TEL AVIV (Mar. 21)
The Druze on the Golan Heights began the sixth week of their general strike today in protest against Israel’s annexation of that territory last month. The strike, with shops, schools and business establishments shut and Druze employed in Israel refusing to go to their jobs, is estimated to be about 80 percent effective.
The four villages where the Golan Druze population is centered have been sealed off by the Israeli authorities and, inasmuch as the residents have refused to accept Israeli identity cards, they are not permitted to leave. The news media also has been barred, raising angry protests and putting into question the credibility of official reports from the area by the army.
Druze formers have complained that their cattle are dying because they are not allowed to take them to posture near the Syrian border. The army claims the cattle are being led to pasture by farmers with identity cards and have not suffered. The media is unable to determine which version is correct.
RED CROSS DENIES ISRAELI CLAIM
Israel was embarrossed meanwhile when the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Geneva flatly denied yesterday a claim by the army last week that a Red Cross representative had expressed satisfaction with the medical condition of the Golan Druze.
According to a military spokesman, the representative visited the region March 16 and ascertained that reports of a shortage of medicine in the sequestered towns were incorrect.
But the ICRC said in Geneva yesterday that the Israeli military authorities had denied its localrepresentative freedom of movement and freedom to choose the people he wanted to interview.
As a consequence, the ICRC was unable to obtain the necessary information on the humanitarian situation on the Golan and was in no position to pass judgment on conditions there the Geneva statement said. The ICRC said it was continuing its approaches to the Israeli authorities and hoped to resume its work on the Golan Heights as soon as possible.
Meonwhile, the Foreign Press Association, the Israel Editors Committee and the Israel Journalists Association have protested against the press bon to Premier Menachem Begin, the Defense Ministry and the army.