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Palestinian police move to restore order in Hebron

March 24, 1997
Web posted at: 3:56 p.m. EST (2056 GMT)

HEBRON, West Bank (CNN) -- Hundreds of Palestinian police formed a human chain and fired into the air to separate crowds of Palestinians from Israeli security forces in Hebron Monday.

It marked the first time that Palestinian authorities have moved decisively against protesters during the most recent round of unrest, which entered its fourth day.


A L S O
Mideast peace process: dead, or merely ailing?

"If you don't stop throwing stones, the Jews will attack you," one officer told the crowd over a megaphone.

Speaking to reporters in Sri Lanka on the latest stop of a week-long international tour, Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat rejected suggestions that he return home for a face-to-face meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

He also dismissed as "silly" suggestions made Sunday by Netanyahu that he and other Palestinian leaders had given a "green light" to the Hamas terrorist who bombed a cafe Friday in Tel Aviv.

Tear gas in Bethlehem; Palestinians rally in Gaza

In the West Bank town of Bethlehem Monday, Palestinians clashed with Israeli soldiers. Witnesses said Israeli soldiers fired tear gas and rubber bullets at several dozen Palestinians who had attacked troops with stones.


Palestinians clash with Israelis in Bethlehem
movie icon 2.3M/22 sec. QuickTime movie
997K/22 sec. QuickTime movie

The clash erupted outside of Rachel's Tomb, an Israeli-controlled enclave in the autonomous Palestinian town.

A Palestinian man was also seriously wounded by Israeli soldiers in the Gaza Strip. Israeli military officials said the shooting occurred after two Palestinians refused to stop at a checkpoint. The other man was arrested.

Also in Gaza, about 1,000 Palestinians held a rally to call for the release of Arab prisoners held by Israel. Supporters of Hamas, the fundamentalist Muslim group that claimed responsibility for the suicide bomb attack in Tel Aviv, reportedly attended. movie icon (347K/8 sec. QuickTime movie)

Israeli military official expects more attacks

Tensions inside Israel and the Palestinian-controlled areas in the West Bank and Gaza have been high since Friday's explosion killed three Israeli women and the suicide bomber in Tel Aviv.

Israeli troops patrolled shopping centers and parks Monday and enforced a blanket closure of the borders between Israel and the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Maj. Gen. Moshe Yaalon, head of Israeli military intelligence, said he expects more terrorist attacks on Israeli targets in the coming days, unless Arafat does more to rein in militant Islamic groups.

He also accused the Palestinian authority's West Bank security chief, Jibril Rajoub, of organizing the unrest that has swept Hebron, Bethlehem and other Palestinian areas. Rajoub denied the charge, saying he didn't "play with people's blood."

Levy calls for Netanyahu-Arafat meeting

Israeli Foreign Minister David Levy called Monday for a meeting between Arafat and Netanyahu. Arafat dismissed Levy's suggestion, saying the foreign minister "hasn't the right to give me orders."

Israeli President Ezer Weizman met Monday with Yasser Adbed Rabbo, the Palestinian information minister. Afterward, Rabbo said it was "far too early" to talk about a summit between Arafat and Netanyahu.

Netanyahu defends decision to build

The latest round of unrest was sparked by a decision by Netanyahu to proceed with construction of housing for Jewish settlers in a historically Arab section of Jerusalem.

In an interview Sunday with CNN, Netanyahu defended that decision, saying he would not let terrorists dictate Israel's policies through threats of violence.

While stopping short of breaking off all talks with the Palestinians, Netanyahu said "the first condition for peace" would be for the Palestinians to crack down on terrorism.

While in Islamabad Sunday speaking to a group of Islamic leaders, Arafat accused Netanyahu of destroying the peace process and said Israel was bowing to "extremist religious parties, who we know are hostile to the peace process and to the rights of the Palestinian people."

Arafat also said Jerusalem "is a trust given to us by God to rescue it from the settlements."

Reuters contributed to this report.

 
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