In a clash that lasted through the day and into the night, four Palestinians, ages 17 to 23, were killed by Israeli fire at the Karni crossing point along the eastern Gaza Strip, hospital doctors said. Thirty-four days of fighting have left 147 people dead, most of them Palestinians.
The Palestinians supplemented their stones and firebombs for the first time with machine-gun fire and anti-tank missiles, according to the army. At least 45 Palestinians were injured in three separate clashes in Gaza and two in the West Bank, doctors said.
Tuesday's fighting came a day after Israel rained missiles on several command centers of Arafat's Fatah movement in one the most intense attacks since the fighting began. The Israeli raids, launched in response to the killing of two Israelis, were the latest escalation in the cycle of retaliatory violence, and left Palestinians in a defiant mood.
"What happened here and elsewhere in the Palestinian territories will not shake one hair on the head of the Palestinian children," Arafat said as he examined the battered walls and broken concrete at a base for his Force 17 bodyguards at Khan Yunis in Gaza.
Israel says Arafat's comments have encouraged youths to take part in the daily confrontations. However, many youngsters say they do so with relish, needing no such prompting, while others participate out of peer pressure.
The Israelis have criticized Palestinian leaders, saying they cynically use the children--and the resulting casualties--in the ongoing public relations battle between the two sides.
Referring to the helicopter attacks, Prime Minister Ehud Barak warned, "the long reach of the Israeli army could be much more painful." Speaking to visiting world Jewish leaders, Barak said he talked to Arafat briefly a week ago to explain Israel's position, "but to my dismay, the emergency situation continues."
More than a month of fighting has put the peace process on hold, but there were plans for a new round of high-level contacts.
Arafat and Israeli elder statesman Shimon Peres, who shared the Nobel Peace Prize in 1994 along with the late Israeli leader Yitzhak Rabin, planned to meet late Tuesday or Wednesday, Israel radio said.
Barak's top adviser, Danny Yatom, said, "we must settle this ancient conflict, not with violence but with peace."
But harsh words on both sides were more the norm. Ahmed Qureia, a senior Palestinian negotiator, said the Israeli helicopter attacks "started a new stage of aggression against the Palestinian people."
"The Palestinian intefadeh [uprising] will continue as long as there is aggression," he said.
Besides the violence, another obstacle to a resumption of negotiations is the political instability in Israel. Barak heads a minority government, and his need for political allies became even more urgent Monday as parliament reconvened after a three-month recess.
Barak worked Tuesday to build an alliance with the ultra-Orthodox Shas party, while prospects faded for a partnership with the hawkish Likud faction led by Ariel Sharon.
Barak had been seeking to bring Sharon into his coalition, but contacts broke down Monday after the prime minister refused to grant Likud a veto right over future peace talks.
An angry Sharon said Barak could no longer be trusted. "Apparently, he is not fit to lead the country," said Sharon, whose Sept. 28 visit to a contested Jerusalem shrine was cited by the Palestinians as a trigger for Israeli-Palestinian fighting. Israel says the Palestinians used Sharon's visit to the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif as an excuse to launch violent attacks that had already been planned to pressure Israel into making negotiating concessions.
In Tuesday's violence, CNN correspondent Ben Wedeman, 41, was shot while covering the clashes in Gaza, near the Karni crossing point. According to CNN, Wedeman was in stable condition with moderate injuries after a bullet entered through his back and exited just above his right hipbone. His injuries were not life-threatening.
Israel's helicopter raids Monday included machine-gun fire in the West Bank town of Nablus that shattered windows and pockmarked a temple and offices of the biblical Samaritans, followers of an offshoot of Judaism. About 300 Samaritans live in Nablus.
Samaritan leaders said Israeli troops were aware of the shrine, which is next to the Fatah offices in the town's center. "This is a sacred place, and they should respect it," said temple caretaker Fathi Abu Hassan.