TEL AVIV (Mar. 13)
Violent demonstrations against President Carter’s peacemaking efforts erupted on the West Bank for the fourth consecutive day today. Border police were kept busy clearing roads and dispersing stone-throwing mobs, chiefly high school and college students. Ramallah, near Jerusalem and Bir Ziet, site of the Arab University were the focal points of disturbances today. Widespread violence occurred in many more towns and villages during the past 24 hours.
Stones shattered the windshield of a tourist bus bound from Ramallah to Jerusalem today but no one was hurt. All shops and businesses were closed. Schools remained open but most students roamed the streets setting up roadblocks, burning piles of tires and hurling barrages of stones at police and Israeli vehicles. The situation was the same at Bir Ziet. The residents of another Arab village barricaded the road to Ofra, a Gush Emunim settlement, preventing the settlers from leaving or returning. Border police fired shots in the air to disperse the mob and cleared the road.
Yesterday, three Bir Ziet students were wounded when Israeli security forces opened fire to break up a demonstration. A curfew was imposed and all male residents were rounded up in the church square for screening and identification. The Military Governor appointed a special committee to investigate the incident.
Other incidents occurred yesterday at Ramallah, Al Bira, Beth Sahour, Halhoul and Bethlehem. An Israeli car was damaged by stones in Kalandia Two tourists were hurt in Bethlehem when their car was stoned by high school students. Schools in Bethlehem and Halhoul were shut down by order of the Military Government because of pupil unrest.
Some Israelis claimed that the unrest was organized by extremist elements bent on foiling an Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty and timed, therefore, to coincide with President Carter’s visit to Jerusalem which ended today. These elements deliberately used high school students to spearhead the violence, the Israelis said, and took full advantage of the presence of the world media, especially television, to create a picture of grave disturbances in the Israel-occupied territory.
Some Israelis noted bitterly that in the absence of substantive news during Carter’s deliberations with Israeli leaders in Jerusalem, TV camera crews converged on the West Bank towns for “action” pictures.