JERUSALEM (Jul. 10)
The Cabinet today confirmed the ouster of Mayor Mustapha Abdul Natshe of Hebron and his town council in connection with the murder of a yeshiva student in Hebron last Thursday and decided to proceed with plans to enlarge the Jewish presence in that West Bank town.
A Cabinet statement declared, “The security authorities will protect the lives of all Jews all over Eretz Israel and will not allow anyone to take the law into their own hands.” But there was no official condemnation of either the murder of 19-year-old Aharon Gross or the arson and destruction of the Hebron market place by Jewish settlers that followed. Officials explained that to have condemned both acts together would equate them while to condemn one unlawful act and not the other would be unseemly.
Nevertheless, government officials were instructed to inform the press that the ministers did in fact condemn both the murder and the arson and rioting by Jewish settlers that followed it. Cabinet secretary Dan Meridor stressed to reporters, however, that “As long as Arabs believe that by murder they can drive us away from Hebron they have a motive. Jews are going to live in Hebron and in all parts of Eretz Israel.”
PLANS TO REBUILD JEWISH QUARTER
The Cabinet resolved to go ahead with plans approved in 1980 to rebuild the old Jewish quarter of Hebron, deserted during the Arab riots in 1929. Premier Menachem Begin insisted, however, that this had nothing to do with Thursday’s murder. Army Radio reported today that Housing Ministry plans call for the settlement of 500 Jewish families in Hebron. But only about a dozen families will be involved in the first stage. Housing Minister David Levy said the plans were proceeding with dispatch.
Most of the open stalls and several stores in the Hebron market were gutted by Jewish settlers from the adjacent Orthodox township of Kiryat Arba.
Defense Minister Moshe Arens, who visited Hebron shortly after the murder was cursed by some of the settlers and his car was surrounded for a time. Arens, a Herut hardliner, has been accused by the Gush Emunim militants of Kiryat Arba of not cracking down hard enough on West Bank Arabs.
Municipal workers were clearing up the debris today and there were reports that the owners of the damaged shops and stalls will be compensated for their losses.
Meanwhile the Old City of Jerusalem was quiet today in the aftermath of a riot by Arabs on the Temple Mount Friday. The stone-throwing melee occurred as worshippers left the Al Aksa mosque following services ushering in the Moslem feast of Id Al Fiter marking the end of the month of Ramadan. Police said that only a small number of the worshippers were involved in the riot.