Rockets Fall, Palestinians Demonstrate

Ad Feedback - JERUSALEM, Israel - Arab residents of Palestinian Authority- (PA) controlled cities in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) and in Jerusalem rallied against Israel's counter-terror operations in the Gaza Strip.

Palestinian sources reported that some 70 Palestinians were killed in heavy fighting over the weekend and more than 60 wounded. Twelve of the fatalities were civilians, including eight children, three women and two unarmed men.

In a rare show of solidarity Sunday, Palestinians affiliated with the PA's Fatah faction and others with Hamas carried their respective flags together in a demonstration in Ramallah.

Near the Israeli city of Har Adar just outside Jerusalem, Arabs set tires on fire, pelted Israeli border police with rocks and attempted to set a car on fire and push it through the community's gate. In several Jerusalem neighborhoods, Arabs threw rocks at Israeli police.

Shots were fired at the Jerusalem neighborhood of Gilo from the city of Beit Jala just outside Bethlehem, reminiscent of the second intifada (armed Palestinian uprising), when Fatah-affiliated Tanzim militia frequently targeted the neighborhood.

In a show of solidarity with Gaza residents, Arab business owners in east Jerusalem closed their doors, and teenage Arab girls marched down Salah al-Din Street near the Old City's Damascus Gate, carrying posters of shahids (martyrs, often homicide bombers).

In Hebron, where demonstrations deteriorated into rioting, IDF soldiers shot and killed a 13-year-old Arab youth as he tired to cut through the security fence.

In Tekoa, near Bethlehem, an IDF officer was injured when Arab rioters began throwing rocks and bottles at soldiers, who used crowd-control tactics to disperse the rioters.

Rockets Continue to Fall

Meanwhile, Gaza-based Palestinians continued firing rockets on southern Israel. By mid-day Sunday, more than 30 Kassam rockets and a Grad Katyusha missile hit in and around western Negev communities.

Two Israelis on a kibbutz (agricultural community) near Sderot were wounded when a Kassam slammed into their home. The house sustained severe damage and a paramedic was wounded by shrapnel when a rocket exploded near his ambulance.

More rockets fell in Sderot's industrial area, sending several people into shock.

A Katyusha rocket scored a hit near the entrance to Netivot, marking the farthest reach so far by a Gaza-launched rocket.

Another rocket slammed into an Ashkelon residence, wounding a mother attempting to shelter her two children from the attack.

PA Suspends Peace Talks

Meanwhile, the Palestinian Authority announced a suspension of peace negotiations with Israel and called on the nations of the world to condemn Israel's Gaza operation.

But at Sunday's Cabinet meeting, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert defended Israel's actions and said the Gaza operation would continue despite condemnation by United Nations Secretary General Ban ki-Moon and the U.N. Security Council.

"It must be clear. The State of Israel has no intention of halting counter-terrorism actions even for a second," Olmert told Cabinet ministers.

"We will act in accordance with the outline that the government will decide on, with the means that we decide on, at the time we decide, with the strength we decide on, without respite, in order to strike at the terrorist organizations -- Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the others -- including their leaders, those who dispatch them, those who provide their weapons, those who allow them to act in given places, according to the outline that we will choose," he said.

"The State of Israel defends its residents in the south and, with all due respect, nothing will deter us from continuing to defend our residents," he said.

"Nobody has the right to preach morality to the State of Israel for taking basic action to defend itself and prevent hundreds of thousands of residents of the south from continuing to be exposed to incessant firing that disrupt our lives," the prime minister said.

Olmert said he hoped diplomatic negotiations would continue.

"Naturally we are interested in continuing diplomatic negotiations," he said.

"When the diplomatic negotiations began, we made it clear that they would not, in any way, be conducted at the expense of our right to defend the residents of Israel against the intolerable actions of the terrorist organizations," he said.

"The more Hamas is hit, the greater the chances of reaching a diplomatic agreement and peace," Olmert contended. "It is clear to me that the Palestinian leadership with whom we are trying to make peace understands this. Israel will continue to defend its citizens and will continue to make efforts to hold negotiations in order to reach a dialogue and understanding with the Palestinian leadership who want this," he said.

But senior Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said the peace talks were "buried in the dust of the Israeli invasion of the Gaza Strip."

Sources: The Associated Press, YNet news service, The Jerusalem Post

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CBN News
Tzippe Barrow

Tzippe Barrow

CBN News - Jerusalem Bureau

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