Five Arabs Killed, At Least 90 Injured In Clashes With Troops
JERUSALEM (AP) _ Israeli troops shot and killed five Palestinians and wounded at least 90 people in clashes in the occupied Gaza Strip on Saturday, Israeli and Arab reports said.
The clashes were the bloodiest in Gaza since a wave of riots that swept through the seaside strip in May.
Estimates of the number of wounded Saturday ranged as high as 182.
The worst violence occurred in the Rafah refugee camp after an Israeli military patrol encountered a group of masked Arab activists.
The army said the soldiers ordered the Palestinians to stop and when they refused, opened fire, killing two. Palestinian journalists said the soldiers fired when the activists refused to stop writing slogans on a wall.
The army said the activists were carrying ″cold″ weapons. It did not elaborate but the term refers to weapons that are not firearms, such as sticks, knives and chains.
The dead activists were identified as Osama Ismail el-Bulbeisi, 16, and Islam Harb, 19. Arab accounts said both were shot in the head.
News of the deaths spread in the refugee camp, and an angry Palestinian mob pelted soldiers with stones. The army said there were ″mass violations of order″ and that the patrol commander, a 2nd lieutenant, was injured in the face.
Palestinians hurled at least 26 firebombs at the troops, and the soldiers opened fire again after finding themselves in a life-threatening situation, the army said. Two Arabs were killed in that shooting, it said.
Palestinian journalists identified them as Hisham Abu Harb and Fawsi Eisa, both 19.
The military also said a Palestinian woman from Rafah was brought dead to Nasser Hospital in nearby Khan Yunis. It said the cause of her death was unclear but the army included her in the overall toll of Palestinians injured or killed by army gunfire.
The deaths brought to 785 the number of Palestinians killed by Israeli troops or civilians in the uprising against Israeli rule of the Gaza Strip and West Bank. An additional 322 Palestinians have been killed by fellow Arabs on suspicion of collaborating with Israel. Fifty-seven Israelis have also been slain.
According to the military command, 60 people were wounded in the clashes in Rafah and nine were were hospitalized. Israel radio put the number of wounded in the confrontation at 100.
The Arab-run Jerusalem Media and Communications Center and Arab reports from Rafah said 152 people were treated at the United Nations clinic there and that 30 were in serious condition.
Rafah is known as a base of hard-core uprising activists who have killed at least 23 fellow Arabs on suspicion of helping Israel in the last seven months.
The last time Gaza was the site of such violence was following the May 20 killing of seven Gaza laborers by an Israeli gunman near Tel Aviv. In three days of rioting, Israeli troops shot to death 12 Palestinians and wounded hundreds.
Earlier Saturday, the military reported ″local disturbances″ in the Gaza refugee camps of Jabaliya and Khan Yunis.
It was not known whether troops opened fire in Jabaliya; there were no reports of injuries in the camp.
In Khan Yunis, clashes broke out after an army patrol trying to clear a road barricade came under a barrage of rocks thrown by Arabs from mosque and house rooftops, said Arab reporters based in Gaza.
The army said three firebombs were hurled at soldiers, who then opened fire.
The army quoted Nasser Hospital officials as saying they treated 30 Palestinians for gunshot and other injuries.
Israeli officials have predicted a surge in the 3-year-old Palestinian uprising surrounding this week’s ″Fatah Day.″
Tuesday marks the 26th anniversary of the first anti-Israeli attack by Yasser Arafat’s mainstream Fatah wing of the Palestine Liberation Organization.