NETZARIM, Gaza Strip (AP) _ Caught in Israeli-Palestinian cross fire, a father and son clung together behind a metal barrel, barely visible in the smoke, as shots flew overhead. ``The child, the child!'' the father yelled, helplessly waving his arm in the air.

The boy screamed in panic as shots hit a wall just inches over their heads. Seconds later, 12-year-old Mohammed Aldura was fatally struck in the abdomen. He loosened his grip on his father and slumped over.

Seriously wounded, the father, Jamal, shook with convulsions, rolled his eyes skyward and lost consciousness. He was hospitalized in Gaza and was expected to recover, family members said Saturday.

An ambulance driver was killed trying to rescue them, and a Palestinian police officer also died in the clash.

The three killed in Netzarim were among 12 Palestinians who died Saturday, in the bloodiest clashes on the West Bank and Gaza Strip since 1996. More than 500 Palestinians were injured, the Palestinian health minister said. On Friday, six were killed and more than 200 injured, authorities said.

The fighting followed a hardline Israeli opposition leader's Thursday visit to a disputed Jerusalem shrine, sacred to both Jews and Muslims.

Saturday's victims included three Palestinians killed in the West Bank town of Ramallah, and six who died in the West Bank town of Nablus, including two policemen and a teen-ager.

Khaled Bazyan, 16, left home Saturday morning to join a rock-throwing protest against Israeli soldiers. His mother, Alia, feared the worst. She sent her younger son Mohammed to bring him back, but Khaled wouldn't listen.

The boy, who dropped out of high school last week to take a job at a car wash, was killed when Israeli soldiers crouching behind jeeps traded fire with masked Palestinian gunmen in an olive grove south of Nablus.

His mother kissed Khaled goodbye when his body was brought to her home before burial, lying on a stretcher and wrapped in a Palestinian flag.

``Last night he was playing soccer in the room with his brother and I warned him not to break the furniture. He wouldn't stop and was happy,'' she said, dressed in black and breaking into tears.

Khaled was only a toddler when his teen-age neighbors were dying in the Intefadeh, the 1987-1993 Palestinian uprising against Israeli military occupation.

Although an Israeli-Palestinian peace treaty remains elusive, Khaled's parents never imagined their oldest son would become another victim in the conflict.

``When the Israeli army withdrew from Nablus we felt safe,'' the father, Adli said. ``But today we felt that the occupation is still here in our land.''