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U.S. pushes for diplomatic end to Mideast fighting
German killed in Israeli rocket attack in Mideast
CNN Correspondents Jerrold Kessel and Tom Mintier contributed to this report.
JERUSALEM (CNN) -- The end of nearly two months of bitter violence between Palestinians and Israelis seemed to slide further away on Thursday after Israel launched a series of pre-dawn rocket attacks on West Bank towns and a German resident was killed during a clash on the outskirts of Jerusalem.
Despite the continuing violence, U.S. diplomats pressed efforts to bring the two sides together to stop the killing -- at least 240 people are dead since the violence began September 28, all but a handful of them Palestinians.
U.S. Mideast envoy Dennis Ross, in the region for the funeral of Leah Rabin, widow of peace activist and former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, held separate meetings with both Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak.
"Both men realize there is no military solution to the problem," Ross told CNN on Thursday after leaving the meeting with Arafat.
But neither side appeared ready to agree to a three-way summit.
"There are no negotiations," Barak said on Israel Radio. "There are no discussions about renewing negotiations and first of all, we have demanded that first there must be a dramatic change in the violence."
"It is too early to talk about such meetings before a complete halt for Israel's aggression against our people and before the end of Israel closure on Palestinian cities," said Arafat adviser Nabil Abu Rdainah.
Fatah offices targeted
The Israel Defense Forces launched overnight missile attacks on offices of Arafat's Fatah movement in Hebron, Tulkarm and Salfit, the army said, as well as a munitions depot in Jericho.
Israeli forces also targeted a fifth town -- Beit Jala, on the outskirts of Jerusalem -- after they said Palestinians fired on the nearby Jewish settlement of Gilo from that Palestinian town. Witnesses said Harry Fischer, a 68-year-old German married to a Palestinian woman, was hit by shrapnel and killed as he tried to help wounded neighbors.
The helicopter rocket attacks came a day after Fatah called for an uprising against Israel, and a day after a senior Palestinian official said that Arafat had called on Fatah activists to stop shooting at Israelis in Palestinian-controlled areas.
Fatah is a core faction within Yasser Arafat's Palestine Liberation Organization. It had called on Palestinians to begin an uprising on Wednesday and drive Israelis from land occupied in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war.
Despite Arafat's orders, however, the killing continued on Wednesday. The Palestinian Red Crescent said eight Palestinians were killed -- three in Gaza, one in Jericho, and four in towns in the West Bank -- and six were critically wounded.
Israeli diplomats said they were unaware of Arafat's cease-fire order and instead referred to Wednesday as a "day of violence."
Senator-elect Clinton meets with Barak
Meanwhile, first lady and Senator-elect Hillary Rodham Clinton and members of the U.S. Middle East peace team met with Barak and Israeli President Moshe Katzav on Wednesday, Israeli diplomats in Washington told CNN.
Mrs. Clinton was in Israel leading the U.S. delegation to the Leah Rabin's funeral for Leah Rabin.
Arafat broadcast to Israel a videotaped eulogy for Mrs. Rabin.
"I put with all the respects, a flower from Palestine on your coffin, renewing my commitment for peace," he said.
The eulogy was not broadcast on Palestinian television.
Leah Rabin died Sunday after a long battle with cancer.
Reuters contributed to this report.
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Palestinian Red Cresent Society
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