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Tension Eased in Hebron As Jewish and Moslem Groups Cancel Demonstrations

Tension cased somewhat in Hebron today as Jewish and Moslem groups cancelled rival demonstrations in compliance with a military government ban on public rallies and demonstrations in that West Bank town. Israeli troops moved into Hebron in large numbers earlier when it appeared that the ban might be defied and a clash between Jews and Arabs precipitated.

The ban was imposed yesterday when the so-called Greater Israel Movement announced it would hold a demonstration at the Patriarchs’ Tomb in Hebron, site of last week’s grenade explosion that injured 47 Jewish visitors and worshippers. At the same time, Arab elements in town called for demonstrations against Jewish prayers at the tomb which is enclosed by the Ibrahimi Mosque compound, an Islamic shrine. Unidentified Arabs circulated leaflets today protesting the demolition of several buildings in Hebron owned or used by alleged terrorists who were arrested in connection with the grenade incident.

The Greater Israel Movement, which advocates Israel’s permanent retention of all Arab territories occupied in the June, 1967 war, indicated that it would call off its rally. Later it appeared that the group – or members of it – planned to defy the ban to demonstrate for what they claim are Jewish rights at the tomb. The military government pointed out that in view of the continuing, unhindered stream of visitors to the site, there was no purpose to be served by demonstrations. The Israelis meanwhile cleared an area near the tomb site in order to ensure the safety of worshippers. A number of Arab residents were evicted from their homes and installed in other quarters.

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