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Mideast clashes continue despite Arafat's cease-fire order
Palestinian leader tells Fatah activists not to shoot at Israelis
GAZA CITY (CNN) -- Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat ordered Fatah activists to stop firing on Israelis, but clashes in the West Bank and Gaza continued Wednesday and left at least eight Palestinians dead.
Arafat's cease-fire order to Fatah was issued overnight, a senior Palestinian official told CNN on Wednesday. Fatah had been calling for a new Palestinian uprising against Israel.
The cease-fire order came after a phone call from U.S. President Bill Clinton urging Arafat to "take immediate steps to end the violence."
Arafat's order did not stop confrontations between Israelis and Palestinians on Wednesday. The Palestinian Red Crescent said three Palestinians died in Gaza, one was killed in Jericho, and four were killed in towns in the West Bank.
Six others were critically injured in the clashes, the Red Crescent Society said.
Gunshots, burned vehicles
A five-story apartment building in the West Bank town of Ramallah was peppered with Israeli machine-gun fire after Palestinian gunshots came from the building.
Israeli troops also faced off with demonstrators at Ramallah who burned vehicles and hurled stones at troops in armored personnel carriers.
Since September 28, at least 238 people have been killed in violence in Israel and the territories. Among them were 201 Palestinians, 13 Israeli Arabs and 24 Israeli Jews.
Fatah is the core group within Arafat's Palestine Liberation Organization. It had called on Palestinians to begin an uprising on Wednesday and drive Israelis from land occupied in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war.
The unrest continued into Wednesday night, with a gunfight breaking out in the settlement of Gilo, outside Jerusalem. There were no immediate reports of casualties.
Israeli Cabinet to discuss violence
The gunfight in Gilo came just a short time after Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak convened a meeting of his security Cabinet to discuss Israel's response to recent attacks that left four Israelis dead.
"Different ways of acting will be presented," said Israeli Army Chief of Staff Shaul Mofaz. "The army will act according to the decision of the Cabinet."
Israeli security forces have imposed a tight blockade on all Palestinian towns in the West Bank, allowing only vehicles carrying food, medicine or humanitarian aid to pass.
Members of the Israeli government continue to blame Arafat for the continuing violence.
"Who is behind it is Arafat. That's what's important because Arafat is controlling everything," said Cabinet minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer. "He controls the Hamas, he controls the Islamic Jihad. I don't imagine anything happening in the area without the blessing of Arafat."
But Chief Palestinian Negotiator Saeb Erakat, unable to leave his Jericho home because of the Israeli blockade, blamed Barak for furthering the conflict by cordoning off the Palestinian areas and keeping troops in the area.
"If he wants to see the future generations of Palestinians and Israelis living in peace, what are the forces doing in the West Bank and Gaza?" Erakat asked.
He said what needs to be done "immediately" is to "see that the international community will respond to (Palestinian Authority) President Arafat's request to see to it that we have international protection forces coming to the West Bank and Gaza."
Barak has rejected the Palestinian call for an outside security force, saying that it would "reward" Palestinian violence.
Israel closes borders with Palestinian-ruled areas after more deaths
United Jewish Communities
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