‘disturbances’ in the West Bank Decline, but ‘attacks’ Increase

Military sources insist there is no connection between the escalation of violence on the West Bank and the phased withdrawal of the Israel Defense Force from south Lebanon, now underway.

They concede that the situation in the West Bank has changed in recent weeks. There has been a steady decline, they say, in what are described as “incidents” such as stone-throwing by youngsters, cutting telephone lines and other petty sabotage. At the same time, there has been an increase in the number of more serious attacks with firearms, Molotov cocktails and other gasoline bombs. In the last 10 days an Israeli civilian and a reserve soldier have been killed, the former by a Molotov cocktail in Kalkilya, the latter shot to death by a lone gunman at his guardpost in the Arab town of Ramallah. Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin has warned that if terrorist attacks continue, the system of harsh punishment, temporarily abandoned, will be resumed.

HARSH PUNISHMENT WILL BE RESUMED

Rabin was quoted in a Maariv interview Friday as saying, “In response to further attacks in Judaea and Samaria, I do not rule out any one of the possible punishments, including expulsions, administrative detention or the destruction of houses or sealing them off. Such punishments will not be taboo, and if necessary we shall make use of them.”

Military sources suggest that the new wave of more deadly violence in the territory is traceable to “directives” from Amman, Jordan. They do not accuse the Jordanian government but rather the Palestine Liberation Organization which was allowed to open an office in Amman following the recent rapprochement between King Hussein and PLO chief Yasir Arafat.

Some military sources attribute the recent killings to the activation of PLO terrorists gangs that infiltrated the territory but lay dormant — “sleepers” — until now. The sources quoted statistics which showed that of a total of 46 attacks in the West Bank in November and December, 1984, three were with firearms and 14 with gasoline bombs.

In January, 1985, there was a total of 33 attacks which included four shootings and 23 with gasoline bombs. Stone-throwing incidents were not listed. At the same time, there was a general decline in the number of “disturbances” — down to 182 in January from 228 in December and 342 in November.

DIFFERING APPRAISALS OF THE SITUATION

The decline of “disturbances” and the rise of “attacks” has led to differing appraisals of the situation by the IDF and Jewish settlers. The former stresses the reduced frequency and seriousness of the “disturbances.” The latter stress the more frequent serious “attacks.”

Rabin, in his Maariv interview, predicted an increase of unrest and disorder in the West Bank in the near future. He spoke of “demonstrations, tire-burning, stone-throwing and terrorist acts employing Molotov cocktails, firearms and explosives.”

He warned, however, that “We will not allow anyone to take the law into his own hands. The settlers have defense duties within their settlements, but not outside them.”

While the military sources say they have firm evidence to back their claim that the new PLO office in Amman is sending “directives” to the West Bank, they stress that Amman has not replaced Beirut as a center of terrorist activity. The Jordanian government and army are still actively trying to prevent terrorist attacks and infiltration across the Jordan River, they say.

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