JERUSALEM (Dec. 2)
Defense Minister Moshe Dayan insisted in the Knesset yesterday that the policy of punishing terrorist collaborators in the occupied Arab territories was nothing new, had the complete approval of the Government and affected only the guilty while protecting the innocent. Gen. Dayan spoke in reply to two questions put to the Government by Communist MKs on the alleged “neighborhood punishment” policy, a policy that has come under fire in recent weeks reportedly within as well as outside of government circles. The policy is to destroy the homes and inflict other punishment on Arabs who collaborate with terrorists or who, knowing of terrorist activities in their neighborhood, fail to alert Israeli authorities. Gen. Dayan said he thought the debate was more over words than over deeds. He said the policy could be called “neighborhood punishment” or anything else but the essence of it was that innocent persons were spared and punishment was meted out only to those guilty of aiding, sheltering or otherwise collaborating with terrorists. He said the blowing up of houses in Halhul village on the west Bank, the curfews in Hebron and in the Taamra tribe area nearby and the demolition of houses in Gaza were all done with government approval.
He said the policy was not only approved by the government but was in full accord with the emergency regulations laid down by the British Mandatory authorities in 1945 and retained by Israel. He said its purpose was to protect peaceful Arabs and to enable Jews to move peacefully in the occupied territories for purposes trade, visits and settlement, just as West Bank Arabs are permitted to move freely and work in Israel.
Gen. Dayan cited as a further example the shut down of the Falastin high school, the largest in the Gaza Strip. He said that even if some of the teachers and students were not involved in subversive acts, the school had become a hotbed of terror and many of its teachers headed local terrorist gangs. The school’s deputy principal, Hashem Zeinab, was arrested only a few days ago in possession of arms. He was found to be the leader of terrorist cells responsible for a series of grenade incidents in the Gaza Strip.