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Thursday, December 10, 1998 Published at 01:05 GMT

World: Middle East

Teenager killed in West Bank clashes

Clashes coincided with anniversary of the Intifada

A teenager has been killed and at least 80 people injured in confrontations with the Israeli army.

Middle East
The death happened as Israeli soldiers fired live ammunition, rubber coated bullets and tear gas at demonstrators demanding the release of Palestinian prisoners.

Correspondents say it was the worst violence in nearly three weeks of protests.

The BBC's Lyse Doucet: This has been the worst violence in three weeks
The clashes, which occurred in most West Bank towns, coincided with the 11th anniversary of the Palestinian uprising.

Violence has erupted on the edges of Palestinian cities and Jewish settlements every day this week in the run-up to US President Bill Clinton's visit on Saturday aimed at fostering peace between the two sides.

Jihad Ayyad, 17, who was reportedly shot in the chest with live ammunition, is the second Palestinian killed in this week's clashes.

Our Jerusalem Correspondent Lyse Doucet says the funeral procession through the streets of Ramallah on Thursday is sure to attract large, angry crowds.

On Wednesday night more than 1,000 mourners attended the funeral of 20-year-old Nasser Erekat, a cousin of the Palestinian negotiator, Saeb Erekat, who died of injuries sustained in clashes two days ago.

Stones were thrown at Israeli soldiers, who responded with rubber-coated bullets and teargas.

Hamas leader joins hunger strike

In another development, the leader of the militant Islamic group Hamas, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, has joined 2,000 Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike.

[ image: Israeli troops fire rubber bullets at protesters]
Israeli troops fire rubber bullets at protesters
His spokesman, Mahmud al-Zahhar, said the former detainee had joined the protest as a show of solidarity.

Palestinian businesses and schools also closed in a general strike commemorating the Intifada and to protest at Israel's refusal to release prisoners under the Wye River land-for-security deal signed in Washington in October.

Israeli leader, Binyamin Netanyahu said he never promised to release anyone who has killed Israelis.

He says the new peace deal is on hold until the violence stops and the Palestinians keep to their commitments.

In a speech in Hebron, Palestinian President Yasser Arafat said Israel had no right to stop him declaring an independent Palestinian state in May 1999.

US fears

[ image: Violence has erupted every day this week]
Violence has erupted every day this week
US officials have embarked on a new campaign to keep the Middle East peace process on track.

Secretary of State Madeleine Albright urged the Israeli Government not to renege on promises of further West Bank troop withdrawals scheduled for next week.

She said Israel could not add further conditions to the Wye agreement.

US Middle East envoy Dennis Ross, who has met both leaders ahead of Mr Clinton's visit, called on Israelis and Palestinians to end the street violence and deal with differences at the negotiating table.

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