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Soldier Killed by Cement Block; Nine Palestinians Reported Wounded

February 24, 1989 GMT

JERUSALEM (AP) _ An Israeli soldier was killed in the West Bank city of Nablus today when Palestinians dropped a large cement block on his head from a rooftop, military sources and Israel radio said.

Troops clamped a curfew on Nablus’ 120,000 residents and launched house-to- house searches, Arab reports said. Residents heard sporadic gunfire in the area, the reports said.

Military sources said the cement block was dropped during a clash in Nablus’ open air market.

Also today, nine Palestinians were reported wounded in clashes in the Gaza Strip, and a senior PLO official was quoted as saying he is trying to arrange a meeting with Israeli Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin in London.

Arab hospital officials said the Gaza Strip casualties included a 30-year- old woman from the Rafah refugee camp who is nine months pregnant. Doctors said she was shot in the back but was not in serious condition. They said a 4- year-old boy was wounded in the right arm in the Maghazi refugee camp.

An army spokeswoman said she was checking the reports.

At least 385 Palestinians and 17 Israelis, including the soldier killed today, have died in the 14-month Arab revolt against Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Bassem Abu Sharif, PLO chief Yasser Arafat’s political adviser, was quoted as saying he hopes to meet Rabin in London.

Rabin has left for a fund-raising tour in Switzerland and was scheduled to go to London before returning to Israel next week, said a Defense Ministry official, speaking on condition of anonymity. He declined to elaborate.

″I’m working through British political figures in the Conservative Party to arrange a meeting with Rabin who will visit London,″ Abu Sharif said in an interview in London with the newspaper Yediot Ahronot.

″If I meet him I will ask him ‘why do you shoot children?‴ Abu Sharif said. ″He will of course ask me ‘why are you rioting?’ ″

Rabin has met extensively with Palestinian officials in the occupied lands. However, he has said he would not negotiate with the PLO, which Israel considers a terrorist organization.

Abu Sharif said Israeli public opinion is important to the PLO and could significantly influence the peace process.

However, he said, mistrust is widespread on both sides.


″In the meantime, a majority of the Israelis don’t believe the Palestinians, but I must say that the situation is similar in the Palestinian public with regard to the Israelis,″ he was quoted as saying.

Recent polls have indicated that the majority of Israelis support negotiations with the PLO under certain conditions.

In other developments, the army has appointed a brigadier general to investigate mysterious explosions that have killed three Palestinian children and wounded at least 11 others in the northern West Bank.

Military officials have said the area, northeast of the city of Nablus, is an air force training zone and that the explosives might have been flares dropped during maneuvers.

The most recent incident occurred Thursday when 19-year-old shepherd was burned in the hands and face after handling an unidentified object. The Jerusalem Post newspaper said Kassem described the object as rectangular and shiny, similar to the flares used by the air force.