Two Arabs Killed on Jordan Border, Two in Occupied Lands
JERUSALEM (AP) _ Israeli soldiers killed two Arab men armed with knives and clubs after they crossed into the Israeli-occupied West Bank from Jordan, the army said today.
In the occupied territories, meanwhile, two Palestinians died in clashes with soldiers late Sunday, the army and Palestinians said.
The army said the border incident occurred Sunday night, shortly after the start of the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, a harvest festival.
Israeli officials have warned of the possibility of an increase in attacks by extremists opposed to the U.S.-sponsored Middle East peace talks. Authorities also contend that Palestinian leaders have encouraged an upsurge in rioting in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip to draw attention to their cause after the peace talks spotlighted Syrian-Israeli negotiations.
On Sunday, Israel sent more troops into the West Bank and Gaza in an attempt to quell violence by Palestinians demonstrating in support of Arab prisoners who began a hunger strike Sept. 27 to demand better conditions.
The Police Ministry announced Sunday night that the prisoners agreed to end the hunger strike in exchange for a review of prison conditions.
The Palestinian human rights group, Al Haq-Law in the Service of Mal, said today that the prisoners agreed only to suspend the strike for a week to see if prison officials made good on promises to improve food, increase exercise facilities, reduce overcrowding and limit solitary confinement.
Several demonstrations were reported today despite the announcement of the strike’s end and a curfew in the Gaza Strip.
Arab reporters said 10 Palestinians were wounded in clashes with soldiers dispersing a march at the Khan Yunis refugee camp in the Gaza Strip. The army said it knew of only two injured.
In a statement on the border incident, the army said two men dressed in civilian clothes crossed the frontier 4 miles north of Jericho. Soldiers gave chase and then opened fire, killing the men about 150 yards from the border, the statement said. They were found with three knives and clubs, it said.
The two Palestinians who died Sundy after clashes with troops were identified today by Arab sources as Moutaz Saidam, 14, of the Nusseirat refugee camp in the Gaza Strip, and Riad Azir, 20, of the West Bank town of Salfit.
The army confirmed both deaths.
The deaths raised to 964 the number of Palestinians killed by Israeli soldiers or civilians since the start nearly five years ago of the Palestinian uprising against Israeli occupation of the territories.
An additional 653 Palestinians have been killed by fellow Arabs, most on suspicion of collaboration with Israel, and 102 Israelis have died in the violence.