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Officers Reject Arafat's Security Pick; 3 Palestinians Killed in Gaza

July 07, 2002|From Times Wire Services

RAMALLAH, West Bank — Palestinian security chiefs rejected Yasser Arafat's choice for a new West Bank leader for their forces, increasing pressure on the Palestinian leader Saturday as he faces U.S. calls for reform.

Meanwhile, three Palestinians were killed in two separate shootings in the Gaza Strip, including a woman and her 2-year-old daughter who were hit while riding in a taxi near a Jewish settlement.

Palestinians claimed that Israeli troops were responsible for all three deaths. The Israeli army said soldiers had fired several shots at "suspicious figures" in the area and were checking whether they had killed the woman and her daughter. Army officials said they were unaware of another incident.

Arafat has been under Israeli and American pressure to restructure his overlapping security forces and direct them to stop terrorist attacks against Israel. Last week, the Palestinian Authority president dismissed three senior security leaders, including Jibril Rajoub, head of preventive security in the West Bank.

Arafat appointed the governor of Jenin, Zuhair Manasra, to replace Rajoub.

But almost 200 security officers gathered Saturday to object to the appointment of Manasra and demand that Rajoub be given another high-ranking political or security post. Rajoub's fellow officers said Manasra was unsuitable because he was not from Preventive Security Services, the most powerful security branch.

The protesters met near Ramallah and planned to march to Arafat's battered compound, which is surrounded by Israeli forces, who control seven of the eight main Palestinian cities and towns in the West Bank.

The troops turned back the marchers as they approached the compound, but they later allowed a delegation of 10 senior officers to enter and meet with Arafat.

Despite the protest, Rajoub said in a Palestinian radio interview Saturday that he was not seeking another post, either in security or politics, for the moment.

In the Gaza shootings, Randa Hindi and her 2-year-old daughter, Noor, were killed by machine-gun fire from an Israeli tank while traveling in a taxi in central Gaza, according to Dr. Ahmed Rabeh, a spokesman for Al Aqsa Hospital in Deir al Balah.

A passenger in the taxi, Jamal Ismail, 29, said the car came under fire just after passing the Netzarim junction near a Jewish settlement that is heavily guarded by the army.

Also Saturday, a 44-year-old Palestinian man, Subhi Shurab, was killed by Israeli gunfire while walking from the southern Gaza City of Khan Yunis to his home just outside the city, Palestinian security officials said.

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