, an aide to Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer told United Press International. However a Palestinian was killed when he...
Sunday, 24 February 2002 12:00 AM
Newsmax Media, Inc.

Newsmax, Moneynews, Newsmax Health, and Independent. American. are registered trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc. Newsmax TV, and Newsmax World are trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc.

America's News Page
© Newsmax Media, Inc.
All Rights Reserved