SCATTERED violence persists as Israel and Palestinians both sides debate when to begin cease-fire test period - - Tulsa, OK - News, Weather, Video and Sports - |

SCATTERED violence persists as Israel and Palestinians both sides debate when to begin cease-fire test period

JERUSALEM (AP) _ Scattered violence persisted Saturday in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, further clouding plans for a weeklong test period for an Israeli-Palestinian cease-fire.

Palestinian gunmen fired on an Israeli army jeep near the West Bank village of Beit Rima, north of Ramallah, and the soldiers returned fire, the army said. No injuries were reported.

Palestinians blamed Israeli travel restrictions for the death of a 74-year-old Palestinian woman who died of a heart attack after entering Israel from Egypt in the Gaza Strip.

Fatehma Shtafiyeh had traveled to Cairo for medical treatment and waited two days at the border before being able to pass, said Mouawia Hassinen, director-general of emergency services in Gaza.

Two Israeli soldiers were injured, one seriously, in a clash at the Israeli-Lebanese border late Friday. Lebanese Hezbollah guerrillas fired at least a dozen anti-tank missiles toward two Israeli army outposts in disputed territory, and Israel fired back with artillery.

The Israeli-Palestinian truce was negotiated by CIA director George Tenet and was to have gone into effect June 13. However, seven Israelis and eight Palestinians have been killed since then.

After separate talks with Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Secretary of State Colin Powell said Thursday that both had agreed on a time line for steps toward the resumption of peace talks.

He said seven days without violence would lead to a six-week cooling-off period recommended by an international commission headed by former U.S. Sen. George Mitchell. The cooling-off period is to be followed by confidence-building measures, including a construction freeze in Jewish settlements.

Palestinians said the seven-day period started Thursday evening. Powell, however, said outbreaks of violence Friday meant that the weeklong test had not yet begun.

Dore Gold, a Sharon adviser, did not say whether Israel also considered the test period had started. He said Israel would be the judge of whether violence has stopped.

``We cannot accept a situation where violence simmers,'' he said.

Saturday's incidents came after a meeting late Friday in Lisbon, Portugal between Peres and Arafat, the Palestinian leader's first meeting with a member of Israel's government since Sharon was elected prime minister in February.
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