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Israelis, Arabs Clash in West Bank

May 15, 1999

RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) _ Stone-throwing Palestinian demonstrators clashed today with Israeli troops firing tear gas in the West Bank town of Ramallah. Four people, including a cameraman, were wounded by rubber bullets.

Palestinian police formed a human chain and managed to keep most of a crowd of about 150 protesters away from Israeli troops at the northern entrance to the town, near the Jewish settlement of Beit El.

Clouds of black smoke from tires set ablaze by the protesters hung over the scene, not far from the spot from where an Israeli soldier was dragged from a car and beaten by a Palestinian mob in December.

The stone-throwers broke off from a march by several hundred Palestinians mourning the 51st anniversary of Israel’s founding _ which Palestinians refer to as ``the catastrophe″ _ and protesting the impasse in the peace process. Israel celebrates its independence day according to the Hebrew calendar.

Elsewhere, Palestinian protesters scuffled with Israeli troops outside the northern West Bank town of Nablus. No arrests or injuries were immediately reported.

The demonstrators gathered near the village of Brukin, where Jewish settlers had moved in mobile homes to make a yeshiva, or Jewish seminary. The Palestinians have bitterly protested what they call land grabs by settlers.

Settler leaders acknowledge they have been carrying out a campaign of expansion in recent weeks in possible anticipation of a change in government after Monday’s national elections. The settlers believe that populating more West Bank land now will make it more difficult to cede territory to the Palestinians later.

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