13/02/2004 10:03 By Haaretz Service and Reuters A Palestinian farmer was killed before dawn Friday during an Israel Defense Forces search for militants near the West Bank city of Jenin, Palestinian witnesses said. The shooting coincided with the second day of a high alert for suicide attacks against Israelis following an army assault on militants in the Gaza Strip on Wednesday that killed 15 Palestinians and triggered vows of revenge. Police bolstered their presence in crowded places Friday, including Jerusalem’s Old City, where they tightened restrictions for Muslim prayers at the Al-Aqsa and Dome of the Rock mosque compound. Police said they received information anti-Israeli protests were planned at the site and decided to ban male worshippers under the age of 45 and those without Israeli identity cards as a precaution. Meanwhile, Palestinian witnesses said the farmer, Ahmad Abdul Kadir Nazal, was shot dead as he drove to his cornfield to prepare crops for an early-morning shipment.
An army spokesman said the soldiers killed the driver of a suspicious vehicle outside the village of Kabatiya after he ignored shouts and warning shots to stop. The spokesman said the soldiers had come under fire in the village, but no weapon was found later in the vehicle. Palestinian witnesses said the farmer was hit by random shots from the troops after gunmen had fired at them. BPI