JERUSALEM (May. 16)
A round-the-clock vigil by anti-war demonstrators outside Premier Menachem Begin’s homecontinued today as the Knesset debated a government statement approving the agreement between Israel and Lebanon which is expected to be signed by both countries tomorrow.
The vigil has been going on 24 hours a day for the past two weeks. The demonstrators who are demanding the immediate withdrawal of all Israeli troops from Lebanon have set up a stand surrounded by signs such as “Do not forget the soldiers who have been killed in Lebanon.” Yesterday they displayed the number 484, the present official count of Israeli soldiers killed in Lebanon since the war began almost one year ago.
The stand bears “flame of hope” lights and a book where passers-by are asked to add their names to the protest. It is staffed by two people at a time in four hour shifts, day and night. They estimate that about 100 people pass by during each shift.
Others in cars or on motorcycles pause to read signs saying “If we are not assembled today we will cry tomorrow”; “Enough I Get out of Lebanon Now”; “Prevent certain war with Syria — don’t crush it”; and “Protect the Galilee.” The demonstrators say they will continue their vigil until “our soldiers are out of Lebanon.”
The area outside the Prime Ministers residence drew demonstrators of a different kind yesterday. About 100 members of Histadrut carried signs demanding an end to the doctors strike, now in its third month. A spokesman for the group said they intended to demonstrate for three days. But no one showed up this morning. The protestors apparently are waiting to see the results of a new proposal offered the striking doctors by the Treasury and Health Ministry last night.
Approximately 8,600 salaried doctors employed by the government and Histadrut’s sick-fund, Kupat Holim, are on strike demanding higher salaries and better working conditions. Negotiations broke down last Friday with each side accusing the other of bad faith. Nurses and administrative and technical staffs at public hospitals are threatening to join the strike Tuesday, right after the Shavuot holiday.
Meanwhile, Tel Aviv had its share of demonstrations yesterday as Egged bus drivers, who went on strike last week to demand higher salaries, staged rallies in public places. The strike involves about 2,000 employes of the national bus cooperative.
So far, bus service has not been seriously affected because administrative personnel and garage mechanics have taken the drivers’ places. But there is a growing problem of sabotage. An Egged spokesman said yesterday that 15 buses have been tampered with since the strike began.