Israeli troops shot 14 Palestinians dead on Saturday in the bloodiest day of a four-month uprising in the occupied territories in protests at the killing of a top PLO guerrilla commander, Arab and U.N. sources said.
They said eight protesters were killed in the occupied Gaza Strip and six in the West Bank in the highest death toll on any day since the uprising began in December.In the Gaza Strip, more than 100 Palestinians were reported wounded by army gunfire, while in the West Bank city of Nablus, about 15,000 Palestinians marched to mourn the death of Khalil al-Wazir, military deputy to Palestine Liberation Organization leader Yasser Arafat, but were dispersed with tear gas.
Israeli security sources said they expected further bloodshed on Sunday, the first day of the Moslem fast of Ramadan.
Israeli security sources confirmed eight of the deaths and said they were checking the others.
The 14 deaths would raise to 157 the number of Palestinians killed in the violence, the worst in nearly 21 years of Israeli occupation. Two Israelis have died in the uprising.
Israel declined comment on PLO accusations that it was responsible for killing al-Wazir in his home in a northern suburb of Tunis overnight.
"We have absolutely no comment," an army spokeswoman said.
Israel said al-Wazir, alias Abu Jihad, was behind some of the bloodiest guerrilla attacks against Israel, including the hijacking of a civilian bus last month in which three Israelis and three Palestinian gunmen were killed.
Moslem leaders declared three days of mourning over al-Wazir's death, beginning on Saturday. Black flags of mourning waved over Palestinian homes throughout the occupied areas on Saturday.
A military spokesman said the high number of casualties occurred during confrontations between troops and Palestinians who attacked them with fire bombs, rocks and in one case a grenade that didn't explode.
Hospital officials said more than 100 Palestinians were wounded by army gunfire in the Gaza Strip alone, several of them in critical condition. Arab sources said most of the Gaza Strip was under curfew or declared a closed military area.
One eyewitness in the Gaza Strip told Reuters: "There are burning tires and smoke everywhere. It looks as if the whole strip is on fire."
A senior U.N. official said it was by far the bloodiest day in the strip since the start of the uprising.
"There is turmoil everywhere. There are a lot of wounded from live ammunition as well as tear gas. There are curfews on all the main towns and camps.
"I'm not surprised. Abu Jihad has Gaza connections," the official said.
Hundreds of black flags were raised in the West Bank and Gaza Strip to mourn al-Wazir's death.
Protesters shouted slogans such as "We will take revenge" and "By our spirit and our blood we will sacrifice for you, Abu Jihad."
Israel Radio said al-Wazir was responsible for the March 1978 "coastal road massacre" in which more than 30 Israeli civilians were killed after Palestinian guerrillas landed from Lebanon and hijacked a bus on the main highway between Haifa and Tel Aviv.
It also said he masterminded a guerrilla raid on a Tel Aviv hotel in March 1975 in which 12 Israeli civilians, three soldiers and six foreign tourists were killed.