Settlers kill 3 Arabs in territories

December 11, 1993|By Doug Struck | Doug Struck,Jerusalem Bureau

JERUSALEM -- Jewish settlers shot and killed three Palestinian workers last night in retaliation for the earlier slaying of two Jews, according to reports, continuing a string of tit-for-tat killings.

The violence has increased approaching Monday's scheduled start of Israel's withdrawal from the West Bank town of Jericho and the Gaza Strip. Partly because of security concerns, that withdrawal may be delayed.

The triple slaying near Hebron was one of several violent attacks reported yesterday, despite a flood of soldiers sent into the occupied territories to keep peace.

It featured an ominous new signature: A caller giving the name Ronen phoned press offices to claim Jewish settler responsibility for the slayings, saying it was revenge for the shooting of a Jewish father and his son Monday. Israel Television said the Jewish extremist group Kach claimed responsibility.

Nine people have been killed in seven days. An Arab vegetable merchant was killed near Hebron last Saturday, and an Israeli and his Palestinian attacker were shot to death on a bus near Tel Aviv. Two Jewish settlers, a father and his 19-year-old son, were killed in Hebron on Monday. An Arab farmer was shot deadin his field in the West Bank on Thursday.

The slayings have shaken public confidence in the government and its plans to pursue peace with the Palestinians. Opposition leader Binyamin Netanyahu last night said he was "shocked" at the slayings claimed by Jews, according to Israel Radio.

Jewish and Arab extremists have vowed to use violence to disrupt the peace plan, which calls for the start of the Israeli pullout Monday, to be followed by a pullback from populated areas in the rest of the West Bank by July.

Foreign Minister Shimon Peres warned last night that a delay in the start of the withdrawal could harm the peace agreement.

He said the parties should "not allow extremist groups like Hamas to get control of the issues. This is a terrible mistake, and whoever delays or stops time is creating an opportunity to take action against the peace talks."

The killings yesterday occurred near Hebron, an Arab city into which Jewish settlers have moved. The city has been the scene of repeated clashes.

According to Israel Radio, two men in a car with Israeli license plates opened fire on the Palestinian workers as they drove home through the village of Kharas.

Killed were two brothers, Saade Abdul Muhdi Fatafta, 27, and Mohammed Fatafta, 25, and a cousin, Shaq Fatafta, 25.

In other incidents yesterday, a Jewish employer in the Gaza Strip was wounded by three Arab workers with knives, and a shots were fired at an Israeli police car near Gaza City, with a policeman slightly injured by flying glass.

In southern Lebanon, an Israeli soldier was reported killed when his tank overturned after a missile attack by Muslim guerrillas. The other five people in the tank were not injured.

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