- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 4, 2002

RAMALLAH, West Bank Israeli troops yesterday fired on a taxi traveling on a West Bank road closed to Palestinians, killing a 95-year-old woman, hospital officials said. The woman is believed to be the oldest victim in 26 months of fighting.

The shooting occurred when Fatima Mohammed Hassan and another woman, Kifaya Ra'fat, 41, were in the back seat of a taxi as it reached a checkpoint on the outskirts of Ramallah, Mrs. Ra'fat said.

"The soldiers were running toward us, shooting in all directions. They started to hit the windows of the car" with their weapons, she said from her hospital bed in Ramallah.

After breaking the windows, the soldiers retreated and then began shooting at the vehicle from a distance, said Mrs. Ra'fat, who was shot in the thigh.

Mohammed Wahdan, a doctor at Ramallah's hospital, confirmed that Mrs. Hassan "was killed after being shot by one bullet in the back."

An Israeli military source said a Palestinian car was moving fast on a road closed to Palestinians and soldiers fired warning shots into the air. When the car failed to stop, the soldiers fired at its wheels, the source said, adding that he had no information on casualties.

Mrs. Hassan's daughter, Aisha, 58, said her mother was born in 1907. Patricia Smith of Palestine Monitor, a group that tracks Palestinian casualties, said Mrs. Hassan is the oldest Palestinian killed in the fighting. The age of the previous oldest victim was not known.

Since Israeli-Palestinian violence erupted in September 2000, 1,951 persons have been killed on the Palestinian side and 684 on the Israeli side.

Israeli troops took over Ramallah and most other West Bank population centers several months ago in an effort to stop suicide bombings and shooting attacks in Israel. The military also controls roads between the Palestinian towns.

In Hebron the only West Bank town where Jewish settlers and Palestinians live in proximity army officials distributed notices yesterday telling Palestinian residents that the houses along the stretch where the Israelis were ambushed last month would be destroyed or taken over by the army.

Palestinian Cabinet Minister Saeb Erekat said the seizure notices reflected "the determination of this Israeli government to continue settlement activity."

Warrants signed by Maj. Gen. Moshe Kaplinski, head of the army's central command, said the land would be taken and buildings destroyed "to prevent terror attacks and attacks against civilians and army troops."

It said land seized would be owned "exclusively by the army."

Twelve Israeli soldiers and guards were killed Nov. 16 when Palestinian gunmen opened fire at worshippers walking along the road connecting the Jewish settlement of Kiryat Arba, just outside Hebron, and the Tomb of the Patriarchs about a half-mile away inside the city.

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