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Friday, 2 March, 2001, 16:51 GMT
Four die in Mid-East violence
Obei's mother and sister
Nine-year-old Obei's relatives are in mourning
Four Palestinians have been killed by Israeli gunfire in separate incidents, including a 13-year-old boy in Gaza and a nine-year-old in the West Bank.

The Israeli army said it had killed a "suspected terrorist" in Gaza, but Palestinians said he was a mentally handicapped homeless man, who was well-known to the army and posed no threat.


[Israel's] ways have become exposed to the truth in front of international public opinion, as have their dangerous objectives against human rights

Yasser Arafat
Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat said the deaths exposed "dangerous objectives against human rights" on the part of the Israeli army.

The youngest casualty, identified as Obei Darraj, was killed as he was walking with his father near their abandoned home close to the Jewish settlement of Psagot, which abuts the Palestinian town of El-Bireh.

Palestinian militants had fired at the heavily-guarded settlement and the death occurred as troops returned fire.

Israeli checkpoint
Israel's security forces respond to the bomb attack with heightened security
The 13-year-old child died of bullet wounds inflicted by Israeli troops earlier in the week during stone-throwing clashes near the Karni crossing point between Israel and the Gaza Strip.

Later in the day, Israeli troops opened fire during a clash in the Kalandia refugee camp near the West Bank town of Ramallah.

Palestinian officials said one man died in hospital after being shot in the stomach.

Mangled remains

A high proportion of the estimated 350 Palestinians killed during five months of violent clashes with Israeli security forces have been children.

About 60 Israelis have been also been killed in armed attacks and bomb blasts carried out by Palestinian militants. The violence has followed a breakdown in Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

There was confusion earlier in the day when the army said it had shot dead a bomber in Gaza, thereby thwarting an attempted attack against "civilians and soldiers travelling the road."

Relatives of Mustafa Ramlawi who was shot on Friday by Israeli army
Death of a vagrant: Mustafa Ramlawi's relatives mourn
He turned out to be Mustafa Ramlawi, a 40-year-old vagrant who was mentally handicapped, Palestinian sources said.

The French news agency AFP quoted another army spokesman who said no bomb had been found and the action may have been a mistake.

"The soldiers saw a man who was walking with a sack. He was walking at night in an area that is a totally closed military zone," he is quoted as saying.

According to an army communique, the incident occurred in the early hours of Friday morning as the troops were in action along the Karni-Netzarim road.

Palestinian hospital officials described the man's body as mangled, a result of being hit repeatedly by heavy-calibre machine-gun fire and explosive shells.

High alert

Israeli security forces have been on a heightened state of alert since a bomb explosion in a taxi on Thursday.

The bomb ripped apart the vehicle, killing Claude Knafo, 29, an Israeli passenger, and wounding nine other people, including a pregnant Israeli woman.

Police said one of the wounded had detonated a bomb he was carrying after police stopped the taxi at a roadblock.

An unknown Palestinian militant group calling itself the Battalions of Return has said the attack was in retaliation for Israeli shelling of Palestinian villages.

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See also:

01 Mar 01 | Middle East
Taxi blast shocks Israel
19 Nov 00 | Middle East
Children become symbol of struggle
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