Palestinian day of mourning erupts into day of rage

QARARA, Gaza Strip (AP) — In a blunt display of his power to send hundreds of thousands of Palestinians into the streets, Yasser Arafat declared a national day of mourning Thursday that turned into a day of rage.
At least five Palestinians were killed and nearly 200 injured in clashes with Israeli troops that erupted as Palestinians commemorated what they call “al nakba” — the catastrophe — of Israel’s founding and their own uprooting a half-century ago. It was the worst Israeli-Palestinian fighting in 20 months.
Pitched battles between Palestinian stone throwers and Israeli troops raged from the town of Jenin in the northern West Bank to the southernmost Gaza Strip town of Rafah. Twenty Israeli soldiers and two Israeli civilians were also hurt, according to the army.
In every major city of the West Bank and Gaza, marchers — children holding hands, old men in robes and headdresses and veiled women — turned out at Arafat’s behest for the anniversary, which Israel marked April 30 under the Hebrew calendar.
While most of the marchers — 1 million by official Palestinian estimates — were peaceful, thousands of young men broke away and headed toward Israeli army outposts. In clash after clash, they hurled stones at Israeli soldiers who responded with tear gas, rubber bullets and, sometimes, live rounds.
The casualty toll remained in confusion even after the fighting abated. Emad Tarawiya, head of the Palestinian Health Ministry, initially said six Palestinians had been killed and the Palestinian police commander in Gaza put the number at eight.