- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 5, 2000

JERUSALEM A 9-year-old Palestinian boy became the 61st casualty in nearly a week of Israeli-Palestinian fighting when he was shot through the chest late yesterday at Netzarim Junction in the Gaza Strip, where fierce clashes raged for hours.

The violence there and in the West Bank continued even as Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat met in Paris to seek an end to the killing.

Two other Palestinians were killed and dozens were wounded in a day that began quietly but turned violent in the afternoon. Several Israeli soldiers were hurt in the fighting and an Israeli civilian was injured in a shooting attack on a bus outside Jerusalem.

The same menacing scenes that have unfolded daily since Friday played out at confrontation points in the West Bank and Gaza: Palestinian crowds charged Israeli positions, most armed with stones but some with automatic rifles, while Israeli troops answered with tear gas, rubber bullets and live ammunition.

Nowhere was the fighting as ferocious as at Netzarim Junction, where hundreds of Israeli soldiers guard an isolated Jewish settlement of just 400 residents in an area otherwise controlled by Palestinian police.

In quieter times, Israeli and Palestinian policemen patrol the Netzarim area jointly under terms of an almost forgotten peace deal reached seven years ago. Their headquarters at Netzarim exist almost side by side.

But in the past few days, Israel has fired missiles from helicopter gunships at the Palestinian positions to prevent gunmen from using them to strike at Israelis. To people on both sides of the conflict, the sequence is already familiar a flash of light in the sky, a long whistle and the crash of the rocket hitting cement.

Israelis and Palestinians continued blaming one another for the violence, which began a day after a high-profile visit last week by opposition lawmaker Ariel Sharon to Jerusalem's Temple Mount, which both Muslims and Jews embrace as a holy site.

"We hope very much that as a result of the summit [in Paris], the right orders will be given to the Palestinian side, allowing the area to quiet down," said Israeli Army Chief Shaul Mofaz, adding that his troops would hold their fire if Palestinians stopped the assaults.

But a Palestinian security chief accused Israel of using a show of force to try to wring political concessions from Mr. Arafat.

"They wanted to make us kneel [by using] live ammunition and rockets. But this will not change anything," said Mohammed Dahlan, head of the Preventive Security Service in the Gaza Strip.

"This will make us more determined in our stance," he told Reuters news agency.

Other Palestinian leaders said the clashes would not end soon. The radical Islamic organization Hamas set tomorrow as a Day of Rage, calling for confrontations with Israeli troops after midday prayers.

Again, the unrest spread from the West Bank and Gaza to Arab areas inside Israel, with a protest in the mixed Jewish-Arab town of Jaffa turning violent. Police sealed off Jaffa's main road and arrested several protesters who threw stones at cars, burned tires and smashed shop windows.

The violent outburst by Arab Israelis has alarmed many Israelis more than the much fiercer clashes in the West Bank, which have interrupted the peace process intermittently since it began almost a decade ago.

Unlike Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, most of which Israel is ready to cede in exchange for peace, Arab Israelis are citizens of Israel and will remain so even after a permanent peace accord.

The Israeli Arab minority, which accounts for about 18 percent of Israel's population, has long complained of what it says is its second-class status.

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