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Axe Attack on West Bank Jewish Settler Sparks Anger Against Israeli Government Officials

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Jewish settlers on the West Bank are furious over the axe attack on one of them in the Nablus marketplace this morning and the escalation of stone-throwing incidents against Jewish vehicles throughout the territory.

They are venting their anger on the military for alleged failure to provide adequate protection and on government leaders who, they claim, reneged on promises to take tougher measures to prevent violence against Jews.

The victim of today’s attack is Yossi Stern, a resident of Bracha, a Jewish settlement built close to Nablus. He sustained moderate wounds on his head, back and hand when he was assaulted with an axe while loading vegetables on a truck in the Nablus marketplace at 7 a.m. local time today. Stern, who was armed, as most settlers are, fired several shots into the air as he fell to the ground. A companion, Kalman Bach from the nearby settlement of Eilon Moreh, seized an Arab who had been standing close to Stern. Security forces later detained another suspect. A curfew was clamped on the market and on the nearby Askar refugee camp. Dozens of local Arabs were hauled in for questioning as Stern received treatment at a hospital.

DEMANDS AN END TO TERRORIST ACTIONS

Bach himself had been attacked on the same spot 10 months ago. His assailant has not been caught. He echoed the sentiments of Jewish settlers when he warned that the situation will continue until the army and military government take strong measures. “This sabotage and hatred cannot be dealt with in positive terms. It must be put to an end once and for all. Every terrorist caught should be deported out of the country,” Bach said.

Benny Katzover, chairman of the settlers council for the Samaria region, demanded that the Nablus market be shut down until the perpetrators are found. He accused Premier Yitzhak Shamir and Defense Minister Moshe Arens of not keeping their recent promises to take tougher measures against West Bank Arabs.

“If the present situation does not change we shall not keep quiet,” he said, a hint that the settlers would take the law into their own hands.

The presence of Israeli security forces has increased noticeably. Nevertheless, two Israeli bus drivers were slightly injured last night when rocks were hurled through the windshields of their vehicles. One incident occurred near Nablus and the other near Ramallah.

Army reinforcements have been deployed in the territory in recent days to deal with an anticipated upsurge of violence tomorrow, November 29, the 36th anniversary of the United Nations decision to partition Palestine into Jewish and Arab states. Soldiers are manning look-out posts near refugee camps. Israeli buses will travel with armed police escorts and, in some areas, will be convoyed by army vehicles.

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