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Grenade Blast in Jerusalem Kills Palestinian, Injures 12

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TIMES STAFF WRITER

A Palestinian butcher was killed Monday by a hand grenade thrown into the crowded meat market of Jerusalem’s Old City, continuing the cycle of unremitting Arab-Israeli violence. Twelve others, including two of the butcher’s sons, were wounded by flying shrapnel.

Arab shopkeepers said a Jew, perhaps one of the 200 Israelis who have recently moved into the Old City’s Muslim quarter, threw the army-issue fragmentation grenade through an opening in the market’s dome-shaped roof shortly after 1 p.m. The grenade fell into the butcher shop of Marzouk Idkeidik, 60, killing him and wounding his two sons, police said. The other victims were shoppers and merchants standing near the store.

As medical teams struggled to get through the Old City’s narrow, winding streets to reach the market, three Jews appeared on an adjacent roof, according to shopkeepers, who said the youths jeered at the wounded and shouted that the grenade attack was in reprisal for recent Arab assaults on Jews. “They were screaming at us, saying that they would kill us all,” one shopkeeper said.

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Faisal Husseini, the head of the Palestinian team negotiating with Israel on self-rule, blamed the continuing, communal violence that is spreading from the West Bank into Arab East Jerusalem on Israel’s 25-year occupation of the region and Palestinian resistance against it.

“The only solution we have is ending the occupation and creating new relations between us and the Israelis,” Husseini said, asserting that lawlessness is increasing without resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

An anonymous caller told state-run Israel Radio that the anti-Arab Kach movement carried out the attack to mark the second anniversary of the slaying in New York of its leader, Rabbi Meir Kahane. Kahane’s followers advocate the total removal of Arabs from Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. In contrast, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin has offered the Palestinians limited self-rule in the occupied territories.

Over the past three or four years, Jews living in the Old City or visiting there have been repeatedly attacked, often by knife-wielding Palestinian youths, and many Jerusalem residents now shun the Old City as unsafe. Jewish settlers, moreover, increasingly have been attacked in the West Bank’s outlying towns, most often by Islamic fundamentalists with the avowed aim of driving Israeli settlers out.

The attack in the butchers’ market on Monday thus appeared more likely to prolong and expand the confrontation than to deter future assaults.

Fearing protest riots by angry Palestinians after the attack, police escorted thousands upon thousands of foreign tourists from the Old City on Monday, dramatizing the effect that the continuing violence has on life in the country.

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Police flooded into the area immediately after the blast to prevent Palestinian reprisals. They detained 12 Arab youths in their sweep. But they were only beginning to question Jewish residents on Monday evening.

According to figures kept by the Associated Press, at least 976 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli soldiers or civilians, and 106 Israelis have died in violence linked to the Palestinian uprising over the five-year course of the intifada, the Palestinian rebellion against the Israeli occupation.

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