55 Arabs Arrested in Gaza Strip

The army disclosed today the arrests of 55 Arabs in the Gaza Strip who have been implicated in acts of violence, weapons thefts and sabotage plots. The arrests, carried out during the past two weeks, broke up four terrorist cells. Three were linked to El Fatah and one to George Habash’s Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, an army communique said.

The PFLP group and one Fatah cell consisted of 39 persons who confessed to sabotage in the Gaza Strip. Other acts attributed to them include throwing Molotov cocktails at a school, stealing weapons and circulating inflammatory propaganda leaflets. A number of the detainees had worked in a Tel Aviv factory and stole weapons from the security guard there. They failed later in an attempt to steal weapons from a soldier, the communique reported.

One terrorist cell consisting of seven persons was found in possession of weapons and explosives and was conducting training in the use of arms and the manufacture of homemade bombs. They are also charged with gathering information for the purpose of planning acts of sabotage. Nine members of another cell confessed to firing shots at a truck. They were in possession of weapons at the time of their arrest. The arrests were the first mass round-up of terrorists in the Gaza Strip in some time. The Strip, once a hotbed of terrorist activity has been relatively quiet during the past few years.

Meanwhile, a military court Judge here has extended the detention period of five Palestinian Arabs who landed on the Tel Aviv beach in a motorboat during Rosh Hashanah last month. Investigators are still checking out their story that they escaped from Egypt to avoid being recruited by the PLO to fight in Lebanon.

A Ramlah magistrate has issued a further 15-day detention order against Ludvina Jansen, a 23-year-old Dutch woman arrested at Ben Gurion Airport last month on suspicion of being a terrorist operative. Jansen reportedly confessed that she was on an intelligence gathering mission in connection with the planned hijacking of an Air France plane at Ben Gurion Airport. She told reporters in court that she had cooperated with the police on the understanding that she would be freed.

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