Mon, Mar 04, 2002 - Page 1 News List

Palestinian sniper kills 10 in attack on army checkpoint

AP , JERUSALEM

A Palestinian sniper opened fire on Israeli soldiers and civilian cars at an army checkpoint in the West Bank, killing 10 people, the army and hospital officials said. Elsewhere, an Israeli and two Palestinians were reported killed in separate incidents, and a third Palestinian died of wounds suffered earlier.

The latest violence -- which drew demands in Israel for the deposing of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat -- came just 12 hours after a Palestinian suicide bomber blew himself up in a crowded ultra-Orthodox Jewish neighborhood of Jerusalem Saturday evening, killing nine Israelis, including several children.

Israel responded with a series of attacks against Palestinian targets in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and Palestinian officials said at least two Palestinians, both policemen, were killed and a number of civilians hurt. F-16s circled overhead in Gaza and the West Bank, and Israeli gunboats moved close to the Gaza coast, Palestinians said.

The Al Aqsa Brigades, a militia linked to Arafat's Fatah movement, claimed responsibility for both Saturday's bombing in Jerusalem and yesterday's shooting in the West Bank near the Jewish settlement of Ofra.

The militia -- which had said it would take revenge for Israel's assault last week on the West Bank refugee camps of Balata and Jenin, in which 23 Palestinians were killed over a three-day period -- circulated a leaflet saying yesterday's shooting was in response to Israeli army actions in the two camps.

In the Balata camp, where a man died yesterday of wounds suffered in last week's clashes, a crowd of about 3,000 people marched, chanting "Revenge, revenge!" Exchanges of fire were also reported around the Jenin camp.

Israel blamed Arafat for the latest attacks, and Dan Naveh, a Cabinet minister, said it showed "there is no alternative but to put an end to Arafat's rule."

"I think the best way to ensure the safety of Israeli citizens is that there will no longer be a Palestinian Authority headed by Arafat," he said.

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