SAKHNIN, Israel -- Violence exploded again across the West Bank and Gaza Strip on Friday, even as Jews and Arabs inside Israel joined in a rare gesture of solidarity to protest state seizure of Arab lands.
While Israeli Arabs observed Land Day with peaceful marches, tree plantings and rallies, a Palestinian "day of rage" triggered clashes with soldiers in at least half a dozen West Bank and Gazan towns.
Soldiers shot to death six Palestinians and wounded more than 100 others, Palestinians said, as protesters burned Israeli flags and saluted suicide bombers who target Jews. There were gun battles in several cities, including divided Hebron, where Jewish settlers have rampaged repeatedly against Palestinians since a 10-month-old Jewish girl was shot to death earlier this week.
Friday's clashes capped a turbulent week that left the still-young government of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, elected in February on a promise that it would restore security, warning Israelis that they face a long, costly struggle, and Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat vowing that his people will fight on.
As troops and protesters engaged in some of the worst fighting in weeks in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, the orderly demonstrations by Arabs inside Israel offered both sides a rare glimmer of hope that coexistence is at least still imaginable.
Arab and Jewish Israelis who have struggled to keep alive the notion that they can live together feared that violence inside Israel on Land Day could destroy their efforts.
For the first time since Arabs began observing Land Day in 1976 to protest government confiscation of Arab property in the Galilee, Israel's largest peace movement joined them. Several dozen Peace Now activists participated in the main demonstration here in the Galilee town of Sakhnin. Several thousand Arabs, some bused in from other towns, marched down the main street to the high school playground, where they held a brief rally.
Dozens of Jews from nearby towns also participated in the Sakhnin march, some for the first time. Some waved the red flag of the Communist Democratic Front for Equality and Peace, a joint Arab-Jewish political party. Others waved the green flag of the fundamentalist Islamic Movement, the Palestinian flag or black flags of mourning.
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