JERUSALEM (AP) — The Israeli Supreme Court
yesterday ordered a one-week halt to construction at a section of
the West Bank security barrier where soldiers shot dead two
Palestinians during a violent protest last week.

Ryan Nowak
An Israeli security guard yesterday walks past part of the concrete barrier separating East Jerusalem from the West Bank village of Abu Dis yesterday. (AP Photo)

Under intense international pressure, including last
week’s highly publicized hearing about the legality of the
barrier at the International Court of Justice in The Hague,
Netherlands, Israeli officials had already pledged to change the
planned route of the barrier to ease hardships on Palestinians.

The Israeli court yesterday issued an order to temporarily stop
work on a section of the barrier being built near Jerusalem while
the military considers alternate routes.

Also yesterday, two Palestinian militants were killed in West
Bank clashes with Israeli forces. Soldiers entered the Balata
refugee camp next to the city of Nablus and traded fire with
militants, killing Mohammed Zuheir Oweis, 23, Palestinians
said.

Oweis was a member of the Al Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, a
violent group linked to Yasser Arafat’s Fatah movement.

A few hours later, during Oweis’ funeral, another clash
erupted and a second Palestinian, Iyad Abu Shalal, was killed.
Security officials said he was involved in a December ambush that
wounded seven Jewish worshippers returning from an unauthorized
visit to a holy site in Nablus.

At another funeral procession, this one in Gaza City, militants
threatened to hit back at Israel as they buried three Palestinians
killed in an Israeli missile strike Saturday night near the
sprawling Jebaliya refugee camp.

Two of the three were prominent in the Islamic Jihad, and their
coffins were covered with flags from the violent group. The third,
a supporter of the group, was a cousin of one of the militants.

“We promise Sharon that our retaliation is coming
soon,” said a masked militant, referring to Israeli Prime
Minister Ariel Sharon.

Meanwhile, police said yesterday they had arrested three
Palestinian boys who said they were on their way to carry out an
attack in the Israeli city of Afula.

The boys — ages 12, 13 and 15 — were among the
youngest arrested in three years of conflict. Relatives said they
left behind letters that indicated they did not expect to return
alive from their mission.

The father of one of the boys said he was furious with militant
groups for recruiting the children.

At the Israeli Supreme Court yesterday morning, Palestinian and
Israeli opponents of Israel’s West Bank barrier won a
temporary victory.

In its order stopping work on a section northeast of Jerusalem
— scene of the first fatalities in anti-barrier protests
— the court ordered the military to grant hearings to the
residents, Israel Radio reported.

On Thursday, protesters tried to stop bulldozers from flattening
land for the barrier on the West Bank side of the boundary with
Israel, opposite a Jewish suburb. Israeli soldiers opened fire,
killing two Palestinians and wounding more than a dozen.

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