Israeli troops shoot dead second child in two days

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The Independent Online

Israeli troops killed an 11-year-old boy in the West Bank town of Tulkarem yesterday, the second fatal shooting of Palestinian children in two days.

Israeli troops killed an 11-year-old boy in the West Bank town of Tulkarem yesterday, the second fatal shooting of Palestinian children in two days.

Ahmed Abu Baker, the director of the Tulkarem hospital, said the boy, Abdel Karim Salameh, had been hit in the head by a live bullet. He added that a second boy had been wounded in the leg by a rubber-coated steel bullet.

Arab and Israeli witnesses agreed that the boys had been in a crowd throwing stones at an army vehicle and that soldiers had opened fire to disperse them. Military sources denied that the patrol fired live ammunition. However, rubber bullets – meant for crowd control – can be just as lethal when fired from close range.

In Gaza, Israeli troops fired warning shots to stop about 150 Palestinians and foreign supporters marching on an army checkpoint guarding Jewish settlements. Tamer Ziara, a local television cameraman working for Associated Press, was treated for a gashed head after being hit by a ricochet.

On Saturday, a girl of nine was killed in the Khan Younis refugee camp as she stood by her home. Military sources claimed troops at a nearby outpost came under Palestinian fire and responded in kind. They assumed the girl was hit in crossfire.

These latest clashes occurred after Palestinian infiltrators shot dead four yeshiva seminary students in the Otniel settlement south of Hebron on Friday night and a suicide bomber tried unsuccessfully to blow up a Jerusalem disco.

Ariel Sharon, the Prime Minister, responded by ordering the army to step up its hunt for Palestinian fighters, including assassinations. "The fight against terror must be increased because our target is to harm the terrorists, their helpers and operators. All necessary measures must be taken," he told the cabinet.

But Elyakim Rubinstein, the Attorney General, warned ministers that so-called "targeted killings" should be used only as a last resort after all attempts to arrest suspects had failed.

Shaul Mofaz, the Defence Minister, boasted that Israel had been "very successful" in preventing attacks. He reported that the army and Shin Bet has arrested more than 1,200 men over the past two months.

Palestinian sources accuse Mr Sharon's government of sabotaging Egyptian efforts to persuade all Palestinian armed groups to stop attacking civilians. Israel doubts whether talks, due to begin in Cairo in the next week, will succeed.

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