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Mideast buries child victims

Shalhevet Pass and Oriya
Jewish settlers are burying 10-month-old Shalhevet Pass, pictured here with her mother, Oriya  

JERUSALEM (CNN) -- Two children on either side of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are being buried on Sunday.

Jewish settlers are burying a 10-month-old girl killed by sniper fire while Palestinians are burying an 11-year-old boy shot during clashes with Israeli forces.

The funerals mark the end of one of the bloodiest weeks since the Palestinian intifada began last September.

Israeli forces Sunday arrested six members of Force 17 -- the security group responsible for protecting Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat - at a checkpoint between Palestinian and Israel controlled territories.

Israel launched military attacks against Force 17 bases during the week, saying intelligence reports indicated the group was implicated in the escalating violence.

Jewish settlers had said they would not bury the baby -- killed on Monday -- until Israel captured the Palestinian-populated hill from where the gunfire originated.

While Israel has not met the demand, the baby will be buried in Hebron to give her family the usual seven-day Jewish mourning period before the Passover holiday.

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The funeral comes a day after Palestinians buried six people killed in clashes with Israeli security forces.

Tens of thousands of Palestinians marched in the funeral processions. Five of them died in street battles in Nablus on Friday and one was killed in Ramallah as Palestinians marked "Land Day," commemorating the deaths of six Arabs 25 years ago while protesting land confiscations in northern Israel.

Several hundred others were wounded on Friday, and clashes continued on Saturday as several people were reported wounded at two border crossings outside Gaza.

Friday's violence punctuated one of the bloodiest days yet in the six-month-old Palestinian uprising.

It capped a week that included three bombings in Israel that Israeli leaders blamed on Yasser Arafat's Palestinian Authority and a round of retaliatory helicopter and artillery attacks aimed at targets connected to Arafat's elite Force 17 police unit.

The Palestinian Authority called Israel's crackdown "a brutal and shameful crime," and many Palestinians now believe Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has abandoned the peace process and is ready to wage war against them.

Sharon says he will talk peace only after Palestinians stop the violence.

U.S. President George W. Bush urged restraint on both sides, saying Arafat in particular must move to stop the violence. But U.S. State Department officials distanced themselves from Israel's clampdown as well.

Father
A Jewish settler carries a rifle while pushing his daughter in Hebron on Saturday  

At least 375 Palestinians have been killed. Israeli officials say that 69 Israeli Jews, 13 Israeli Arabs and a German have also died in the six months of violence that began on September 28.

The week included suicide bombings, air strikes, and threats and counter-threats from politicians.

But following the deaths of two Israeli teen-agers on Wednesday, killed by a suicide bomber as they waited for a bus to take them to seminary school, Israel struck back and launched its raids on targets in the West Bank and Gaza.

The Israelis said they had evidence that Force 17 was involved in recent violence, but the Palestinians say such allegations are untrue.

After the attacks, Arafat pledged that the Palestinian uprising would continue until the Palestinian flag flies "above the walls of Jerusalem," and Israeli Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer warned that Israeli troops would enter Palestinian-controlled territory if necessary to end the violence.



RELATED STORIES:
5 killed in protests on Palestinian 'Land Day'
March 30, 2001
Arafat vows continued uprising against Israel
March 29, 2001
Israeli Cabinet minister says attack 'defensive'
March 28, 2001
Two Israeli teens, bomber die in suicide attack
March 28, 2001
Sharon: Lack of security becoming 'unbearable'
March 27, 2001
Bombs rock Jerusalem as Arab summit convenes
March 27, 2001

RELATED SITES:
The Israeli Prime Minister's Office
Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Palestinian National Authority
Israel Defense Forces

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