Violence leaves three Israelis dead in West Bank, Jordan |

Violence leaves three Israelis dead in West Bank, Jordan

JERUSALEM (AP) – In a series of violent episodes Tuesday, two Israelis were shot dead in the West Bank, an Israeli was gunned down in neighboring Jordan, and two Palestinian youths were hurt in clashes in the Gaza Strip.

With violence grinding on, no political initiatives appeared on the horizon. The Palestinians again appealed for an international force of observers to protect them from what they called Israeli aggression.

The Palestinians have been making such pleas for months, but Israelis are opposed to outside intervention, and no such contingent appeared likely in the region anytime soon.

After nightfall, a 40-year-old Israeli motorist was shot while driving in the West Bank near the city of Nablus, and died of his wounds, the military said. The Israeli, who was from a nearby settlement, was shot from a passing car, the army said. A medic told Israeli radio he died of bullet wounds.

The circumstances behind the killing of two other Israelis, one in the West Bank and the other in Jordan, were unclear.

Wael Ghanem, an Israeli Arab, was shot and killed as he drove toward the Jewish settlement of Tzofin on the West Bank, not far from where an Israeli woman was killed Sunday.

Palestinian security sources said Ghanem was a collaborator with Israeli security during the first Palestinian uprising, from 1987-93. He moved to Israel and received citizenship, they said, indicating that he might have been killed because of his background.

However, he was driving a car with yellow Israeli license plates on a West Bank road where a similar shooting attack had taken place, raising the possibility that Palestinian gunmen thought they were targeting an Israeli settler. More than 30 settlers have been killed in Palestinian ambushes and drive-by shootings since violence erupted Sept. 28.

In Jordan, an Israeli businessman, Yitzhak Snir, was shot and killed outside his apartment in the capital, Amman. Two radical Arab groups claimed responsibility, but Jordanian officials said the killing might have been criminal in nature.

Snir, 51, a diamond dealer, had set up a joint venture with a Jordanian businessman. In an official statement, Israel’s Foreign Ministry expressed sorrow at the death of Snir, who had set up a business in Jordan ”within the framework of the continuing effort to expand the fruits of peace between the two countries.”

Israel and Jordan signed a peace treaty in 1994, but economic relations never took off. Opposition to relations with Israel has grown considerably in Jordan during the Palestinian uprising. About half of Jordan’s citizens are Palestinians.

In the Gaza Strip, clashes erupted at a daily flashpoint near the Israeli army post along the border with Egypt. Palestinians threw grenades and firebombs at Israeli soldiers, who fired back. Two Palestinians, ages 12 and 13, were wounded, hospital doctors said.

Palestinians complained that international observers have not been sent, despite a call from the eight top industrialized countries last month. Nabil Aburdeneh, an aide to Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, charged that nothing has happened ”because of the absence of the American role in the region and international weakness in facing Israeli aggression.”

Palestinian Information Minister Yasser Abed Rabbo complained that the United States does not have a clear policy. ”They have to understand that the instability of their policy works against their interests in the region,” he told reporters in the West Bank town of Ramallah.

Israel charges that the Palestinians are to blame for the violence. Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer said Arafat is in full control. ”Whatever he says, happens,” he told Israel television on Monday.

”If he says there will be quiet, there will be quiet, and in one week we will go over to the Mitchell report,” he said, referring to recommendations of an international commission calling for a cooling-off period, confidence-building measures and resumption of peace talks.

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