Unrest Continues in the Territories

Unrest continued in the administered territories Wednesday for the seventh straight day as the response by the Israel Defense Force was beginning to be questioned at home.

A 16-year-old Arab student was wounded in the hand during disturbances in Gaza Wednesday. Four Arab youths, two of them minors, have been killed since violence erupted at Bir Zeit University near Ramallah in the West Bank on December 4. About a score of Palestinians have been wounded and a similar number of Israelis, military and civilian, have been injured by rocks.

But despite official statements endorsing the behavior of the Israel Defense Force, there is mounting concern and criticism here over the use of live ammunition by soldiers and border police to quell violent demonstrations. According to The Jerusalem Post, Vice Premier and Foreign Minister Shimon Peres and Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin will face tough questioning at a caucus of Labor Party Ministers Wednesday night.

Much of the concern is over Israel’s image abroad and that the killing of Palestinian youths, whether intentional or not, gives momentum to the disturbances rather than restoring calm which is the IDF’s stated purpose.

The newspaper Davar reported Wednesday that the fatal shooting of two 22-year-old Bir Zeit University students on December 4, the incident that triggered the week of violence, was the work of a professional IDF officer “known to have extremist views close to the extremist settlers” in the West Bank. Davar said IDF reservists serving in the area have complained about this officer through army channels.

Meanwhile, the IDF is continuing its investigation into the fatal shooting of a 12-year-old Palestinian boy at the Balata refugee camp near Nablus Monday. Rabin reported Tuesday that forensic examination of the bullets removed from his body showed they could not have been fired from any weapon used by the IDF.

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