Cease-fire fails to stop bloodshed in Mideast

By GREG MYRE

Associated Press

JERUSALEM – A fragile cease-fire agreement failed to halt a spate of fierce gunbattles today that saw two Palestinians killed and an Israeli policeman critically wounded in a Jerusalem firefight. The 20th day of fighting pushed the death toll past 100.

Shooting broke out before President Clinton announced the truce at a summit in Sharm el-Sheik, Egypt, and it raged on afterward. Israelis and Palestinians expressed skepticism that the accord would take hold, and the militant Islamic group Hamas said it was not bound by the deal.

“We will continue fighting,” declared Hamas leader Sheik Ahmed Yassin, expressing a view many Palestinians appeared to share.

Israel, however, said it would wait to see if the unrest eased in the hours after the agreement was reached in Egypt by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

“I hope that from (today) evening we will see the scope of the violence decrease,” said Danny Yatom, security adviser to Barak.

An Israeli official traveling with Barak said the two sides had also reached a secret security deal, a claim the Palestinians denied. The CIA, which has been involved in monitoring security arrangements, would help implement the agreement, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. He did not give details.

Shortly after the truce was announced, Palestinian gunmen opened fire on the south Jerusalem neighborhood of Gilo, a scene of repeated attacks. A policeman was shot in the chest and critically wounded, and several homes were raked with gunfire.

“There is a lot of shooting now. Our window was hit again,” said a tearful Anna Strekma, whose house was hit in a previous shooting.

Two Israeli tanks, deployed in the neighborhood following an earlier Palestinian attack, returned fire from mounted machine guns, and Israeli security forces quickly evacuated about 200 Jewish residents from their hilltop homes. Jerusalem Mayor Ehud Olmert said the shooting “was the first test of the cease-fire and it was definitely a failure.”

The Israeli military ordered Palestinians to evacuate their homes in nearby neighborhoods, across a small valley, where the gunfire has originated. If the Palestinian gunmen keep shooting at Jewish neighborhoods, “we will fire both from the tanks and from attack helicopters,” Israeli Maj. Gen. Yitzhak Eitan said.

Tensions also were running high in the Gaza Strip, where hundreds of Palestinians threw rocks and firebombs at an Israeli military checkpoint in morning clashes that left 10 injured. During renewed fighting in the afternoon, a Palestinian policeman was killed by a bullet to the chest, hospital doctors said.

Before the truce was declared, Palestinian farmer Farid Nasrara, 28, was killed by Jewish settlers near the West Bank town of Nablus when he was hit in the abdomen by automatic rifle fire, according to witnesses and doctors.

Palestinian witnesses said the shooting was unprovoked. But Yehoshua Mor-Yosef, a settler spokesman, said the farmers first attacked with knives and iron bars, and the settlers fired warning shots in the air before aiming at the Palestinians. Israeli police arrested two settlers.

A third Palestinian died today from a gunshot wound to the head suffered two weeks ago, putting the overall death toll at 102, most of them Palestinians.

Under the terms of the truce, Barak and Arafat were both required to make a public statement denouncing violence – but neither did so in the first few hours after they returned.

“The important thing after the talks yesterday and today is the implementation,” Arafat said upon reaching the Gaza Strip. “We expect that the implementation will be exactly as we agreed upon.”

Barak, speaking while he was still in Sharm el-Sheik, sounded a similar note. “The test will be in the results,” he said.

The three weeks of fighting are the worst since the two sides began peace negotiations in 1993, and in the current climate of bitterness and mistrust, Palestinians and Israelis both predicted that the chances for a genuine cease-fire were slim.

“Clinton, Barak and Arafat are lying to themselves if they think they made a truce,” said Daoud Mughtar, a 58-year-old Palestinian in Bethlehem. “I’ll believe it when I see it.”

Amos Geuta, the Jewish manager of a bakery, sounded equally pessimistic. “Barak was wasting his time there. In another day or two you will see, it will get worse.”

