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>PD Jan. 2, 1997, Vol. 5, No. 1
Israeli Soldier Opens Fire in Hebron
By Patricia Golan (VOA-Jerusalem)
An Israeli soldier opened fire in a crowded market in Hebron
Wednesday, wounding seven Palestinians -- two of them seriously.
The attack occurred just as Israeli and Palestinian negotiators
were said to be ready to reach a deal to give most of the town
Witnesses say the soldier simply walked up to the edge of the
crowded market and opened fire with his M-16 automatic rifle before
being disarmed. He was dressed in full uniform and wore a skullcap
-- the mark of an Orthodox religious Jew.
Shortly after the attack, a Palestinian witness, Mazan Bana,
described the scene to Israel's army radio station: "And he started
shooting in all directions...one Israeli soldier with military
clothes he's shooting there. When he finished the full magazine,
three soldiers came and hugged and let him down to the ground and
they took his gun and finally they arrested him."
Local television cameramen captured on videotape the Israeli
soldier overpowering the gunman, holding him on the ground until
other troops came to arrest him.
The attack was reminiscent of the 1994 Hebron massacre in which an
U.S.-born settler from the nearby "Kiryat Arba" settlement, dressed
in an Israeli army uniform, opened fire in the "Tomb of the
Patriarchs," killing 29 Palestinian worshipers before survivors
beat him to death.
The gunman has been identified as Noam Friedman, a resident of
the West Bank Israeli town of Maale Adumim, near Jerusalem.
Friedman, who has been in the regular army for several months,
was not serving in Hebron. Israeli officials say he said he was
trying to stop the emerging agreement on Hebron and stop a troop
Before his military service, Friedman was a student at a Jerusalem
yeshiva. He was expelled from the yeshiva before completing his
studies. Friends and teachers of Friedman told Arutz-7 Radio that
in the past, he had severe behavioral problems and was referred to
The agreement in which Israel is to hand over most of Hebron to
Palestinian self-rule is said to be nearly completed. Groups
opposed to a peace accord -- both Jewish and Palestinian -- have
threatened violence to prevent the negotiations from succeeding.
Israel Defense Minister Itzhik Mordechai, touring the scene in
Hebron, said the shooting will not sabotage the agreement.
"We are continuing the negotiations with the Palestinians. I hope
that in very short time we'll complete the agreement and after the
agreement will be signed, the army is ready to redeploy in a very
Palestinians Negotiators say the shooting is proof that Israeli
troops must withdraw immediately from the city. The Hebron
settlers' spokesman says the shooting proves the need for
Israel's total control of the city. If Palestinian police had
been deployed, he says, there could have been clashes between the
PLO and Israelis after such an incident.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned the shooting
as a criminal act. "The agreement that we have been laboring under
for several months has been designed to prevent precisely such acts
of violence...and that is why we are committed, and no crime will
stand in our way of doing so."
But Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Yasir Arafat have
yet to agree to a summit to initial the long-awaited Hebron
agreement. President Clinton's special Middle East envoy met again
Wednesday with both Netanyahu and Arafat. There are hopes that the
top Israeli and Palestinian negotiators will resume their talks in
Jerusalem to try to bridge the last remaining gaps in the
Clinton condemned the outbreak of violence and called Arafat to
express his condolences. A White House statement says the president
condemns the shooting as a cowardly act -- clearly designed to make
it more difficult to conclude an agreement on Israeli deployment
The statement says the best answer to the incident would be for
Israeli and Palestinian officials to close the remaining gaps and
move forward with the hard work of forging a durable peace.
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