The Associated Press
December 28, 2008 - 1:00am

RAMALLAH, West Bank: Israeli troops in the West Bank shot dead a Palestinian man and gravely wounded another on Sunday during a violent protest against Israel's deadly air campaign against Gaza militants, the army and a Palestinian medic said.

The medic, Basem Abu Sheikh, said 22-year-old Arafat Khawaja was hit in the chest by live fire in the village of Naalin, near Ramallah. Residents said some demonstrators were hurling rocks at Israeli forces, but it was not immediately clear if the dead man had been among them. Abu Sheikh and the Israeli military said another man was also shot during the protest and was in critical condition.

The military said troops stationed near the village were attacked with a hail of rocks and only used live ammunition after other crowd control methods failed to halt the barrage. A spokesman said the incident was being investigated by military authorities.

Also near Ramallah, troops shot dead a Palestinian in the village of Silwad as he was poised to throw a fire bomb at passing Israeli motorists, the army said.

The official Palestinian news agency Wafa identified the dead youth as Mohammed Hamed, 17.

Some 280 Palestinians have been killed in a wave of Israeli airstrikes into Gaza launched Saturday in an attempt to halt cross-border rocket attacks on Israeli towns from the territory ruled by the radical Islamic Hamas movement.

Demonstrations against the strike have erupted across the Arab world and in Israel itself, where Arabs in the northern village of Deir al Asad fired rifles during one rally, and two children were injured by stray bullets, police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said.

In the southern West Bank town of Hebron, Palestinian security forces loyal to western-backed President Mahmoud Abbas fired in the air to break up a crowd of hundreds of Hamas supporters who were preparing to march to a nearby Israeli checkpoint.

Abbas' forces have been deploying in several West Bank towns, both to minimize friction with Israeli troops and to keep Hamas in check.

At the Kalandia Israeli checkpoint, north of Jerusalem, Palestinians stoned Israeli police but there were no reports of injuries on either side.


American Task Force on Palestine - 1634 Eye St. NW, Suite 725, Washington DC 20006 - Telephone: 202-262-0017