JERUSALEM, FEB. 23 -- Continuing violence in the West Bank and Gaza Strip claimed the lives of two Palestinians, including a 13-year-old girl, today as Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin told a legislative committee that the situation in the occupied territories is getting worse.
Today's fatalities brought to at least 63 the number of Arabs killed since the violence began Dec. 9. No Israelis have died in the clashes.
Rawda Najeeb, 13, from Baqa Sharqiyya, in the northern West Bank, was shot during a demonstration and an Israeli civilian was arrested in the death, officials said.
The second fatality was Mahmoud Hasheyeh, 14, shot dead by troops during a violent demonstration in Yamoun, near the West Bank city of Jenin, in which two soldiers were injured by stones, authorities said.
Arab sources said another Palestinian -- a 30-year-old man -- died of wounds sustained in clashes Friday with security forces in Gaza.
Curfews were lifted after 18 days on the West Bank town of Qalqilya and the Tulkarm refugee camp, but disturbances were reported in the Gaza area, where a car in the motorcade of visiting Australian Foreign Minister Bill Hayden was hit by a stone in the Jabaliya refugee camp.
Rabin told the parliament's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that not only had calm not been restored in the occupied territories, but that the situation had deteriorated in the last few days.
He said that "it is the duty of the security forces to ensure that violence will not change our political approach as to how to end the Arab-Israeli conflict."
A right-wing opposition legislator, Geula Cohen, meanwhile, attacked Israeli Attorney General Yosef Harish for directing yesterday that the Army refrain from beating and abusing Palestinians after they have been taken into custody. She said Harish also bore responsibility for the violence because he had failed to prosecute Israelis who met with Palestine Liberation Organization officials. Such meetings are illegal under Israeli law.
Foreign Minister Shimon Peres visited Nablus on the West Bank today and heard complaints from Palestinians about the Army's behavior and demands for an independent state.
Attempts are still being made, meanwhile, to arrange a meeting between Palestinian leaders from the West Bank and Gaza and Secretary of State George P. Shultz, despite repeated statements by the PLO opposing any such meeting. Shultz is due to arrive in Israel Thursday for talks aimed at reviving the peace process.