Palestinian Anger At Arafat

An Israeli teenager was killed and a Palestinian boy wounded in violence overshadowed by infighting among Palestinians that could pose a challenge to Yasser Arafat's rule.

In Gaza City, police bolstered their guard outside the home of the Palestinian Authority's military intelligence chief after Palestinians battled each other over reports of a crackdown on militants.

About 20 Palestinian gunmen, including members of Arafat's Fatah faction and the Islamic militant group Hamas, shot at Moussa Arafat's home in Gaza City Monday night. Bodyguards fired back, aiming over the attackers' heads, witnesses said.

Nobody was hurt, but the incident was among the strongest shows of anger toward Palestinian security officials.

Arafat returned to Gaza Tuesday from Abu Dhabi, where a Palestinian official said he cut his trip short because of the internal violence. Later, though, another official denied that Arafat had shortened his trip.

An official of the Palestinian Popular Resistance Committees, a group that has spearheaded the Palestinian uprising, said the intelligence chief's home was attacked because the Palestinian High Security Council had begun arresting militants.

A Palestinian Authority official said some activists had been detained on "disciplinary grounds." The official accused the militant group Hamas of inciting Monday night's violence.

Also Tuesday, Palestinian security forces handed over to Israel the bullet-riddled body of an Israeli teenager who Israeli police believe was killed by Palestinians in the West Bank.


Learn more about the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

They said the 18-year-old, from the settlement of Pisgat Zeev, which Israel regards as a neighborhood of Jerusalem, may have been kidnapped Monday night after visiting a friend and taken to the nearby West Bank town of Ramallah.

Elsewhere in Gaza, Palestinian witnesses said Israeli soldiers shot an 11-year-old Palestinian boy in the chest, wounding him, during a clash at Rafah.

Late Tuesday, Israel troops and Palestinian gunmen traded fire north of the West Bank city of Ramallah, the army said. No injuries were reported. Hospital officials told Reuters that Israeli soldiers shot and wounded two Palestinian children near their house in the town of Betounia when an exchange of fire erupted with Palestinian gunmen late Monday.

At least 492 Palestinians, 129 Israelis and 13 Israeli Arabs have been killed in the 10-month wave of violence.

The latest violence overshadowed fresh international efforts to secure an end to the bloodshed that followed a Palestinian uprising 10 months ago after peace talks stalled.

European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana, who met Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Foreign Minister Shimon Peres Tuesday, said he was eager for a cooling off peiod to begin, as called for in the peace plan devised by a committee headed by former Sen. George Mitchell.

"The security situation on the ground is not totally calm but I think that in the last period of time some improvement has been made," Solana said.

Tawfiq Tirawi, head of the intelligence service in the West Bank, said the Palestinian Authority planned to demand Wednesday that Israel arrest more than 50 Israelis involved in "barbaric crimes" against the Palestinian people.

Palestinians blame settlers for last week's shooting deaths of a 3-month-old baby and two of his relatives, killings claimed by a shadowy Jewish extremist group with roots in West Bank settlements but support elsewhere as well. Also, some Jewish settlers have beaten Palestinians and burned or damaged their property, after settlers have been targets of roadside shootings or stonings by Palestinians.

Israel dismissed the list as propaganda.

"First let them take care of their own," said Sharon aide Ranaan Gissin, "and then they can preach to us."

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