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Violence Escalates in the West Bank

Two Arab youths were fatally shot in a clash with Israeli border policemen in Tulkarem yesterday and three youths were wounded, one seriously, in another clash with border policemen today, at the Dahayshe refugee camp south of Bethlehem. Shots were fired at an Israeli vehicle outside Kalkilya yesterday. As violence escalated in the West Bank, Israeli security forces responded with an “iron hand”. Curfews were clamped tonight on Tulkarem, Dahayshe and in the casbah of Nablus. Defense Minister Moshe Arens called an emergency meeting at his office tonight to discuss further security measures in the territory.

Earlier, Arens told representatives of Jewish settlers that the situation in the West Bank has become “unbearable” with respect to safety on the roads. The fatal shootings were the most serious incidents since unrest spread in the territory last week, apparently in reaction to the battle in northern Lebanon between Palestine Liberation Organization elements loyal to Yasir Arafat and PLO dissidents, backed by Syria and Libya.

The border police claimed that they acted in self-defense at both Tulkarem and Dahayshe after being attacked with rocks and other heavy objects. Local residents charged that the police provoked the youths by interfering in a demonstration against Syria and Libya for making war on Arafat. But Mayor Hilmi Hanun of Tulkarem said on Israel television today that because there were no Syrians or Libyans on whom to vent their anger, the youths turned on Israeli soldiers “who are the source of all their troubles.”

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