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Fragile Mideast cease-fire endures another day

Israeli officers examine a dead donkey who was used to pull a bomb-laden cart that exploded at Dahaniyeh village in Gaza
Israeli officers examine a dead donkey who was used to pull a bomb-laden cart that exploded at Dahaniyeh village in Gaza  


JERUSALEM (CNN) -- A fragile Mideast cease-fire, brokered last week, holds despite fresh incidents of violence, including the deaths of two Palestinian boys, aged 12 and 11, in separate shooting incidents.

The Palestine Red Crescent Society said an 11-year-old Palestinian child, Ali Abu Shaweesh, was killed by a live bullet in the chest fired by the Israeli army in Khan Yunis in Gaza, near a Jewish settlement.

The Israeli army said dozens of young Palestinian men had gathered in Gaza along the border fence that separates Khan Yunis from settlements in Gush Katif. The Palestinians threw stones and Molotov cocktails, damaging the fence, the army said.

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In response, Israeli soldiers started shooting tear gas and, when that failed to disperse the crowd, fired at the legs of the participants and hit at least one Palestinian youngster, the army said.

In another incident, a 12-year-old Palestinian boy died overnight after Palestinian gunmen opened fire on Israeli soldiers. Palestinian sources said the boy may have been the victim of friendly fire, and the Israelis are not being blamed for that shooting.

Sunday, Israeli soldiers destroyed a bomb-laden donkey cart after a Palestinian man rode it up to an Israeli position in southern Gaza and set off a small explosion.

No Israeli soldiers were wounded there. The Palestinian man was shot, wounded and captured by Israeli soldiers.

On the diplomatic front, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan continued to press the Israelis and Palestinians to move forward on the truce. He called for "a clear definition of the road ahead with no time lines" and warned against focusing exclusively on a cessation of hostilities.

Talking to reporters, he said it needs to be clear "that if we implement the cease-fire, that's not the end of the road."

Bickering erupted at a meeting of the Israeli Cabinet on Sunday, government sources said, over a proposal for a three-way meeting between Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat, Annan, and Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres.

Arafat reportedly suggested the meeting to Annan, but Prime Minister Ariel Sharon turned it down, reiterating his stance there would be no negotiating until all violence had ceased. Government sources said right-wingers accused Peres of trying to usurp Sharon's authority, but Peres said he had a right to be heard in the National Unity government.

Peres and Sharon later mended their differences, sources said.





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