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Barak's Plane Heads Back To D.C.

JERUSALEM (AP) — After twice reversing his plane's course due to a hijacking crisis, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak was again headed to the United States on Sunday for a meeting with President Clinton on Mideast violence.

Barak left Israel on Saturday night, but by the time he landed for a scheduled stopover in London, he'd received word that a Russian plane had been hijacked and had landed at a military air base in the southern Israeli desert.

He decided to return home, but before he could reach Israel the hijacking was resolved peacefully, prompting him to turn around in midair to head back to London and on to Washington, said Barak adviser Danny Yatom, who was traveling with the prime minister.

Barak has already said that after six weeks of sustained violence, he has little hope that the meeting with Clinton will be able to end the bloodshed that has killed nearly 200 people, almost all of them Palestinians, in six weeks.

The violence continued on Sunday. One Palestinian was killed in a stone-throwing clash near the Erez checkpoint between Israel and the Gaza Strip, officials at Shifa hospital said. They said the Israeli army had fired live ammunition.

In clashes Saturday, six Palestinians and one Israeli soldier were killed in the West Bank and Gaza. Also Saturday, in the West Bank town of Bethlehem, an American free-lance photographer on assignment for The Associated Press was shot in the abdomen. Yola Monakhov, 26, underwent six hours of surgery for extensive internal injuries at Jerusalem's Hadassah Hospital.

Asked before surgery who had shot her, Monakhov responded: ``An Israeli soldier.'' Witnesses in Bethlehem said she had been on a street near stone-throwers when an Israeli soldier turned a corner, aimed and shot her.

Col. Marcel Aviv, the commander of Israeli troops in Bethlehem, said his soldiers fired rubber bullets and one live shot at a Palestinian man who was hit in the leg. There was shooting from the Palestinian side as well, he said, adding that Monakhov could have been hit ``by their stray bullet.''

However, Dr. Avi Rivkind, chief surgeon at Hadassah hospital who operated on Monakhov, said it was clear to him that the bullet used was a live bullet, not a rubber one. It remained lodged in her abdomen after doctors determined it was safer not to try to remove it.

In further violence Sunday, the Jewish neighborhood of Gilo, on the southern fringe of Jerusalem, came under fire around midday from a neighboring Palestinian village. The Israeli army responded with gunfire, witnesses said. Gilo has been repeatedly targeted for attack in recent weeks.

In the West Bank town of Hebron, Israeli troops and Palestinian stone-throwers clashed, and the two sides also exchanged live gunfire, witnesses said.

The Israelis and Palestinians appeared to be moving further from restarting talks that were suspended after the fighting broke out.

The Palestinians have announced several conditions for resuming peace negotiations, including the establishment of an international peacekeeping force, which Israel rejects.

Barak's visit to Washington takes place three days after Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat met with Clinton. Despite repeated U.S. intervention, the violence has shown no signs of abating.

The Palestinians have charged Washington with favoring Israel, arguing that other nations should be involved in Middle East peacemaking.
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