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Israeli Troops Kill Palestinian Teen

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Associated Press Writer

October 4, 2002, 2:50 PM EDT

JERUSALEM -- Israeli troops shot and killed a Palestinian teenager and gravely wounded a 12-year-old in West Bank violence Friday, while police fired stun grenades in the main mosque compound in Jerusalem after a few Muslim worshippers threw rocks that fell on Jews praying at the Western Wall below.

Fifteen-year-old Mohammed Zeid was standing outside his house watching other youths hurl rocks at an Israeli army patrol in the village of Nazlat Zeid when the troops opened fire, witnesses said. They said Zeid was hit in the thigh by a stray bullet. He died in a hospital in the nearby West Bank town of Jenin.

The Israeli military said troops seeking to impose a curfew on the village were attacked by rioters and fired in the air to disperse them. It confirmed that a youth was killed.

In the city of Nablus, hospital officials said 12-year-old Ibrahim Madani was in serious condition with a gunshot wound to the head. Witnesses said troops shot him near the Askar refugee camp, where he was walking in breach of an Israeli military curfew. The army said it was unaware of that incident, but it said an Israeli soldier was seriously wounded by Palestinian gunfire in Nablus.

In Jerusalem, police said about 50 officers entered the Al Aqsa Mosque compound, known to Jews as the Temple Mount, the most hotly contested site in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The police fired stun grenades to disperse several dozen youths who had thrown rocks toward officers at an entrance to the compound. Some rocks fell on Jews worshipping at the Western Wall below.

No injuries or damage were reported.

Police said Islamic authorities calmed the crowd and Muslim worshippers began to leave the area -- the holiest site in Judaism and the third-holiest in Islam.

Both Arabs and Israelis have acted with relative restraint at the complex in recent months, despite an uprising by Palestinians against Israel that began Sept. 28, 2000, with Arab protests over a visit to the site by now-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

Leaflets distributed earlier in Arab parts of Jerusalem had urged worshippers at Friday prayer services to demonstrate against a U.S. congressional measure that urged recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

Palestinian witnesses said they heard no chants or slogans from the small number of youths who threw stones immediately after the end of prayers. The Al Aqsa mosque preacher on Friday, Yousef Abusnineh, had denounced the U.S. measure, although President Bush had said he would not enact the clauses on Jerusalem as he signed the bill on Monday.

In the Gaza Strip, about 3,000 protesters marched through the Jabalya refugee camp on Friday against the U.S. legislation and 2,000 others marched through nearby Gaza City. Several hundred masked men, some wearing headbands reading "martyr in waiting," took part in the Jabalya march.

Meanwhile, there was a flurry of diplomatic activity aimed at ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres met in Tel Aviv with U.S. ambassador Daniel Kurtzer and other representatives of the so-called quartet of Middle East peacemakers, which also include the European Union, United Nations and Russia. The European Union announced that top foreign affairs and defense official Javier Solana would begin a Mideast tour on Sunday.

The Israeli defense ministry said Solana would meet Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer in Jerusalem on Sunday. An EU official said Solana would also visit Sharon in Jerusalem, Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in his West Bank headquarters, Jordan's King Abdullah in Amman and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in Cairo.

The foreign ministry said Peres told Kurtzer, U.N. envoy Terje Roed-Larsen, Russia's Andrei Vdovin and EU representative Christian Jouret that he favored a speedy renewal of talks with the Palestinians aimed at a cease-fire and restarting stalled peace negotiations.

At Arafat's Ramallah headquarters, adviser Nabil Abu Rdeineh, called on the quartet to press Israel to obey a recent Security Council resolution calling for Israel to withdraw from Palestinian cities,

Palestinian officials said Finance Minister Salam Fayad would leave for Washington Sunday for talks with Secretary of State Colin Powell, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, members of Congress and international financial officials.

Copyright 2002, The Associated Press


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