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Israeli Police Kill Palestinian Driver; High Alert Declared

April 08, 1998| From Times Wire Services

JERUSALEM — Israeli forces went on high alert Tuesday after police shot and killed a Palestinian driver who they said had ignored an order to stop at a Jerusalem checkpoint. The victim's family disputed the police account.

Stone-throwing clashes broke out late Monday in several Arab neighborhoods of the city after the shooting of Mohammed Salaimi, 25. Arab residents also stoned buses and police cars, burned tires and threw a firebomb.

Police Minister Avigdor Kahalani said the police "did exactly what they are ordered to do." Salaimi should have obeyed the order to stop, he said.

Salaimi's brother, Nadir, disagreed with the official version of events. "They caught up with him and shot him. They shot him although he had stopped, not while the car was moving," he said.

Salaimi was buried Tuesday afternoon in a cemetery just outside the walled Old City of Jerusalem.

The security alert came within days of the start of Passover. Israel was expected to seal off the West Bank and Gaza Strip before the start of the seven-day Jewish holiday, which begins at sundown Friday.

The alert also came the same day a senior Clinton administration official said in Washington that U.S. special envoy Dennis B. Ross would return soon to the Middle East to try to break the stalemate in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

Also Tuesday, Hamas leaders stepped up their criticism of the Palestinian Authority and said the Islamic group would go on with its own investigation of the death of the group's chief bomb maker, whose body was found at the scene of an explosion in the West Bank town of Ramallah on March 29.

The Palestinian Authority has concluded that bomb maker Mohiedin Sharif had been shot by a rival Hamas member.

Palestinian official Tayeb Abdel Rahim said Yasser Arafat, president of the Palestinian Authority, had decided on a speedy and public trial of the four Hamas members suspected in Sharif's death who are in custody. A fifth suspect is at large.

Though the authority cleared Israel in Sharif's death, Hamas continued to blame Israel and said it would make good on threats to carry out revenge bombings.

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