Tuesday, 9 October 2001

Palestinian police begin cracking down

By Matthew Kalman,
USA TODAY, 9 October 2001

JERUSALEM — Thousands of students took to the streets of Gaza on Monday to demonstrate support for Osama bin Laden and denounce U.S.-led strikes on targets in Afghanistan. Palestinian police, under orders from Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat to maintain calm, shot dead two demonstrators and wounded 50 others. Israel has called on Arafat to enforce a cease-fire by reining in and arresting militants who have been conducting attacks against Israelis.

Palestinian police opened fire with live ammunition and tear gas. Palestinian officials banned filming of the riots to suppress footage of Palestinians hailing bin Laden as their hero at an anti-American demonstration organized by the extremist Hamas group. Hamas has historically been Arafat's rival and pledged to wreck his interim peace deals with Israel.

Palestinian leaders are still smarting from international condemnation of the celebrations in the West Bank and Gaza after the Sept. 11 terror attacks in the USA.

Israeli Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer said the Gaza protests would test the Palestinian Authority's ability to control militants.

Israeli leaders, who expressed full support for the U.S. campaign against the Taliban militia in Afghanistan, said their security officials had been sharing operational anti-terror intelligence with U.S. officials since the attacks.

Israeli officials said they believed their country is no more vulnerable as a result of the attacks in Afghanistan. "Israel is not participating in this war and people should remain calm for the moment," Ben-Eliezer said. "We do not expect any attack on Israel."

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