Violence flares despite talk of truce

JERUSALEM, APRIL 29. Israeli-Palestinian violence flared again on Sunday despite talk by the Egyptian President, Mr. Hosni Mubarak, of a four-week ceasefire agreement to end the bloodshed.

``The two sides have agreed to a ceasefire,'' he said after talks with the Israeli Foreign Minister, Mr. Shimon Peres, in Cairo. ``After a ceasefire of four weeks, negotiations between the two sides will start to reach a solution to the current situation,'' Mr. Mubarak said. Palestinian officials said they had no knowledge of any ceasefire deal. ``We were not informed of such an agreement. This is the first we hear of it,'' a senior official in Gaza said. Mr. Peres was in Cairo to discuss an Egyptian-Jordanian peace proposal that calls for an end to violence, confidence-building measures and a return to peace talks. The Foreign Minister was due to travel on to Jordan and then return to brief the Israeli Prime Minister, Mr. Ariel Sharon, before flying to Washington for talks with the Secretary of State, Gen. Colin Powell, and other senior U.S. Officials.

The talk from Cairo produced no immediate let-up in violence that has killed at least 394 Palestinians, 13 Israeli Arabs and 75 Israelis since a Palestinian uprising against Israeli occupation erupted seven months ago.

Israeli tanks fired four shells near the Khan Younis refugee camp in the southern Gaza Strip, wounding an 11-year-old boy in the leg, Palestinian hospital sources said. An army spokesman said troops had been replying to gunfire from Khan Younis at military posts near the Jewish settlements of Gadid and Neve Dekalim, where one Israeli was wounded.

Further north, soldiers guarding Kfar Darom settlement fired three tank shells at a Palestinian intelligence post in Deir al- Balah, wounding two people, a Palestinian security spokesman said, adding that Palestinians had not been firing at the time.

The army said Palestinians had fired two mortar bombs at Kfar Darom, causing no casualties. Troops also battled Palestinian gunmen in Beit Hanoun in the southern Gaza Strip, Palestinian security officials said.

Israel has said it is considering the Egyptian-Jordanian peace proposal, but Mr. Sharon has demanded significant changes.

``The Foreign Minister's trip is intended to deal with one thing - lowering the tension and stopping the terror and violence,'' he told army radio.

- Reuters

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