Settlers Protest Israel´s Pullout Plan (AP) By MARK LAVIE JERUSALEM, ISRAEL 01/31/05 2:12 PM)
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JERUSALEM - Jewish settlers and their supporters protested outside
parliament for a second day Monday against Israel´s planned
withdrawal from Palestinian territories, demanding that Prime
Minister Ariel Sharon hold a referendum on dismantling settlements
The protest came as a de-facto truce between Israel and
took hold. Top security officials from the two sides meet Monday to
finalize a handover of security control of West Bank towns to the
Testing the informal cease-fire, a 10-year-old
Palestinian girl was
fatally shot in the head at a United Nations school in Gaza´s Rafah
refugee camp, Palestinian and U.N. officials said.
circumstances of Noran Deeb´s death were unclear. She was
standing with other chidren in the courtyard for afternoon assembly
when she was shot. The U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees said the
fire came from an area under Israel military control, but could not
say who fired the shots. The area is a frequent flashpoint of
violence between Israeli troops and Palestinian
Palestinian witnesss blamed Israeli soldiers. The
said it checked the claims and found two cases in which soldiers
opened fire, but neither was in the area where the girl was
shot. "According to our examination, the girl apparently was not
shot by Israeli army gunfire," the military spokesman´s office
An Israeli military official, speaking on condition of
said Palestinian revelers had been shooting into the air in the
area, celebrating their return from the Hajj pilgrimage to
Residents, however, said there were no such
celebrations, and Dr.
Ali Moussa, the physician who treated the girl, said she was hit by
a bullet directly in the face. But he said initial reports by
paramedics that she had been killed by tank fire were
Shortly after the shooting, two mortar rounds landed in
settlement of Neve Dekalim in Gaza, causing no injuries but damaging
a home, the Israeli army said. The militant group Hamas said it
fired five mortar rounds at a Jewish settlement in Gaza in
retaliation for Deeb´s death.
Sunday´s rally, which drew an
estimated crowd of 130,000, was one of
the largest in Jerusalem´s history. Hundreds of demonstrators wore
orange shirts, the color adopted by opponents of the Gaza
withdrawal, and some pledged to try to disrupt the evacuation of
Gaza settlements, set for this summer.
"Ariel Sharon, you have
no mandate to expel Jews," Effie Eitam, a
pro-settler lawmaker, told the crowd.
Several hundred settlers
spent the night in tents outside
parliament, and resumed their demonstration Monday.
the protest was unlikely to deter Sharon, who has
stabilized his coalition government with backers of the withdrawal.
With a recent drop in violence, Sharon has also stepped up contacts
with the Palestinians.
Sharon and Palestinian leader Mahmoud
Abbas were heading toward
their first summit since mid-2003, when Abbas was prime minister.
Feb. 8 was emerging as the date for the summit, and Secretary of
State Condoleezza Rice will arrive in the region two days
In the latest signs of warming ties, Israeli Defense
Mofaz met Monday with Palestinian negotiator Mohammed Dahlan, their
second in three days, Israeli officials said.
said the men were expected to complete preparations
for handing over security control to the Palestinians in several
West Bank towns and a possible Israeli release of hundreds of
Palestinian security prisoners.
Palestinian police commanders
said they were told to prepare to take
control of four West Bank cities - Ramallah, Qalqiliya, Tulkarem and
Jericho - as early as Wednesday. However, Israeli officials said no
steps would be taken ahead of Thursday´s meeting of the Security
Palestinian security officials said they were told by
counterparts that troops also would take down some roadblocks,
rolling back security measures imposed after violence erupted in
Abbas has won a commitment from militant groups
to stop attacks, and
Israel has scaled back military operations in return, though a
formal cease-fire has not been declared yet.
official said Sunday that Israel would grant an amnesty
to West Bank fugitives, ending its relentless search for dozens of
militants suspected of planning or executing attacks. In four years
of conflict, dozens have been killed in Israeli raids and many more
have been arrested.
The amnesty would allow Abbas to fulfill a
key campaign pledge made
before he handily won a Jan. 9 election to replace the late Yasser
Arafat - that fugitives would be allowed to reintegrate into
Palestinian society with no fear of Israeli reprisal.
army chief met Monday with senior officers to discuss the
scope and timing of a Palestinian prisoner release, another key
Palestinian demand, defense officials said.
Abbas wants some of
the approximately 7,000 Palestinians held by
Mofaz said Sunday that prisoners who killed
Israelis could not be
freed in the near term, but he left open the possibility that
criteria could be eased in the future. (© 2005 The Associated Press
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