Israeli opens fire on Palestinian stone-throwers
Incident highlights tensions on day of U.S.-Israeli meeting
April 7, 1997
Web posted at: 1:18 p.m. EDT (1718 GMT)
KHARBATA, West Bank (CNN) -- A Jewish settler opened fire on
a crowd of Palestinian students and others Monday in this
West Bank village after Palestinians reportedly pelted his
van with stones. Two Palestinians were wounded, one
The man got out of his vehicle and fired his assault rifle,
shooting an 18-year-old in the chest, seriously wounding him,
then shooting a 27-year-old in the leg. Settlers said he had
an M-16, and as he fired it he held a handgun in his mouth. He drove away after the incident.
Israeli police arrested a Jewish settler suspected of the attack later in the day.
A large Israeli police contingent promptly arrived in
Kharbata, which is still under Israeli security control, to
inspect the scene of the confrontation. Villagers said he
provoked them into attacking his vehicle by driving through
the village every day, even though a bypass was built
specifically for Jewish settlers.
The violent settler-Palestinian encounter comes as Israeli
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visits the United States
for a meeting with President Bill Clinton to discuss
restarting the peace talks.
It also follows three weeks of almost daily
protesters and Israeli troops that have gripped the area
since Netanyahu sent in bulldozers to begin a controversial
Jewish housing project in largely Arab East Jerusalem.
A symbolic load of ice
A group of Israeli peace protesters still holds out hope that
the Israeli government can turn things around by severely
curtailing settler activity. They trucked a load of ice to
the West Bank to symbolize, they said, how settlements are
Settlers turned on them angrily. "Shove off!" yelled one man.
"This is our place. We've bought the land. We belong here."
Whether by design or not, the construction in progress in
East Jerusalem has become a symbol of the fundamental issues
in the Palestinian-Israeli dispute.
The question is not only who claims rights to Jerusalem, but
how big a Palestinian state on the West Bank would be, and
especially whether its capital could be in East Jerusalem.
Some analysts say the Israeli construction there is designed
to deny Palestinian aspirations in Jerusalem, and to thwart
the evolution of a full-fledged Palestinian state.
"The plan, the idea, the concept is to isolate Jerusalem from
the Palestinian hinterland, and to say -- at the very least -
- if we agree to some kind of mini-Palestinian state, it
won't be with a capital in Jerusalem," said Ha'Aretz
columnist David Landau.
And Palestinian leaders say they could never accept such an
arrangement. "We will not accept at all that Jerusalem is not
part of the Palestinian state and is not the capital of the
Palestinian state," said Palestinian Cabinet Minister Faisal
For now, the construction goes on at an accelerated pace.
"Stopping, or suspending the building ... under the pressure
of violence or threats of violence by the Palestinian
Authority, could not be interpreted in any other way than
surrendering to these threats," said Jerusalem Mayor Ehud
It's become not only a strategic battle over Jerusalem, but
also a test of political will on both sides.
Correspondent Jerrold Kessel contributed to this report.
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