Newsletter : 6fax0926.txt
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Publisher\Editor Don Canaan
Sept. 26, 1996 V4, #178
All the News the Big Guys Missed
Four Palestinians Dead, 300 Injured
By Al Pessin (VOA-Jerusalem)
The hospital in the Palestinian town of Ramallah, just north of
Jerusalem, reports four Palestinians have been killed and more than
300 injured Wednesday in clashes with Israeli security forces. The
violence erupted during protests against an Israeli excavation
project in Jerusalem's Old City.
In one incident, Israeli troops exchanged fire with Palestinian
police officers just outside Ramallah and then pursued them into
the city. Israel says several of its soldiers were slightly
It was a day of rock throwing and rubber-bullet battles between
protesters and security forces in both Jerusalem and several West
In an incident in Ramallah, which escalated to involve live
ammunition. The director of the Ramallah hospital, Dr. Shawqi Harb,
gave the toll. "We have lots of wounded and it's a mess. We are
employing the disaster plan. Things are relatively organized. But,
of course, the people are very emotional."
The Palestinian leader, Yasir Arafat, was described as grim and
angry. "It is escalation from the Israeli government against our
people. No one can accept what is going on."
In one incident, Israel says Palestinian police officers opened
fire at Israeli soldiers at a checkpoint south of Ramallah. The
Israelis returned the fire, and witnesses say they pursued their
attackers into Ramallah. Israel denies those reports -- which, if
true, would be the first Israeli incursion into autonomous
Palestinian territory on the West Bank.
Demonstrators clashed with Israeli troops and police in Jerusalem
for a second day, Wednesday.
It is an innocuous sound, from an innocent-looking revolving
gate. But this gate is at the end of a tunnel Israeli
archaeologists have excavated under Jerusalem's Old City, and its
opening Tuesday sparked two days of Palestinian protests and many
clashes with Israeli security forces -- some of them bloody.
Outside the Damascus Gate to the Old City, Israeli mounted police
rode their horses into a group led by the senior Islamic mufti of
Jerusalem and Palestinian Finance Minister Mohammed Nashashibi
"They came here, with the horse, and with the stick they are
beating me because I am demonstrating peacefully against a criminal
act of Netanyahu."
Jerusalem Police Commander Ariyeh Amit defended the police tactics.
"There is no question of a peace demonstration because this was
not the intention of those who came here and we shall take all the
measures to bring peace back to the streets. We cannot let any
demonstration happen in Jerusalem without license of the police."
In another confrontation, Palestinian demonstrators formed a wedge
and tried to break through Israeli police lines, in an effort to
make a path to the Old City for Palestinian Council member Hanan
Ashrawi. After a shoving match, the police allowed Ashrawi and a
few associates to pass. She and other Palestinians are angry that
Israel excavated an underground tunnel in the Old City, near
Islam's third holiest shrine, Al-Aqsa mosque, and ending on the Via
Dolorosa, where Christians believe Jesus carried the cross.
"The protest in Jerusalem is basically to point out Israeli
unilateral measures attempting to annex east Jerusalem, to change
its character, to claim exclusive possession, to destroy
Palestinian, Christian and Muslim sites, and to impose and create
facts that would undermine the whole peace process."
Standing at the controversial new tunnel exit Wednesday,
Jerusalem's mayor, Ehud Olmert, disputed the charge. "We don't have
to re-enforce our control. We don't have to take control. We are in
control. And we make no secrets of it. We never did. This is our
The mayor says the new tunnel opening will make it easier for
tourists to visit the excavations adjacent to Judaism's holiest
site, the Western Wall, and will deliver large crowds to Arab-owned
shops near the new tunnel exit. And he says the excavations are
far from the Al-Aqsa mosque or any other Islamic sites.
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