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Mideast deaths strain truce

The widow of an Israeli killed in an ambush Monday hugs her son during the funeral Tuesday in the West Bank settlement of Einav
The widow of an Israeli killed in an ambush Monday hugs her son during the funeral Tuesday in the West Bank settlement of Einav  


JERUSALEM (CNN) -- The fragile Middle East cease-fire is under fresh pressure after the deaths a day earlier of two Israeli settlers and a string of shootings in the West Bank.

A 20-year-old Israeli was shot in the neck and killed in an ambush in the West Bank, Israeli authorities said.

Earlier Jewish settler Dan Yehuda, 35, was killed and another was wounded in the West Bank near Nablus.

The latest death reported Tuesday morning was of a 15-year-old Israeli girl who died of wounds she suffered in a Palestinian suicide bombing outside a Tel Aviv disco on June 1.

Yevgenia Dorfman's death brought the total number killed by the bomber to 21. He also died in the blast.

Meanwhile the Palestine Red Crescent Society said that a 13-year-old who had been injured during a clash with Israeli soldiers Sunday night in Khan Yunis had died Monday night.

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There were also angry scenes at the funeral Monday of a 9-year-old Palestinian boy killed by a bullet in the chest fired by the Israeli army in Khan Yunis in Gaza, near a Jewish settlement.

The growing tension on both sides was shown by Israeli hardliners, who denounced Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's government for failing to take stronger action against the Palestinians in the face of growing violence.

"Enough restraint" shouted a furious crowd of 100 settlers outside Sharon's office in Jerusalem alongside the body of Danny Yehuda.

Ultranationalist Sharon cabinet minister Rehavam Ze'evi was shouted down as he tried to comfort Yehuda's family.

"A hundred days of grace (since Sharon took office) have passed," Daniela Weiss, a West Bank settlers' leader, told Israeli television.

In the Knesset Sharon rejected right-wingers demands to go to war saying it would be "a mistake of the first order from every perspective."

A statement from his office later in the day said: "... the violations of the cease-fire and the murderous attacks create an intolerable situation which will not allow Israel to maintain its current position over time."

"We demand from Yasser Arafat that he arrest immediately all the terrorists who are loose now," Avi Pazner, an Israeli government spokesman, said.

For his part, Arafat accused Israel of not carrying out its commitments to the current cease-fire between the Israelis and Palestinians.

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Palestinian children sit in a van with a window broken by a stone Palestinians claim was thrown by Israeli settlers in Nablus on Tuesday  

"We face Israeli escalation," Arafat said. "The siege has gotten worse and escalation of violence has increased. But our people are patient and willing to struggle."

Arafat made the comments in Jordan on Monday before a meeting of Arab League foreign ministers, who were in the Jordanian capital to follow up on support they pledged for the Palestinians in the Middle East conflict.

The ministers, representing eight Arab states and the Palestinian Authority, have been meeting periodically to search for ways to provide both financial and political support for the Palestinians.

Arafat told the representatives that he was not optimistic about the current state of the conflict, saying it was very dangerous and could spin "out of our control."

He said the cease-fire would not last on its own if Israel did not stop its settlement activities and does not lift the closure on Palestinian territories. He accused the Israeli army of protecting settlers who continue attacks on Palestinians.

Arafat appealed to the world community to put pressure on Israel to bring the cease-fire a step further and said he would like to see international observers oversee the implementation of the truce.

The last time the foreign ministers met, in May, they recommended that all 22 league members suspend political contacts with Israel as long as it continued its "aggression and occupation."

Arafat called the government of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon "war-crazed" and insisted it is not serious about resuming peace talks.

Israel, meanwhile, has allowed Palestinian traffic to flow freely on two key West Bank thoroughfares where Israeli troops previously maintained tight blockades.

Correspondents Rula Amin and Jerrold Kessel contributed to this report





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