The fifth anniversary of the signing of the landmark Oslo peace accords, meant to usher in a new era in the Middle East, found Israelis and Palestinians united in only one respect Sunday: an outpouring of sadness and anger.
The West Bank and Gaza were sealed off, locking tens of thousands of restive Palestinian workers out of Israel. Israeli soldiers fired rubber bullets and tear gas at stone-throwing youngsters in the West Bank for a third straight day. Islamic militants have made ominous threats of revenge attacks.The Oslo accords, sealed on Sept. 13, 1993, with a handshake by Yasser Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin on the White House lawn, were aimed at setting Palestinians on the road to eventual autonomy and helping Israel extricate itself from an endless cycle of hatred and violence in the Palestinian territories it ruled.
Since that step toward peace, however incomplete and tentative, more Israelis have been killed by Palestinian militants than in the 15 years before the Oslo accords, according to figures released by the Government Press Office.
Between 1993 and 1998, 279 Israelis were killed, compared with 254 between 1978 and 1993, the Government Press Office has said.
According to the Israeli human rights group Betselem, 315 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces or civilians since the signing.
The peace process, commentator Zvi Bar-El wrote in Sunday's editions of the Haaretz newspaper, "looks more and more like a cease-fire between wars."