New Israeli-Palestinian violence erupts


JERUSALEM, Reuters

Israeli-Palestinian violence burst out anew on Monday when a car bomb blew up near Tel Aviv airport and Israeli gunfire on a funeral procession in Gaza killed a Palestinian teenager and wounded 14 people.

In a sign of the growing concern at the escalating violence, an Israeli official said Foreign Minister Shimon Peres would travel to Washington this weekend for talks with U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell and possibly President George W. Bush.

Israeli police said five people were injured when a nail bomb placed in a stolen car blew up in the central town of Or Yehuda, about 10 km (six miles) from Tel Aviv and near Ben-Gurion international airport.

It was the fourth explosion in Israel in two days and followed a Palestinian suicide attack on Sunday that killed the bomber and an Israeli doctor in the central town of Kfar Saba, 20 km (12 miles) north of Tel Aviv.

In other clashes, Palestinians said they beat back an attempted Israeli incursion into their territory in the Gaza Strip and Israel reported a roadside bomb blast near a West Bank Jewish settlement.

Halting peace efforts were set back by doubts that a planned meeting would go ahead later on Monday between Israeli and Palestinian security chiefs on coordinating efforts to head off bloodshed.

International peace efforts under way included a U.N. envoy’s shuttle mission to Arab capitals, a European Union envoy’s visit and a review by Palestinians and Israelis of a Jordan Egypt peace plan.

In Gaza, Palestinian witnesses said Israeli troops shot at mourners attending the funeral of a Palestinian policeman killed by Israeli fire last week as the procession came close to the Jewish settlement of Gannei Tal, which is guarded by soldiers.

Palestinian medical officials said 14-year-old Muhanad Muhared was killed in the volley of bullets at Khan Younis refugee camp. “We also have 14 wounded,” a spokesman for the camp’s Nasser Hospital told Reuters.

The Israeli army said it was checking the report.

The witnesses said hundreds of mourners were marching in an orderly fashion in the funeral when they came under fire from the Israeli post about 500 meters away.

They said after the shooting gunmen in the procession returned fire on the Israelis.

Earlier on Monday at the other end of the 45-kilometer-long Gaza Strip, witnesses said Palestinian gunmen for the first time in the present two-week-old surge of violence used anti-tank grenades to foil an Israeli attempt to destroy homes in Rafah refugee camp.

The witnesses said seven Israeli tanks and two bulldozers backed off under a hail of gunfire at the camp near the Egyptian border, scene of two earlier incursions by Israeli troops in the past week.