Palestinian boy killed in funeral procession

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The Independent Online
A 12â¿“yearâ¿“old Palestinian boy was killed and 11 people wounded during a funeral today. Witnesses said the shots came from an Israeliâ¿“controlled area after Palestinians fired in the air during the burial.A 12â¿“yearâ¿“old Palestinian boy was killed and 11 people wounded during a funeral today. Witnesses said the shots came from an Israeliâ¿“controlled area after Palestinians fired in the air during the burial.

Israel's army said it was checking the incident.

In the Israeli working–class town of Or Yehuda, a pipe bomb exploded today, injuring four people lightly. Police said the bomb was probably planted by Palestinian militants – the third such blast in a little over a day.

A man claimed responsibility on behalf of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a radical PLO faction.

On Sunday, a Palestinian militant detonated a bomb near a bus in the town of Kfar Saba, near Tel Aviv, killing himself and an Israeli doctor and wounding 50 people.

The Islamic militant group Hamas claimed responsibility, initially saying the assailant came from Gaza City and then that he was from the West Bank town of Nablus.

On Sunday evening, a bomb hidden in a bag placed near an intersection in the Israeli port city of Haifa exploded, lightly injuring three policemen.

The Israeli army said today it has arrested a Palestinian man from West Bank who was carrying an explosive device. Israel radio said the suspect was on his way to the Jewish settlement of Har Bracha on Sunday and that the device was set to be detonated by a cellular phone.

Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat said Monday that he opposes "any and every operation targeting civilians, whether they are Palestinians or Israelis."

Israel has held the Palestinian Authority indirectly responsible for the attacks, saying Palestinian security forces are doing nothing to rein in the militants.

Islamic militants have carried out nearly a dozen bombing attacks in Israel since the outbreak of Israeli–Palestinian fighting seven months ago, and said they would set off more explosions.

In the Palestinian town of Khan Yunis, about 1,500 Palestinians joined the funeral procession of a Palestinian police officer who died of injuries sustained during an Israeli rocket attack last week.

During the burial ceremony at the Khan Yunis cemetery, adjacent to the Jewish settlement of Neve Dekalim, several dozen gunmen fired in the air as a sign of respect.

In response, long bursts were fired from the direction of the settlement which is guarded by an Israeli army post, witnesses said, adding that they did not see who was shooting. Mourners quickly scattered, many seeking shelter in abandoned buildings.

A 12–year–old Palestinian boy was killed and 11 Palestinians were wounded, including one person who was in critical condition, according to doctors at Khan Yunis Hospital.

Israel, meanwhile, said that while it had serious reservations about an Arab proposal for restarting Israeli–Palestinian peace talks, it has not rejected it outright.

The Palestinians have endorsed the Jordanian–Egyptian plan.

Visiting Belgian Foreign Minister Louis Michel discussed the initiative on Sunday with Israeli leaders, and met Arafat in the West Bank town of Ramallah. Belgium assumes the presidency of the European Union in July. Michel said after the meeting that he believed Israel and the Palestinians were still interested in a peace deal.

Under the plan, Israel and the Palestinians would implement a cease–fire deal brokered in October by then–U.S. President Bill Clinton. Previous attempts to restore calm have failed, with each side holding the other responsible.

The Arab initiative would also require Israel to announce a complete freeze of construction in Jewish settlements. Once peace talks begin, the two sides would try to conclude a treaty within half a year, according to the proposal.

Sharon's adviser, Raanan Gissin, said Israel was still studying the plan, and was told by Jordanian officials that they were willing to make modifications.

Gissin said Israel wants a clear guarantee from the Palestinians that attacks on Israel will stop. Israel wants to conduct negotiations on a long–term interim agreement, not a full peace treaty, he said. The demand for a complete freeze in settlement construction is "totally unacceptable," Gissin added.

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