Two Palestinians Die, 16 Wounded In Clashes
JERUSALEM (AP) _ Christian pilgrims celebrated a subdued Christmas in Bethlehem under heavy guard, and one Palestinian was killed and 16 were reported wounded in clashes with troops elsewhere in the occupied lands.
The army said two people were wounded Sunday.
In the hilltop town where Jesus was born, most shops were closed in solidarity with the yearlong Palestinian uprising and only a few colored lights hung from the municipality’s Christmas tree.
Police and soldiers inspected cars for weapons.
As pilgrims chanted mass in the Church of the Nativity off Manger Square, about 50 soldiers chased a group of stone-throwing youths outside. The protesters shouted ″with blood and soul we will redeem the martyrs,″ Arab news reports said.
Despite the violence, tourists said they were glad they came to the West Bank town.
″We are excited to be here, to see the places we have read about from childhood through Sunday school and Bible studies,″ said Charles W. Fleming, director of the Shiloh Baptist Church Senior Choir in Washington, D.C.
Seventy-six choir members joined the trip to Bethlehem to perform in a Christmas Eve choir concert.
In the occupied Gaza Strip, Christmas was marred by a series of clashes between Palestinians and Israeli soldiers.
In Jabaliya, a shantytown refugee camp, 17-year-old Raed Rashid Idmaida was fatally shot in the head after Palestinian high school students attacked soldiers with rocks, Arab reports said.
The army said the confrontation occurred when a routine patrol was confronted by a hail of stones.
″After one soldier was attacked physically by several protesters and there was danger to his life, the soldier was forced to fire at one of them and he (the protester) was killed,″ said an army spokesman.
Five other Palestinian teen-agers were wounded in the Jabaliya clash, and 11 others were wounded in other incidents in the occupied territories, according to Arab and media reports.
Also Sunday, 22-year-old Mohammed Naser Hwash died of a head wound sustained Dec. 16 during a clash with Israeli soldiers in the West Bank city of Nablus, according to Israel radio and an official at Muqassed Hospital in Arab east Jerusalem. The army said it was checking the report.
The new Palestinian fatalities raised to 336 the number of Arabs killed in the uprising. Fourteen Israelis have also died.
In east Jerusalem on Sunday, an Arab shopkeeper was critically wounded when two firebombs were thrown inside his store, Israel Television reported. The store was bombed for remaining open after noon in violation of a yearlong commercial strike, the TV said.
Moslem fundamentalists of the Hamas, or Zeal, movement published a leaflet Sunday calling for a day of ″confrontation″ with Israel, to mark the 41st anniversary since the founding of an armed Palestinian movement by Abdel Kader Husseini. Hamas is particularly powerful in Gaza.