- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 22, 2002

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip An 11-year-old Palestinian girl died of a gunshot wound yesterday in the Gaza Strip, where Israeli troops reinforced a blockade aimed at deterring shooting attacks against Jewish settlers.
Later, an Israeli soldier was lightly injured in Gaza when a Palestinian militant threw grenades as he tried to infiltrate the Jewish settlement of Morag, settlers and rescue officials said. The Palestinian was shot and killed.
In a separate incident at the settlement of Kfar Darom, soldiers shot a Palestinian who approached the community but did not know his condition, Israeli radio reports said. The army did not immediately comment on either incident in Gaza.
The Palestinian girl died in Rafah Hospital while undergoing surgery for a gunshot wound to the leg, physicians said. Her family said she was hit by a bullet that came from the direction of an Israeli army outpost while she was walking home from school.
Army Radio said soldiers were firing in the area in response to a grenade thrown at the outpost, which guards Morag, just north of Rafah.
The army continued to maintain checkpoints along major roads connecting the north and the south of Gaza Strip yesterday, making them impassable to Palestinians. The army said the operation was undertaken because of an escalation in shooting attacks, the latest on Friday, in which a rabbi was killed.
The army also said it had arrested two Islamic Jihad activists who were implicated in terrorist attacks and set off explosions that destroyed their homes. Troops also arrested two Palestinians wanted by the army.
At the end of the operation, the troops withdrew from the Deir el-Balah area. They had entered the town Friday but did not find an activist of the Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade, a militia linked to Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement.
The German Foreign Ministry said a German member of a European Union observer team was shot at as he drove through the West Bank town of Jenin but was not injured. Palestinian sources said the German was targeted because the gunmen thought he was an Israeli.
Diplomats and aid workers have been fired on several times since the Palestinian uprising began. Three U.N. aid workers, one of them a foreigner, were killed by soldiers in recent Israeli military operations against militants, and two foreign observers were killed by a Palestinian gunman in the West Bank.
A Palestinian police officer was shot in the leg by a member of the militant group Islamic Jihad north of the Gaza town of Beit Hanoun, Palestinian security sources said. The injured officer and other police had stopped a car carrying the militant and other Islamic Jihad members that was heading to the Israeli border, presumably to shoot mortar shells.
In Ramallah, meanwhile, an adviser to Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat expressed disappointment with senior diplomats meeting in the United States for not calling for an immediate withdrawal of Israeli troops from Palestinian territory.
Nabil Abu Rdeneh also said representatives of the "Quartet" the United States, the United Nations, Russia and the European Union who met in Washington on Friday, buckled to Israeli pressure by not issuing a "road map" for peace.
"Delaying the implementation of the road map came after clear Israeli demands to delay it," Mr. Abu Rdeneh said. "I believe this position will help Israel continue its escalations and aggression."

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