JERUSALEM (Sep. 3)
A curfew was clamped on the casbah and other central areas of Hebron after two Israeli reserve soldiers were wounded in a knife attack while standing guard outside a vacant building today.
Each soldier was stabbed once in the ribs. One is reported in serious condition. Chief of Staff Gen. Moshe Levy said the army would conduct a thorough investigation to determine how the assailant was able to approach close enough to two armed soldiers to inflict knife wounds.
Meanwhile, military units conducted an intensive search of the area. The casbah is a maze of narrow streets and winding alleys in the oldest part of town where local merchants do business from stalls and live with their families on the upper floors.
The soldiers were guarding a building where two weeks ago several right-wing Knesset members set up a temporary “settlement” in what they claimed was a Jewish-owned apartment. They were evicted by order of Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin.
OUTCRY FROM RIGHTWING POLITICIANS
The incident triggered an outcry from rightwing politicians. The opposition Tehiya Party began collecting the required 30 signatures to convene a special session of the Knesset for the purpose of legislating tougher measures against terrorists.
Tehiya MKs Geula Cohen and Eliezer Waldman who visited the scene shortly after the attack today denounced the government for pursuing a policy of preventing Jews from “living wherever they wished in Eretz Yisrael.” According to Cohen, that policy only encouraged the Palestine Liberation Organization.
A Herut spokesman also complained about the “wrong-headed policy toward Jewish settlement in Hebron” which he attributed to the Labor Party, although Herut, part of Likud, is, along with Labor, a constituent of the unity government which makes policy.
Herut leaders privately are concerned over the steady erosion of votes to the extreme rightwing parties — Tehiya and Kach — which accelerates whenever terrorist attacks occur, usually at the expense of Likud.
Gen. Levy noted that the presence of PLO head-quarter units in Jordan, in close proximity to the West Bank, encourages and improves terrorist planning and operations against Israel.
NEW ROUND OF ADMINISTRATIVE ARRESTS
Only hours before the assault on the soldiers in Hebron, Israeli military authorities carried out a new round of administrative arrests in the West Bank. Twenty persons were taken into custody in the Samaria region of the territory on suspicion of seditious activity.
This brought to 55 the number of West Bank and Gaza Strip Arabs held in administrative detention in recent weeks. The detention orders are valid for six months and can be extended for another six months without the suspects being charged or brought to trial.
The administrative detentions and a number of expulsion orders against West Bank Arabs currently under examination by appeals courts are aspects of the tougher policy against terror and sedition recently instituted by the Israeli military authorities in the territories.