Copyright ©2000 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

Ariel Garcia, 4, was last seen Wednesday morning in an apartment in the 4800 block of Vesper Dr. (Photo provided by Everett Police)
How to donate to the family of Ariel Garcia

Everett police believe the boy’s mother, Janet Garcia, stabbed him repeatedly and left his body in Pierce County.

A ribbon is cut during the Orange Line kick off event at the Lynnwood Transit Center on Saturday, March 30, 2024 in Lynnwood, Washington. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
‘A huge year for transit’: Swift Orange Line begins in Lynnwood

Elected officials, community members celebrate Snohomish County’s newest bus rapid transit line.

Bethany Teed, a certified peer counselor with Sunrise Services and experienced hairstylist, cuts the hair of Eli LeFevre during a resource fair at the Carnegie Resource Center on Wednesday, March 6, 2024, in downtown Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Carnegie center is a one-stop shop for housing, work, health — and hope

The resource center in downtown Everett connects people to more than 50 social service programs.

Everett mall renderings from Brixton Capital. (Photo provided by the City of Everett)
Topgolf at the Everett Mall? Mayor’s hint still unconfirmed

After Cassie Franklin’s annual address, rumors circled about what “top” entertainment tenant could be landing at Everett Mall.

Foamy brown water, emanating a smell similar to sewage, runs along the property line of Lisa Jansson’s home after spilling off from the DTG Enterprises property on Tuesday, March 5, 2024, in Snohomish, Washington. Jansson said the water in the small stream had been flowing clean and clear only a few weeks earlier. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Neighbors of Maltby recycling facility assert polluted runoff, noise

For years, the DTG facility has operated without proper permits. Residents feel a heavy burden as “watchdogs” holding the company accountable.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Stanwood in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Stanwood man gets federal prison for selling fentanyl on dark web

In 2013, Christerfer Frick was sentenced to nine years for trafficking drugs. He began selling online upon his release in 2020.

Traffic idles while waiting for the lights to change along 33rd Avenue West on Tuesday, April 2, 2024 in Lynnwood, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Lynnwood seeks solutions to Costco traffic boondoggle

Let’s take a look at the troublesome intersection of 33rd Avenue W and 30th Place W, as Lynnwood weighs options for better traffic flow.

Dan Templeman speaks during a forum lead by The Daily Herald on housing affordability at the Mukilteo Library on Thursday, April 11, 2024 in Mukilteo, Washington. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
At Herald forum, experts affirm Housing First model, despite downsides

At the Mukilteo Library, panelists discussed drug-contaminated housing and lengthy cleanup efforts in Snohomish County.

Molbak's Garden + Home in Woodinville, Washington closed on Jan. 28 2024. (Photo courtesy of Molbak's)
Molbak’s, former Woodinville garden store, hopes for a comeback

Molbak’s wants to create a “hub” for retailers and community groups at its former Woodinville store. But first it must raise $2.5 million.

A fire at a home near Alderwood Mall sent one neighbor and one firefighter to the hospital. (Photo provided by South County Fire)
Officials: Residents returned to burning Lynnwood home to rescue dogs

Five people and six dogs were displaced in the Thursday afternoon house fire, according to South County Fire.

Featuring a pink blush over a yellow background, WA 64 combines qualities of Honeycrisp and Cripps Pink (aka Pink Lady) for a firm, crisp, sweet and tart bite. A naming contest for the new apple runs through May 5, 2024. (Photo provided by Washington State University)
Hey Honeycrisp, this new breed of apple needs a name

Enter a naming contest for WA 64, a hybrid apple with the same baby daddy as Cosmic Crisp.

Police respond to a wrong way crash Thursday night on Highway 525 in Lynnwood after a police chase. (Photo provided by Washington State Department of Transportation)
Lynnwood woman, 83, killed in wrong-way crash following police pursuit

Deputies said they were chasing a man, 37, south on Highway 525 when he swerved into northbound lanes, killing an oncoming driver.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.