Israeli, Palestinian children buried; Israel arrests Arafat guards
JERUSALEM (CNN) -- Funerals were held Sunday for two young victims of violence between Israelis and Palestinians, while politicians on both sides spoke out about the arrest of six Palestinian guards by Israeli troops.
In the West Bank town of Hebron, hundreds gathered to bury a 10-month-old Jewish infant.
Israeli officials said the baby was killed last week by Palestinian sniper fire from the Palestinian-controlled hillside that overlooks their settlement. The girl's father was shot and wounded in the same attack.
Within hours after the funeral, violence broke out in Hebron when Palestinians fired from the hillside, and Israel Defense Forces responded with shelling. No one was reported wounded.
In Ramallah, West Bank, mourners carried the body of an 11-year-old Palestinian boy through the streets. He died Sunday from injuries he suffered two weeks ago during clashes with Israeli soldiers in the village of Deir Nizam.
The IDF also on Sunday arrested six members of the elite Force 17, the personal security guard unit of Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat. The arrests took place at a Palestinian checkpoint on the border between Palestinian-controlled territory and Israeli-controlled territory.
Palestinian Cabinet member Ziad Abu Zayyad said the arrests were an attempt by Israel to provoke a military confrontation.
"There are thousands of members of the 17th army," Zayyad told CNN, "and if the Israelis start arresting them and kidnapping them, they are pushing them actually to acts against Israeli soldiers in [a] more massive way."
He said the Palestinians do not want a military confrontation, "and we will not allow the Israelis to push us toward that."
But Israeli Cabinet member Dore Gold blamed Force 17 for the almost-daily violence in the region, saying the arrests were justified.
"The forces that are shooting at Israelis day in and day out are not renegade units," Gold told CNN. "These are mainstream Palestinian organizations belonging to Yasser Arafat. ... They are involved in mortar attacks against Israel and Israeli settlements."
Both sides expressed their willingness to move forward with the peace process. Zayyad called for intervention of a third party to help reach a "balanced solution."
"This could be the United States," Zayyad suggested, "because it has a very special responsibility for international security and peace, and we have great hope that the new administration in Washington will continue its efforts to bring a solution and to bring peace and stability to this region."
Gold said the key was cooperation from Arafat, whom Gold accused of using violence as a "negotiating tool" in the conflict.
"We want the peace process to succeed," Gold said. "In order for it to succeed, you, Mr. Arafat, must move away from terrorism, shift this from a conflict process to a peace process. And then we're ready to engage diplomatically."
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