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Violence Erupts in West Bank Despite Resumption of Peace Talks - 2002-07-10

An Israeli army officer has been killed in a firefight with Palestinian gunmen and a 19-year-old Palestinian was reported shot to death by Israeli forces in a West Bank refugee camp. The incidents occured despite a resumption of talks between the two sides.

The Israeli lieutenant was killed when Palestinian gunmen opened fire at a group of Israeli soldiers patrolling an area near the Egyptian border. The Israeli military said the patrol was searching for tunnels in the area separating Gaza from the Egyptian border. There have been numerous clashes there during more than 21 months of violence.

In the West bank town of Nablus, Palestinians say a 19-year-old Palestinian died and two were wounded when Israeli troops fired machine-guns at a group of youths throwing stones at Israeli tanks passing the Askar refugee camp. Israeli officials say they are checking the report.

In political developments, lawyers for al-Quds University President Sari Nusseibeh, say they will go to court to appeal Israel's closing of his office in east Jerusalem. Police closed the office Tuesday on orders from Israel's Public Security Ministry.

Mr. Nusseibeh, a noted Palestinian moderate, also serves as the top Palestine Liberation Organization official for Jerusalem and Israel contends his office was used on behalf of the PLO in ways that violated interim peace accords. Mr. Nusseibeh denied the Israeli charges.

Two meetings this week between senior Israeli and Palestinian officials had sparked hopes that relations between the two sides might be improving.

Even Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who has said there can be no talks until attacks against Israel stop, seemed less pessimistic than he has been in recent weeks. He said that while peace "looks distant at this time, it seems to me that maybe some type of window has opened."