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2 Reported Killed, 60 Wounded, In Palestinian Protests Of Assassinations With

January 15, 1991

2 Reported Killed, 60 Wounded, In Palestinian Protests Of Assassinations With PM-PLO-Assassinations, Bjt

JERUSALEM (AP) _ Palestinians rioted in the occupied lands today to protest the slayings of the PLO’s deputy leader and two other officials in Tunisia. Arab reports said army gunfire killed two demonstrators and wounded at least 60.

The army confirmed 13 people were wounded and said it was checking other reports.

The worst clashes occurred in the Gaza Strip, once home to Salah Khalaf, the most prominent of the three PLO officials slain Monday night in a Tunis suburb.

Throughout the seaside strip and the occupied West Bank, Palestinians raised black flags of mourning and staged marches. Muslim preachers read verses from the Koran over mosque loudspeakers, and church bells pealed.

Police fired tear gas to break up a protest in the Arab area of Shufat in Jerusalem.

The army imposed curfews on the West Bank cities of Nablus and Jenin and in more than a dozen refugee camps regarded as Palestine Liberation Organization strongholds in both occupied territories. It declared Gaza a closed military area, barring entry to journalists.

Many Palestinians blamed Israel for the slaying of the 57-year-old Khalaf along with two other PLO officials, security chief Hayel Abdel-Hamid and Abu Mohammed al-Omari, Khalaf’s aide.

″Who else is behind the killing ... but the Israelis? Israel chose the timing as the rest of the world is busy with the gulf crisis,″ said al- Omari’s brother, Ahmed, speaking from his Gaza City home.

Israel denied involvement in the killings. Defense Minister Moshe Arens told ABC-TV: ″The answer is definitely no, we had nothing to do with it. I think it was probably the work of some dissident faction in the PLO.″

Israeli sources have acknowledged Israel was responsible for the 1988 assassination outside Tunis of PLO deputy commander Khalil Wazir. Government officials never confirmed Israel was behind his killing.

Khalaf, known as Abu Iyad, masterminded the murders of 11 Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics in 1972.

A senior Palestinian commander said the gunman Monday night, Hamza Abu Zid, was a former member of Abu Nidal’s terrorist PLO faction, sworn enemies of PLO chairman Yasser Arafat. Abu Zid reportedly broke with Abu Nidal six months ago and was hired as Abdel-Hamid’s bodyguard.

As news of the assassinations spread, protests began thoughout the territories seized by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war.

In Gaza City’s Rimal neighborhood, where Khalaf lived in the late 1940s and 1950s, soldiers fired on stone throwers, fatally shooting 19-year-old Mansour Sheiha, Arab hospital officials said.

A 22-year-old Palestinian, Abdel Obeidi, was shot and killed in clashes with troops in the West Bank village of Yamoun, Palestinian reports said.

The deaths brought to 795 the number of Palestinians killed by Israelis during the 37-month uprising against occupation. At least 333 others have been slain by fellow Arabs, most as suspected Israeli informers. Fifty-seven Israelis also have died in the violence.

At least 50 Palestinians were shot and wounded today in the Gaza Strip and 10 were wounded in the West Bank village of Qabatiya, where hundreds of residents defied a curfew.

Shifa Hospital in Gaza City said it treated 30 people who were beaten and 20 who inhaled tear gas.

In Gaza City’s Rimal quarter, about 200 people went to express their condolences to Midhet Khalaf, a cousin of Abu Iyad. A sign at the house said: ″The masses of Gaza mourn the martyr of the revolution, Abu Iyad.″

Khalaf, who was born in Jaffa in what is now Israel, was the PLO’s counterintelligence chief and a founder of the PLO’s mainstream Fatah group along with Wazir and Arafat.

Abdel-Hamid, the PLO’s security chief, was born in the town of Safed, now in northern Israel. He and his family fled to Syria during the 1948 Middle East war.

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