- The Washington Times - Friday, October 6, 2000

JERUSALEM A fresh round of violence shattered yet another truce in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, where Palestinians and Israelis traded shots yesterday at the usual flash points just hours after an inconclusive mediation effort by Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright.
Israel pulled its tanks from the entrance to Palestinian cities in the West Bank and Gaza in compliance with an understanding reached Wednesday in Paris, at a meeting among Mrs. Albright, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.
Though fighting was less intense yesterday than in the previous week, at least two Palestinians died.
Israeli security officials said they were girding for what might be a bigger outburst today at the Jerusalem religious shrine where the violence began a week ago.
Mr. Arafat's demand for an international inquiry into the Israeli-Palestinian violence prevented the understandings reached Wednesday night from being drafted as a formal cease-fire.
Mr. Barak, who has rejected any outside probe, left Paris yesterday morning and refused to attend a second summit later in the day in Egypt. But he pledged to honor the oral agreement so long as Palestinians did not shoot at Israeli troops.
"The Palestinians pledged to the Americans to take certain steps. The Americans expect them to honor their pledges," Mr. Barak told reporters at news conference late yesterday.
Mrs. Albright, meanwhile, called for an outside fact-finding committee to investigate the shootings in which scores of Palestinians have been killed.
Palestinians say the violence erupted as a result of a visit last week by right-wing opposition leader Ariel Sharon to the Jerusalem site known as the Temple Mount to Jews and the Noble Sanctuary to Muslims.
At the site, two elaborate mosques sit on the ruins of the ancient Jewish Temple, destroyed in 70 A.D.
Israel accuses Mr. Arafat of orchestrating the uprising in order to win international sympathy, which had been on the wane since the Palestinian leader rejected Israeli peace proposals at Camp David in July.
Events yesterday suggested Mr. Arafat might have less control on the ground than Israelis say.
Mr. Arafat gave the OK for Palestinian officers to meet with their Israeli counterparts in the morning to coordinate the truce.
But by the afternoon, Palestinian youngsters had scampered back to confrontation points in the West Bank and Gaza, throwing stones and gasoline bombs at Israeli positions.
"First of all, we have to end by all means these very dangerous attacks against our people," Mr. Arafat told reporters in Gaza.
At the Netzarim junction in Gaza, the scene for some of the worst clashes since the fighting erupted, an Israeli officer shot dead a Palestinian as he scaled an army post and tried to rip down an Israeli flag.
Another Palestinian died of wounds he received on Monday, bringing the death toll in a week of violence to 68. All but three of the dead were Arabs.
Palestinians say the lopsided casualty figures prove Israel is using excessive force and shooting to kill. Israel insists its soldiers open fire only when their lives are in danger.
Twice this week at Netzarim, Israeli soldiers have shot dead children, including the televised slaying of 12-year-old Mohammed Aldura, who had accompanied his father on a shopping excursion and got caught in the cross fire.
The Israeli army, in an unusual move, sent reporters by e-mail an aerial picture of the gun battle in which Mohammed was killed. It includes arrows pointing out Palestinian positions where gunners were firing on Israeli troops.
Mr. Aldura, Mohammed's father, speaking to reporters from his hospital in Jordan, accused Israel of misrepresenting the incident.
The Islamic Hamas group, which has been largely quiet during the protests, has set today, the Muslim Sabbath, as a Day of Rage against Israel, and called on its supporters to take to streets after midday prayers.
Israeli police said they would send reinforcements to the Temple Mount, where tension was expected to run high.
At the Red Sea resort of Sharm el Sheik, Mr. Arafat and Mrs. Albright briefed Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on Wednesday's talks in Paris, despite Mr. Barak's absence.
Israeli officials said Mr. Barak saw no point in attending the meeting unless Mr. Arafat was ready to sign a formal cease-fire and publicly call on his people to stop rioting.

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