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Israeli Troops Kill Palestinan Boy in West Bank - 2002-11-25

Israeli troops shot dead an eight-year-old Palestinian boy during clashes in the West Bank city of Nablus Monday. Israeli forces are maintaining a tight hold over Nablus, but have scaled back their presence in the West Bank city of Bethlehem.

A large group of Palestinian young people gathered Monday in the center of Nablus in defiance of a military curfew.

The Israeli army says the boys began throwing stones at Israeli soldiers, and that one of them also hurled two explosive devices at the troops who returned fire, killing Jihad Faqeh, an eight-year-old boy who was standing in a side alley.

A number of older Palestinians were also wounded in the fighting, as many adults ventured into the streets to buy food for the evening meal that breaks the day-long fast during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

In a news conference Monday in Jerusalem, the newly elected leader of the center-left Labor Party in Israel, Amram Mitzna, said the violence could not be halted by military force but only through negotiations. "We don't have any other choice," he said. "Despite the terrorism, despite the victims, there is no choice. We have to speak to our enemies. We have to call our enemies, we have to call the Palestinians [and tell them] that they don't have any other choice either."

Mr. Mitzna is a candidate for prime minister in elections due to be held in late January.

He will be running against the ruling Likud faction, which is to hold a vote Thursday to decide who will head the party in the next parliament.

The contest within the Likud is between Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and his foreign minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.

Meanwhile in Bethlehem, Israeli troops on Monday began scaling down their presence in the West Bank city, four days after they reoccupied it in response to a Palestinian suicide bombing.

At the same time, soldiers warned Bethlehem residents to stay inside their homes as a curfew remained in force.

Israeli troops have arrested more than 30 suspected Palestinian militants in Bethlehem since Friday, three of them believed to be connected to suicide bombing attacks.