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Rocks Halt Senator's Visit to Refugee Camp

January 07, 1988|From Times Wire Services

RAMALLAH, Occupied West Bank — Violent anti-Israeli protests spread through the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip again today and Sen. John H. Chafee (R-R.I.) had to abort a visit to a Palestinian refugee camp amid a hail of stones and clouds of tear gas.

From the gate of the Kalandia refugee camp near Ramallah, Chafee saw soldiers firing tear gas to disperse rock-throwing protesters, a U.S. diplomat said. The senator decided not to enter because of the violence, the diplomat said.

"At no time were we in any danger," said William Lee, a spokesman for the U.N. Relief and Works Agency. "These incidents occur on a regular basis. It just happened the senator was an eyewitness."

Chafee, accompanied by the director of the U.N. agency on the West Bank and a U.S. Consulate official, arrived at the camp in early morning as a demonstration was under way about 500 yards inside the camp.

"As soon as we got there, stones were thrown," Lee said. "I don't think they knew we were coming."

Chafee, on a private visit, wanted to tour a refugee camp before traveling to Jordan.

"He is aware of the tensions and knows (the protest) was not aimed at him," Lee said. After a second attempt to enter the camp failed, Chafee went to the Aqbat Jabr camp near Jericho and visited a U.N. school.

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