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Marches, flag burnings mark Intifada anniversary

The anniversary of the current Palestinian uprising has been marked across the Middle East
The anniversary of the current Palestinian uprising has been marked across the Middle East  


(CNN) -- Six Palestinians were killed Friday in new fighting, and a seventh died of wounds, as Palestinians observed the first anniversary of the al-Aqsa Intifada, the Palestinian uprising.

Meanwhile, protestors across the Middle East chanted anti-Israel slogans and burned Israeli and American flags in a show of support for the year-old uprising.

In Israel, Palestinian security forces said three of the slain Palestinians, members of the Popular Resistance Group, were killed by an Israeli tank shell in Rafah, an area in southern Gaza on the border with Egypt.

Other Palestinian sources in Rafah told CNN that the three were trying to plant an explosive device when they were fired upon by an Israeli army tank, causing an explosion. Israeli army officials said they were checking on the report and had no immediate comment.

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Israel moves to reopen Rafah crossing  
 

The Israeli Defense Ministry said Friday that Israeli troops may reopen the Rafah crossing Sunday and ease closings that restrict Palestinians, depending on the level of violence.

Earlier Friday, three other Palestinians were killed in fighting elsewhere in what Israeli security forces called a fire fight had occurred. Palestinian sources said Israeli tanks shelled an area of Hebron.

The clashes came less than 24 hours after Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat and Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres met at the Gaza airport to reaffirm their support for a cease fire

Other nations across the Middle East appeared just as tense.

In south Lebanon, about 3,000 people, some carrying rifles, marched through the Ain El-Hilweh refugee camp. They burned effigies of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and a mock Israeli tank bearing a United States flag.

"We want our land to burn the feet of the Israelis!" Reuters reported some protesters shouting.

The refugees mourned nearly 600 Palestinians who have been killed during the uprising, which began a year ago when Sharon, then leader of Israel's Likud party, visited the al-Aqsa Mosque, a site considered holy in both Muslim and Jewish faiths. At least 169 Israelis have also been killed in the uprising.

Protestors: Uprising offers hope

The Intifada offered Palestinians their sole hope for regaining their land and escaping the camps, refugees said Friday.

"It is the one thing that could win our homes back," 58-year-old Khalid Sobhi told Reuters, speaking from his home in Beirut's Mar Elias refugee camp. "The persecution here is unbelievable. All you can do is hope that Palestine is returned in your lifetime."

Sheikh Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah, former spiritual leader of Lebanon's Hezbollah paramilitary group, urged Palestinians to push on with the uprising. Addressing hundreds of worshippers in Beirut's Shi'ite southern suburbs during Friday prayers, Fadlallah said supporting the uprising showed disdain for U.S. support of Israel and its war on terrorism following the attacks on New York and Washington.

"The Intifada sets the Middle East aquiver with the rejection of U.S. policy which backs Israeli terrorism, and it confounds the global coalition in its war on so-called terrorism," he said.

Burning flags, chanting crowds

In Iraq, a huge crowd in Baghdad's Parade Square waved Palestinian and Iraqi flags, burned an effigy of Sharon, and listened to a ruling Baath party official urge the Palestinians to continue their uprising.

Participants chanted slogans calling for the destruction of Israel and for Iraqi President Saddam Hussein to "liberate Jerusalem" and "blow up Tel Aviv."

In Iran, a crowd of several thousand in Tehran chanted "Death to Israel" and "Death to America" during a march. The marchers burned U.S. and Israeli flags during a rally in front of the Palestinian Embassy in central Tehran.

"Israel commits crimes, and America gives it support," shouted the demonstrators, who had gathered earlier for weekly prayers at the Tehran University campus.

In Syria, about 1,000 Syrians and Palestinians marched through Damascus behind a brass band of the Greek Catholic Church.

In Yemen, around 6,000 people surged out of mosques and into the center of the capital Sanaa after Friday prayers, marching in support of the Intifada.

"There is no God but Allah, and no enemy but the Jews," the crowd chanted. "Oh Islamic rulers, no negotiation and no surrender."



 
 
 
 


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RELATED SITES:
• Palestinian Authority
• Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs
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• Israel Defense Forces
• United Nations

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