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Palestinians, Israeli Army Clash As Violence Erupts in West Bank

The Washington Post -- Jerusalem

Violence erupted in the West Bank city of Nablus Monday as Palestinians threw rocks, gasoline bombs and debris at Israeli army vehicles and the soldiers returned fire with guns and tanks. Two Palestinian youths and an Israeli soldier were killed and dozens of Palestinians wounded in the fighting.

Monday night, gunfire and shelling continued to rock the center of the city, residents reported. At least three buildings were set ablaze by an Israeli tank blast, they reported, sending plumes of black smoke across the downtown area. The area was thick with the smell of tear gas.

The violence came as the human rights group Amnesty International reported that more than 250 Palestinian children and 72 Israeli children have been killed in the two-year-long Palestinian uprising against Israeli occupation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Another 7,000 Palestinian and “several hundred” Israeli children have been injured in the violence, the London-based group reported.

“Most Palestinian children have been killed by the IDF’s (Israel Defense Force’s) excessive and disproportionate use of lethal force against demonstrators and stone throwers, and their reckless shooting, shelling and aerial bombardments of residential areas,” the report said. Among the Israeli children killed, 70 percent were victims of suicide bombings, and the report noted the “consistent failure on the part of the PA (Palestinian Authority) to take the necessary steps to arrest those responsible for killing Israeli children and other civilians.’’

Palestinians said the violence Monday in Nablus -- a city of about 115,000 people 30 miles north of Jerusalem that has been under curfew for more than 100 days -- came in several spurts of rock- and molotov cocktail-throwing clashes between Palestinian youths and Israeli forces.

In the first incident, a group of youths began throwing debris at an Israeli tank near the Balata refugee camp on the eastern outskirts of the city. The tank opened fire with its heavy machine gun, killing Rami Ael-Barbari, 12, who was shot in the back of his head, and injuring several others, according to Nablus mayor Ghassan Shakah.