Israeli Troops Open Fire at Market; Four Palestinians Killed
JERUSALEM (AP) _ Israeli troops opened fire in a refugee camp market Wednesday after being attacked by firebombs, U.N. officials and Arab reporters said. Four Palestinians were killed and more than 50 wounded.
The violence at Rafah in the Gaza Strip came as Palestinians were shopping for the feast marking the end of Ramadan, the holiest time on the Muslim calendar. It was the bloodiest single confrontation between Palestinians and troops in the occupied lands in three years.
The Israeli troops were chasing Palestinian men who had thrown firebombs at them, said Rolf van Uye, a spokesman for the U.N. Relief and Works Agency.
″Troops started opening fire, and at the time the market was extremely busy because of the end of Ramadan,″ van Uye said.
The army, which confirmed four dead and 10 wounded, said a grenade was thrown at an army observation post in Rafah town, which borders the camp.
Troops closed the area and spotted a car as it sped from the scene, running over three bystanders, the army said. Firebombs were thrown at the troops, and one device set a border police jeep ablaze, said an army official, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Troops opened fire, killing two Palestinians who had thrown firebombs, the army official said. He said he did not know how the other two Palestinians were killed.
PLO spokesman Bassam Abu Sharif, speaking by telephone from Tunisia, called the shootings a ″massacre″ and urged the Bush administration to pressure the Israeli government to prevent further shootings.
Six of the wounded were in serious condition, one with a bullet in the head, van Uye said.
The Rafah violence was the bloodiest in the occupied lands since April 13, 1989, when border police stormed the West Bank village of Nahalin and killed five Palestinians.
In Jerusalem, 17 Palestinians were killed on Oct. 8, 1990, when police stormed the Temple Mount area after stone were thrown at Jewish worshipers.
More than 900 Palestinians have been slain by Israeli soldiers and civilians since the start of the uprising.
Hospital officials identified the four slain Palestinians as Ashraf Abu Harb, 20, Majed Abu Sohri, 17, Ibrahim Subeh, 22, and Mohammed Hamaida, 18.
Also Wednesday, troops shot and killed a Palestinian and wounded two Arab teen-agers after being stoned during a raid of the West Bank village of Tarkumia, army officials said.