- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 30, 2001

JERUSALEM Tens of thousands of Palestinians marched in the West Bank and Gaza Strip yesterday in support of their uprising against Israel. Three Palestinians were killed and dozens wounded in confrontations with Israeli troops.
The renewed fighting raised doubts about prospects for a truce sought by the United States. Each side accused the other of breaking promises made this week in cease-fire talks, including a meeting by senior security commanders on Friday.
The Palestinians said Israel hasn't started pulling back troops, as promised, and has used excessive force. Israel said the Palestinians haven't made a serious effort to stop violent protests.
More security talks were set for today, but both sides said expectations were low. Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres was expected to meet with two senior Palestinian negotiators, Israel TV said.
The United States wants an end to the fighting, which entered its second year yesterday. Washington is trying to win Arab and Muslim support for military action against Islamic militants suspected of being behind the terror attacks against New York and Washington earlier this month.
It was not clear whether tensions would ease once the Palestinians' anniversary commemorations ended, or whether yesterday's protests signal strong popular opposition to a truce.
In the past, Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat has been reluctant to go against the public mood in the Palestinian areas. On the other hand, in the past two weeks, he has gone out of his way to be seen as supportive of U.S. policy.
Already, there have been signs of open dissent. On Friday, about 150 Palestinians opposed to a cease-fire threw stones and firebombs at an empty Palestinian police station in Gaza's Rafah refugee camp, a persistent trouble spot.
In some areas, Palestinian policemen tried to contain protests, though in other cases they did not interfere.
Yesterday's events began when hundreds of young Palestinians, many still carrying their school bags, threw stones at three army posts in the Gaza Strip.
Israeli troops fired tear gas and live rounds at the stone-throwers, killing two youths, ages 14 and 17, said Moawiya Hassanein, the director of Shifa Hospital in Gaza City. Sixty-nine Palestinians, ranging in age from 13 to 20, were wounded by gunfire, including 10 who were in critical condition, Mr. Hassanein said.

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