THE KILLING, probably by Islamic militants, of a teenage Jewish settler girl and an Israeli soldier, darkened the mood among Israelis and Palestinians yesterday, after a week full of new promises from leaders on both sides for a bright and hopeful future.
News of the deaths on Thursday sparked instant cries for revenge from Jewish settlers, and a spate of ugly anti-Arab violence in Hebron where hatred continues to fester unabated, five months after the massacre in which Baruch Goldstein, a Jewish settler, slaughtered 29 Palestinian worshippers.
Kiryat Arba settlers spilt out into the Arab streets of Hebron yesterday, blocking the Jerusalem-Hebron road with burning tyres, throwing rocks at houses and spraying salt on vineyards. The settlers smashed windows in several houses and torched a Palestinian-owned car in Hebron. Palestinian cars were also stoned near Jericho.
As commonly happens when settlers go on the rampage, it was the Palestinians of Hebron who were confined to their homes, as a curfew was imposed throughout the town, where about 100,000 Arabs live with 5,000 militant Jewish settlers in their midst. No curfew was imposed on the Jewish settlers, most of whom are armed.
Just 48 hours after the departure from the Gaza Strip of Yasser Arafat, chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organisation, the military wing of Hamas, the Islamic Resistance Movement, ended its brief ceasefire.
A leaflet issued by the group's gunmen, Izzedine al-Qassem, said that attacks would continue against Israeli soldiers and civilians. Hamas said earlier: 'Our land demands to be perfumed by more blood.'
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