Three Palestinians Killed, Peace Activists Visit West Bank With AM-Israel-Peacemaking, Bjt
JERUSALEM (AP) _ Israeli peace activists skirted an army blockade to meet with Palestinians Sunday, journalists reported, on a day of more clashes in the occupied lands with three Arabs reported killed and at least 22 wounded.
A 9-month-old Israeli girl knocked unconscious in a weekend stoning attack on a car was in serious but stable condition at Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem, a hospital spokeswoman said.
The army confirmed all three deaths Sunday, but a military spokesman said he knew of only four Palestinians wounded. Arab hospital officials and reporters said at least 22 were wounded.
At a Cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir indirectly criticized U.S. and European leaders in comments on the opening of U.S. diplomatic contacts with the PLO, Israel radio reported.
″The whole world wants us to withdraw from Judea and Samaria,″ the radio quoted Shamir as saying. ″They are weary of the conflict. The world concentrates more on an Israeli withdrawal than on the need for peace.″
Judea and Samaria are the biblical names for the West Bank.
Shamir’s spokesman Yossi Ahimeir said the premier planned to counter the latest U.S. move by launching his own initiative with a trip to Washington in February or March.
The clashes erupted during a general strike called to protest five Arab deaths Friday in the West Bank city of Nablus, hospital officials said.
Despite the violence, a group of about 40 Israelis sponsored by the leftist Peace Now movement traveled to the West Bank town of Beit Sahur to tell a church filled with 400 Palestinian worshipers they favored dialogue with the PLO.
The activists, including legislator Ran Cohen of the left-wing Citizens Rights Movement, reached the town by a back road after the army shut main roads into the town, news photographers at the scene said.
″We believe that now there is only one possibility of solution ... a solution which includes a Palestinian independent state beside the State of Israel,″ Cohen said during the visit.
Asked why the army tried to seal off the town, a military spokesman said: ″There were warnings that there would be attempts to disrupt public order in the area and therefore it was decided to close it.″
Issa Yacoub Massad, a Beit Sahur resident, said youths in the town had agreed not to throw stones during the visit.
Before the Israelis spoke at the church, townspeople broke into the Palestinian anthem ″Homeland, Homeland.″ Later, about 200 Palestinian women demonstrated outside, chanting pro-PLO slogans and waving a PLO flag. Soldiers ordered them to disperse and there was no violence.
Sunday’s general strike paralyzed public transportation and commerce throughout the occupied territories and complicated Israel’s efforts to reopen West Bank high schools, which have been shut since September.
A military government spokesman said all the high schools opened except those in Nablus, which has been under curfew since bloody clashes claimed five victims Friday. But Arab news reports said many of the 50,000 high school pupils didn’t attend classes because of the strike.
Sunday’s fatalities were identified by hospital officials as Ibrahim Mohammed Badran, 24, of Deir al Ghusun village near Tulkarem in the West Bank, Zoheir Ismail Fiyad, 22, of Shabura in Gaza, and Mohammed Ferhat, 30, also of Shabura.
Their deaths raised to 332 the number of Palestinians killed in the yearlong uprising against Israeli occupation. Thirteen Israelis also have been killed.
An army spokesman said Badran was shot as he tried to throw a concrete block at a soldier from a rooftop as troops conducted a search and arrest raid in his hometown of 3,000.
The second fatality, Fiyad, a student at Gaza’s Islamic University, was shot during a protest in the Shabura neighborhood of Rafah, on the Egyptian border in Gaza, an official at nearby Nasser Hospital said.
An army spokesman confirmed Fiyad’s death but said investigators were checking the circumstances.
The other victim died at a U.N. clinic in Rafah, according to Arab reports. Other casualties occurred during eight clashes in Gaza and the West Bank, hospital officials said. Arab news reports said a curfew was placed on Nablus, Qalqilya, and the Deir al Balah refugee camp.