Palestinian Officials Apologize in Wake of Police Shooting Incident

Palestinian officials have apologized to Israel for the weekend shooting of an Israeli soldier by a Palestinian police officer in the Gaza Strip.

According to local reports, the Palestinian policeman approached a group of Israeli soldiers Saturday at a roadblock in southern Gaza and began shouting abuse at them. After telling them to leave their post, the policeman opened fire.

An Israeli soldier was wounded in the leg. Other Israeli troops opened fire on the Palestinian, wounding him. Both the soldier and the police officer required hospital treatment.

Israel complained about the incident at a meeting of the joint Israeli- Palestinian security committee on Sunday.

Officials with the Palestinian police later apologized in the name of Palestine Liberation Organization leader Yasser Arafat and said the police officer would be severely punished once he recovered from his wounds.

The incident was not the first clash between Israeli troops and the Palestinian police in Gaza since Palestinian self-rule went into effect May.

In recent weeks, there have been heated encounters between the two sides, usually over procedures for monitoring traffic through their respective checkpoints.

In an unrelated incident, an Israeli reserve officer was wounded last Friday when a gunman shot at him as he was driving from his home near the West Bank town of Ramallah to Jerusalem.

The Damascus-based Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, which militantly opposes the Israeli-Palestinian peace initiative, claimed responsibility for the shooting.

The incident took place less than a mile from the site where another Israeli reservist, Sgt. Shmuel Meiri, was attacked in this car by a mob on Dec. 14 after he took a wrong turn and ended up in the middle of a Palestinian demonstration in Ramallah.

The Israel Defense Force chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Ehud Barak, announced on Sunday that no disciplinary measures would be taken against Meiri.

The soldier was criticized last week by some army and political leaders for not using his weapon to defend himself during the attack. Meiri, who instead asked for mercy from his attackers, later said he was certain he would have been killed had he fired on the mob.

NEXT STORY