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Last Updated: Sunday, 2 November, 2003, 04:02 GMT
Thousands at Israeli peace rally
Tel Aviv peace demonstrators
The rally revived memories of Rabin's peace drive
Tens of thousands of Israelis have marked the eighth anniversary of the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin with a peace rally in Tel Aviv.

They gathered on the square where the prime minister was gunned down by a Jewish extremist on 4 November 1995.

Rabin's Labour Party comrade Shimon Peres told the crowd that Palestinian leaders wanted to make peace.

In the Gaza Strip, Israeli troops fired on a group of gunmen near a border fence, reportedly killing one of them.

Palestinian sources said two other gunmen were wounded in the incident at the fence which separates the strip from Israel.

In the West Bank, Israeli troops also shot a Palestinian motorcyclist after he reportedly ignored calls to stop.

Israeli soldiers at the checkpoint in Nablus administered first aid to the man who, they said, had a bullet wound in the leg, and then put him in a taxi to hospital.

However, he was later pronounced dead at the Palestinian hospital where doctors reported that he had been shot in the chest.

The Israeli army also reported that five of its soldiers had been lightly wounded by a bomb blast in the marketplace of Nablus on Saturday.

Palestinian 'partner'

Up to 100,000 people gathered on Tel Aviv's Rabin Square for the peace rally, according to one estimate.

Demonstrators, who included campaigners against the troop presence in the Palestinian areas, waved banners in support of the "Geneva initiative", an unofficial plan drafted by Palestinians and Israeli leftists.

Zvi Friedman, one of the rally's organisers, said the turnout was "reassurance of the desire for peace, reassurance for people against violence and reassurance of Rabin's way".

Mr Peres, who was with Rabin when he was killed, called for support for the new Palestinian Prime Minister, Ahmed Qurei, who is currently forming a new government.

"For his own people's good he is in favour of ending terrorism and we can consider him a partner," the Labour Party leader told the rally.

Ariel Sharon's government has been hostile towards the new Palestinian prime minister, seeing him as a close ally of Yasser Arafat, but Mr Sharon said on Friday he was prepared to hold talks with him.


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